ESD Board Approves Plan to Repurpose O.B. Whaley Elementary as a VAPA Magnet School
For Immediate Release: September 15, 2022
Contact: Johanna Villareal
Chief of Staff
Prioritizing Equity, Evergreen School District Board of Trustees
Decides to Keep O.B. Whaley Elementary School Open
School will be repurposed as a Visual and Performing Arts Magnet School
(San Jose, CA) On Wednesday, September 14, 2022, during its regularly scheduled meeting, the Evergreen School District Board of Trustees unanimously approved the recommendation of Dr. Antoine Hawkins, Superintendent of Schools to keep O.B. Whaley Elementary School open and to repurpose the school as a Visual and Performing Arts (VAPA) Magnet School.
In 2020 as part of a district fiscal stabilization plan to close a $12 million budget shortfall, due in large part to declining enrollment. O.B. Whaley Elementary School was previously recommended for consolidation by a community advisory committee, The Board of Trustees approved the consolidation of two schools at the end of the 2019-20 school year, and the consolidation of a third school, at the end of the 2020-21 school year.
This decision was then delayed due to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. When the consolidation of O.B. Whaley was brought forward to the Board of Trustees for consideration in June 2022, the Board decided to defer the decision until after the newly appointed Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Antoine Hawkins had the opportunity to review and analyze the district’s fiscal stabilization plan.
In considering the annual financial savings of approximately $500,000, and the resulting impacts of closing the school on the O.B. Whaley students and community. Dr. Hawkins determined that the school could remain open to current students, and school could be repurposed into a Visual and Performing Arts Program (VAPA) Magnet School.
Dr. Hawkins's keen insight into O.B. Whaley’s unique attendance area in the Evergreen community was his catalyst to move towards an innovative alternative solution. Closing O.B. Whaley would have required families to travel a greater distance to another school, which would have not only created a hardship on the families but would have removed a valued resource in the community. “Closing O.B. Whaley Elementary School would have created a significant impact on the community,” said Dr. Hawkins. “Although I appreciate and highly value the work of the school closure committed that occurred prior to my arrival as Superintendent. I could not find it in my heart to justify closing another Title 1 school in our community,” he continued. “The VAPA program will not only allow us to keep O.B. Whaley open, but it will also provide a unique program offering that will benefit all Evergreen School District students and allow us to hopefully begin to grow in attendance at the site,” he concluded.
Evergreen School District Board President Chris Corpus added, “The O.B. Whaley community is in a unique location as a community school that serves students and their families. By using an approach that attracts additional students, Evergreen can not only keep this school open but also achieve its fiscal stabilization goals.”
Evergreen School District staff will begin the steps to design the VAPA program and will share the timeline and the process with the district community at a future date.
For more information, please contact Johanna Villareal, Chief of Staff at (408) 270-6800 or email, email@example.com.
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