What to Know
- Initial proposal calls for several Hayward Unified School District sites to either close, relocate and/or be repurposed.
- Closures would help address a $14 million budget deficit and sharp enrollment decline. HUSD projects to have an all-time low of 16,548 students in the next several years.
- Virtual town halls scheduled this month to discuss proposal and get community feedback. The earliest the Board of Education can take action would be at a special meeting on Nov. 17.
Hayward Unified School District may shutter several school sites under a proposal aimed at tackling a drastic decline in enrollment and a projected $14 million budget shortfall.
The district on Monday, Oct. 18, will kick off a series of virtual town hall meetings to discuss its "Operational Sustainability" plan and hear community feedback.
- Read more about the district's Operational Sustainability plan at husd.us/os.
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The proposal is the result of a nearly two-year process where the district worked with the community and examined what it can do to move forward and find long-term solutions to a steady decline in enrollment, budget shortfall, and outdated facilities in need of over $900 million in repairs and upgrades.
HUSD's Director of Public Relations Dionicia Ramos said the district is now at a point where it has a recommendation and is looking for community feedback.
"We want to hear the story the data is not telling us," Ramos said. "It's important to hear input of the community -- hear from staff, students and parents."
Sharp Enrollment Decline Fueling Proposed Cuts
Changing demographics and the Bay Area's high cost of living are fueling the decline in enrollment, according to the district.
Ramos said the district was already seeing a steady enrollment decline prior to the pandemic, but added HUSD has seen a sharper drop in the past two years.
District facilities have the capacity to serve over 28,000 students, but school officials project an all-time low of 16,548 students over the next few years -- a number the district has not seen since 1981.
"We're getting less resources to maintain our facilities," Ramos said.
Hayward Unified has made nearly $13 million in cuts over the past five years and said $14 million in reductions are needed to balance its budget for the 2022-2023 school year.
"Nobody wants to close schools," Ramos said. "That is not anything anybody wants to be doing."
Ramos adds short-term solutions have been applied to long-term issues at the district.
"It's really important we address these issues," she said. "And that means making really difficult decisions."
Teachers Rallying Against Possible School Closures
Teachers at possibly impacted schools are planning demonstrations to protest the district's proposal.
At Ochoa Middle School, educators there have launched a #SaveOchoaMiddle campaign to get the word out about the planned closures. Teachers recently dressed in all black after seeing Ochoa listed as one of the campuses the district would close if the proposal is approved.
"Black symbolizes death, and, to us, the district’s proposed closure of our beloved middle school is a death in many ways," teacher Jose Tañada wrote in an Instagram post.
Meanwhile, the Hayward Education Association in a statement to NBC Bay Area said, "We need to create a pause button in order to meaningfully respond to the district's perceived budget woes so that they are not on the backs of our students and the people that provide direct services to the students."
The teachers union also said it does not trust the town hall process.
"The community must be given a chance, a voice to make sure our next step is strategic ... the town halls do not provide the chance nor a voice," HEA said in a statement. "We have seen town halls before -- they are presentations, Q and A and we will get back to you."
List of Impacted School Sites
The following list of schools facing possible closure or relocation is part of the district's initial proposal. If approved, the plan would be implemented over a three-year period.
Year 1: Implementation for 2022-23 school year
- Bowman Elementary
- Eldridge Elementary School
- Glassbrook Elementary School
- Strobridge Elementary School
- Faith Ringgold School of the Arts and Science
- Helen Turner Children's Center
- Student Information and Assessment Center
- Parent Resources HUB
- Anthony Ochoa Middle School
Year 2: Implementation for 2023-24 school year
- East Avenue Elementary School
- Brenkwitz Continuation High School
- Hayward Adult School
Year 3: Implementation for 2024-25 school year
- Bret Harte Middle School
- Cesar Chavez Middle School
Virtual Town Halls Schedule
- 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. Monday, Oct. 18, for the Hayward High School region (Zoom link)
- 5 to 7 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 19, for the Tennyson High School region (Zoom link)
- 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 20, for the Mount Eden High School region (Zoom link)
- 5 to 7 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 26, for year-round elementary schools (Zoom link)
When Will the Board of Education Take Action?
Recommendations will be presented to the Hayward Unified School District Board of Education at a special meeting scheduled from 6:30 to 10 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 17.
Trustees are expected to vote and take action on the proposal at that meeting.