East Bay Arts High School scheduled for closure

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East Bay Arts High School scheduled for closure

PHOTO BY TAM DUONG JR/THE PIONEER

PHOTO BY TAM DUONG JR/THE PIONEER

PHOTO BY TAM DUONG JR/THE PIONEER

PHOTO BY TAM DUONG JR/THE PIONEER

Ynez Adsuara,
Contributor

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Outside the San Lorenzo Unified School District office, students handed out refreshments at tables that said “East Bay Arts,” while several others walked around with #SAVEEBA and #EBA written on their faces to show support for their school.

Inside, board members, teachers, parents and students had come together to listen to proposals to save the small San Lorenzo arts high school from being closed; the school is scheduled to close at the end of the school year because of declining enrollment. A few students seated at tables outside the meeting said to close their school would be unfair. “They just dropped it on us,” said Yesenia Rosales, a tenth-grader at EBA. Earlier in the year, Superintendent Fred Brill sent out a letter to East Bay Arts families regarding the future of their school.

He states that the school has been struggling with three main things: declining enrollment, teacher turnover and fiscal viability. In order for the high school to be fiscally viable, they are required to have at least 400 students enrolled. However, for two years, only 360 students were enrolled at the school, and this year it dropped to approximately 180 students,according to Brill. At the Nov.3 meeting, Brill told attendees that school board members will vote to decide on the school’s future on Dec. 15.

[mks_pullquote align=”right” width=”300″ size=”24″ bg_color=”#00dbcc” txt_color=”#ffffff”]“[…]Move our site and create our site with the Adult School. That would make us more centrally located for all San Lorenzo Unified School District families.”[/mks_pullquote]

Teacher turnover is no different at East Bay Arts as it is at other schools according to Dr. Ammar Saheli, director of student support services.“My recommendation is to keep East Bay Arts open,” Brill said. “I want to be very clear the elected officials are the decision makers here.” He called the students’ advocacy and professionalism at the meeting and a previous October meeting, “inspirational.”

Brill opened the floor to teachers, students and board members to give presentations on what they think should happen with the school. Five teams, made up of at least two people each, presented options for the school. A junior and senior from East Bay Arts argued to keep East Bay Arts exactly as it is. They said the small size of the high school makes for a strong learning environment. Douglas Richman,the junior, said that despite the school’s decreased enrollment, the school does an excellent job at preparing them for college. “EBA has had a 72 percent college enrollment rate,” Richman said.

PHOTO BY TAM DUONG JR/THE PIONEER

PHOTO BY TAM DUONG JR/THE PIONEER

Invited up next was East Bay Arts teacher Andrew Champion who is in charge of the Secure Growth proposal that is focused on getting 400 students by 2017. He
noted that the school has seen an increase in inter-district transfers, proposed a more consistent recruitment process and suggested the school relocate its campus elsewhere. “[…]Move our site and create our site with the Adult School. That would make us more centrally located for all San Lorenzo Unified School District families,” Champion said. “We’d be adjacent to Bohannon Middle School and that would be a natural draw for new students.” The school district has asked the school to recruit 100 new students by December 3rd.

East Bay Arts is a small college preparatory school that offers courses in the arts while following the California high school A-G course requirements. Their 9th grade program includes classes for science, math, english, history, electives and after school dance and theatre. Tenth, eleventh and twelfth grade follows the same requirements at higher levels. Elective courses offered other than foreign language and music, are art, drama and digital arts. 46.7 percent of the student population at East Bay Arts High identify as Hispanic, making up the majority of the student body. The students are able to learn all the basics while also applying the curriculum to become a visual or performing artist.

The board will review the five presentations that were given and make their final decision next month.

PHOTO BY TAM DUONG JR/THE PIONEER

PHOTO BY TAM DUONG JR/THE PIONEER