Committee to Explore Merging High Schools
The Alameda Unified School District (AUSD) Board of Education approved 15 members for the Committee to Consider High School Consolidation at the June 26 School Board meeting.
The committee will examine the “viability, desirability and effects” that would come from combining Alameda and Encinal high schools into one comprehensive high school, according to an AUSD press release.
The board selected Mia Bonta, Richard Bunker, Kelly Hartlaub Gregor, Dorothy Jones, Chuck Kapelke, Cameron Furuichi-Fong, Marva Lyons, Cheryl Lua, Liza Gabato Morse, Sofía Orduña, Ron Parodi, Melanie Shannon, Kathy Lamb-Tansey, Bill Withrow and Cindy Zecher to be on the committee. The appointees include students, staff and community members from the West End, East End and Bay Farm Island. The board considered more than 50 applicants for the committee.
The committee will likely add four more members before meetings take place this fall. The committee will add four more current students, bringing the total from two to six, at the urging of high school students and several of the nominated adult applicants to get a better representation of the student perspective. Applications for the four added members will be sent to students in August. The Board will also encourage student members to create a student subcommittee to seek student opinions.
The committee will meet seven to eight times this fall to review the potential effects of a merger. Topics they will examine include demographic projections; traffic, transportation, and parking concerns The committe will also discuss how a merger would affect course offerings, staffing, special education, student mental health and opportunities in athletics, the arts and school leadership. The committee will lay out several scenarios for a potential new configuration, but will not make a specific recommendation.
All meetings will be held at Island High School and open to the public.
Merging Alameda and Encinal high schools has been discussed for several decades. This spring, community and school faculty members asked for a new review of the concept. The members felt a merged school would allow AUSD to provide a more comprehensive high school education to all AUSD students. Also, board members felt the money saved by combining the schools could go towards improving AUSD employee salaries, which despite recent raises have long been lower than the county average.