In October 1960, the area now covered by the CVUSD contained about 9,900 students, and was served by 13 elementary schools, two junior high schools, and one high school. The large enrollment even prompted the construction of a second high school, Canyon High, which opened in 1964. As the population aged, enrollment plummeted, bottoming out in the mid-1980s at around 4,400 students.
Between 1976 and 1984, CVUSD sold off five school sites: Parsons, Sydney, Upper Redwood, and Norbridge Elementary Schools, and A.B. Morris Junior High. Three other schools, Stanton, Clifton and Independent elementary schools, were closed but were (thankfully) retained and later reopened for different uses as enrollment grew.
In 2015, CVUSD again has around 9,300 students and is struggling to fit those students into a much smaller set of aging facilities, many of which are need of repair after years of deferred maintenance. According to CVUSD’s April 2014 Facilities Master Plan, CVUSD’s facilities are in need of $63,150,509 of improvements, “which is comprised of modernizations, technology needs and additional classroom spaces.” Unfortunately, there is very little available land in Castro Valley to build additional schools. That is partially due to Parsons, Sydney and A.B. Morris being demolished and redeveloped into housing. A prime example is A.B. Morris.
What happened to A.B. Morris?
A.B.Morris Junior High was the largest of CVUSD’s former properties, located on the west side of town, just off of Parsons Avenue. Declining enrollment resulted in its closure in 1976. It sat vacant and used only for storage until 1979, when it was put up for sale. It continued to fall into disrepair and was finally sold in October 1983. The site was sold to the lone bidder for $2,650,000 and was quickly redeveloped into 100 single family homes.
At the April 3, 1979 CVUSD Board Meeting when the site was first put up for sale, Board Member Sam Mediati had some insightful words on the plan. He said that the sale was a “sad commentary” on the district’s inability to maintain the school and criticized the district for lack of foresight saying that the school may be needed in the future. As reported in the Daily Review Newspaper at the time, Mediati said “In 10 to 15 years, the school could be invaluable to the school district and the community.”
In the end Mediati was outvoted 4-1 by the rest of the Board. In closing, Board Member Larry Todd commented “I can’t see where there’s going to be a use for it (the school) down the road in 10 years, 15 years, 50 years.”
As it turns out 36 years later, we can see a use for it after all.
In a future post we will tell you the whole story of the drama and details of the great Castro Valley School District reorganization of the late 1970’s – early 1980’s.