“We just think it’s time,” said Brentwood Union School District (BUSD) Superintendent Merrill Grant. “The school sat empty as the economy continued to stagnate, but recently we’ve begun to see new growth – we grew over 100 students in our district this year – and we’re really excited that now every part of Brentwood will have a neighborhood school.”
Built in 2011 in anticipation of future housing growth and funded with hardship money from the state, Brentwood’s eighth elementary school campus will open to 500 students as a Transitional K-5 for students living in the north Brentwood area. The school is located at 480 Farmington Drive on the corner of Garin Parkway and Farmington Drive near Sand Creek Road.
The opening of the new school required that boundaries be redrawn. The proposed Mary Black borders will incorporate residences to the east of Brentwood Boulevard from Lone Tree Way south to Oak and Chestnut streets. Such boundaries would draw more than 500 students in these areas – students currently attending Brentwood, Garin and Marsh Creek elementary schools.
According to BUSD Board Member Heather Partida, the board had been looking into opening the new facility on a quarterly basis since its completion in 2011. The prospect of a charter school occupying the campus (charter schools are eligible to use empty school facilities if the owner district is not using them) and the expiration of hardship dollars (which must used within a certain time frame, or if a school is built with those dollars, the school must be utilized) was never a significant decision in the board’s move to open the school.
“I don’t think it was any one thing that spurred the decision,” said Partida. “Obviously we were unsure of the fiscal situation and didn’t want a large expenditure on the books that could come with opening a new school at the same time we were cutting programs … worrying about a charter never really came into play.
“And the expiration of the hardship dollars was never really an issue, either. All of those things could have been finalized without opening the school. It’s just the right time to open Mary Casey Black.”
According to Grant, the annual price tag for staffing the new school will be around $400,000. “That’s the number we’ve budgeted for,” said Grant, “and with Prop. 30 passing, that helps us. And there are a lot of moving parts that have brought this all together. We’ve got a good eye on everything.”
Staffing the new school is underway, and the new principal will be named “sooner rather than later,” said Grant.
Mary Casey Black Elementary is named after the retired school district teacher, principal and district administrator who worked in the BUSD for 37 years. Black remains an active member of the community and participates in Brentwood’s Arts Society, the Festival of Trees and the East Contra Costa Historical Society.
The public will get an opportunity to view the new campus on Jan. 15 at two community meetings. The first will be conducted in Spanish at 6 p.m. followed by a session in English at 7 p.m. Both forums will be held in the school’s multi-purpose room. For more information or intra-district transfer forms, call the school at 925-513-6300 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.