By Katrina Davis
Kids hug each other goodbye, clumsily clinging to their belongings. They have giant grins as they run to the sides of their parents on the last day of school.
Embracing summer break is a pretty common scene this time of year. Add in the barbeque on the basketball courts, the kids playing a game of Four Square and the adults watching them from the shaded area, and you have yourself a regular end of the year school party! But none of these children will be returning to Lakeview Elementary School next year.
In early fall last year, the OUSD school board voted to close 5 schools to save an annual $2 million. Although the school board might see closing 5 schools as necessary, since it will supposedly be affording the schools that are still operating more academic opportunities, some people don’t see that silver lining.
“We first found out about it when Tony Smith put his proposal online and parents got wind of it and we had to find out actually on the website through Oakland Unified School District last year, 2011, around September.” says Joel Velasquez, a parent of 3, who has had two children attend Lakeview, and was planning on having his youngest attend when she was of age.
“We first found out about it when (OUSD Superintendent) Tony Smith put his proposal online,” says Velasquez, whose son was attending Lakeview when the closures were announced. “Parents got wind of (the closure plan) and we had to find out actually on the website through Oakland Unified School District last year, 2011, around September.” Velasquez was planning on having his youngest attend when she was of age.
When asked how he feels about the closing of a school that his children grew up in, Velasquez says, “Honestly, it’s not really about me. This doesn’t just affect the families at these schools. This affects a community in and around the schools.”
Pamela Chinn-Scoffern, a first grade teacher who’s been at Lakeview since 1987, also shares her sentiments on the school’s closing. “Lakeview was my life,” she explains. “I’ve taught a total of 27 years, and I felt Lakeview calling me back, so I came back again after just a short hiatus… I love the culture, I love the parents, I love the teachers, the community.”
OUSD’s handling of the closure prompted Chinn-Scoffren to retire early. “I was so disillusioned with the district and their school board and their decision to close the school under the guise” of budget constraints, she says. But she’s not going to get out of the educational field however. “I’ll be substituting, and I hope to write some children books based on my experiences here on Lakeview”.
Lakeview alumna Elle Misiluti came by to show her support on the last day school. “Lakeview means everything to me. This is my home. It’s heartbreaking that they’re going to take it away.”
Being at Lakeview on it’s final day of school and speaking to children who will be attending other elementary schools next year makes you realize it’s more than just a school that’s being closed. It’s a community being displaced, and lives being disrupted.