Many Walnut Creek parents have one question for the City Council candidates: Will the city consider school district realignment before more years pass by?

I'm sorry to say that State API rankings for Northgate High and Foothill Middle have plummeted (http://www.cde.ca.gov/getschoolreport). For the first time, both schools have dropped from the top tier 10th decile, down to the 9th decile. Over 12 years, Northgate's ranking compared to "similar schools" (e.g. Acalanes and San Ramon districts) has dropped from the near-perfect 9th decile, down to the 2nd decile that is termed "well below average."

This decline is caused by our dysfunctional governance system. Our families are stuck in limbo between the Mt. Diablo school board that does not meet to coordinate with Walnut Creek and the numerous other cities in Mt. Diablo district. Recently the Mt. Diablo school board refused a "Mayoral Council" idea presented from several mayors "to build good community relationships." There are important issues to discuss, such as a parcel tax, school closures, school safety and crossing guards. We were grateful last year when Walnut Creek coordinated with City of Concord on the crossing guard program, but this year Concord unilaterally voted to phase out that funding.


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Walnut Creek's general plan requires cooperation with all five school districts. However, the city council meets only with the WCSD board. For years I have asked the council to share that attention, to meet with Mt. Diablo school board and ideally to include all five school districts, but this has not happened.

I got involved in 2007 when Northgate High students had staged a two-day protest and we parents were told that Mt. Diablo district needs a parcel tax. Now five years later, the district remains without a parcel tax, and the lack of local revenue adversely affects our students.

In 2009, Walnut Creek precincts voted for a parcel tax that was defeated by other Mt. Diablo cities. It's the flip side of what happened this year in the West County district, where after the cities of Hercules and Pinole defeated the parcel tax measure, the school board president called to separate those cities from the district.

We believe the Mt. Diablo school district is too big and sprawling, and should be divided. Our 2008 petition sought to unite the city -- all of Walnut Creek city limits (except Lafayette and San Ramon districts), including Carriage Square and Geary Road. If granted, that would have added more than $4 million annually to our city schools by adding us to the existing parcel taxes (with a senior exemption). Now we call for city hall leadership to separate Walnut Creek from the Mt. Diablo district, so finally we could pass a parcel tax or sales tax for our schools that would equalize both sides of the city.

For the sake of all our children in school each day, school district realignment should be a top priority and should be added to the city's general plan. This election year, please ask the city council candidates to support realignment.

Ruth Carver, a Mt. Diablo parent, lives in Walnut Creek and is founder of Walnut Creek Schools Together Now