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New Creekside Middle School - Why Rush? by Amy Sagraves

San Juan School District parents and taxpayers: your input is urgently needed!

The School District wants to build a new middle school on the site of the old Creekside Elementary School. Creekside School was closed and declared surplus by the School District long ago. Since then the school buildings have been rented out to private schools and the facility was recently made an Adult School, primarily serving new immigrants (with a community garden and portable classrooms for ESL classes). The new campus will enable the School District to separate grade 6-8 students from the high school students at Encina, where they have been unsuccessfully blended for too long. The new campus is intended to serve up to 680 students who live between Ethan and Eastern and Marconi and Cottage/Maryal.

The Creekside Park green area adjacent to the Creekside Nature Area, is scheduled to be eliminated by this project. It is the only open space in the area - one the neighborhood has depended on for years, particularly since the elementary school was closed. The Nature Area, owned and operated by the Fulton-El Camino Recreation and Park District, is a 2-acre site with a Blue Oak forest, a rarity within our densely-developed metro area and home to a variety of species of concern.

On January 11th the San Juan Unified School Board voted to relocate the middle school students from Encina to the small parcel that used to be Creekside Elementary School. The only factor the Board considered was the site's proximity to projected population growth. The Board did not consider other larger empty school "surplus properties" with safer street access that aren't adjacent to the sensitive nature area. Nor did they consider repurposing other San Juan sites. The San Juan employees I have spoken to acknowledge the protected and threatened species that would impacted and yet maintain no environmental study or traffic plan was needed to commit the Creekside site. We are asking the School Board for a small pause to consider environmental, and neighborhood impacts as well to discuss alternative sites. The main reasons the District's plan is concerning, are:

May contain: grass, plant, tree, tree trunk, bridge, and building
Without asking the community, the San Juan Unified School District chose to replace the former Creekside Elementary School with a parking lot and build a large new middle school in the open space north of the old school buildings.
  1. Building in the Open Space. They intend to convert the Creekside grassy area, currently used as a park and bordered by Chicken Ranch Slough, to permanent buildings for as many as 680 students. The old elementary school will be torn down to create the parking lot and gymnasium. There will be scarce space left for fields or grass. The public will be deprived of access to the site and the Nature Area.
  2. Traffic. The School District knows and admits the two small, dead-end streets of Kent Drive and Belport Lane are not sufficient for the drop-off/pick up traffic, but they say they will "solve that later". With major streets in the area lacking crosswalks, pedestrian refuges and traffic lights and without school buses and sidewalks, it is obvious that parents will drive their kids to school. That means significant asphalt on site and traffic/parking nightmares for surrounding streets.
  3. Money. The project involves an expensive permanent building for what the district says is an expected, temporary "bulge" of middle school students that can be absorbed by the existing high school space once the students leave middle school. There are legitimate ways to satisfy middle school education parameters for the short-lived increase of middle school students without locking in permanent expenses for taxpayers. Yet no less-costly alternatives were proposed and evaluated.

If you live on Kent or Belport, if you use this park, if you are concerned about the unchecked spending of millions of tax dollars, please get involved. Our neighborhoods need to come together across the community if we are to have a voice. Please learn more about the process and get involved. We need a pause to allow for a thoughtful approach that considers the community impact, the safety of our residents, the financial impacts, and the environmental damage.

{Editor's Note: If you send email about this to, we'll forward it to Ms. Sagraves. We will also advise her of any comments on our blog, Facebook page and Twitter page.}

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