Meeting Notes, Feb 29, 2024

Watch Meeting Here

Tonight’s Topic: What’s next for the Adams School

Map view of a school


  1. Jim Hanson         
  2. Nick Despota
  3. Heather Bristow
  4. Don Gosney
  5. Joanna Pace
  6. Jinwei Zhang
  7. Adele Ho
  8. Bara Sapir
  9. Elizabeth Sojourner
  10. James Cluggish
  11. Jennifer Mills
  12. Jon Sargent
  13. Keely Rider
  14. Laurie Van Gelder
  15. Martin
  16. Michele Rappaport     
  17. Mike Peritz
  18. Nel
  19. Oscar Romo
  20. Rita Barouch
  21. Susan Wehrle



The Draft Contra Costa County 2045 General Plan and Draft Climate Action Plan (CAP) 2024 Update are available for public review. They County invites us to explore their work and ensure it reflects our collective aspirations for Contra Costa County’s future. 

The Draft Contra Costa County 2045 General Plan and Climate Action Plan 2024 Update are available for public review. Learn more and comment (by the newly extended deadline of April 8th @ 5pm) on the Draft General Plan and Climate Action Plan 2024 Update.

Why it’s important, from John Gioia: “General Plan – it’s the first time we’ve done this in about 30 years. In the general plan are the major guidelines and policies affecting how land use occurs in the unincorporated parts of our County. It’s like the Constitution. And then, all of our zoning has to be consistent with the general principles of our general plan. So it’s the opportunity to lay the foundation for how development occurs in our unincorporated areas.”

More resources:


Community Emergency Response Team (CERT): Richmond’s CERT in-person training will be starting March 28. You’re invited to sign up or forward this invitation to interested neighbors, friends, or groups who could benefit. 

Classes will run for 9-weeks on Thursdays, plus one Saturday class, and a final disaster simulation drill.

  • Dates: Thursdays, March 28 through May 23
  • Times: 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm
  • A Saturday class, April 27th 9:30-Noon
  • Place: Richmond Fire Department Training Center, 3506 Cutting Blvd.
  • Last day and final drill: Saturday, May 25, 9-Noon

Participants will receive training materials, classes in light search and rescue, medical assessment, organization, fire suppression, pet preparedness and more. They will gain essential skills to support their communities after an earthquake or other disaster. 

For questions, or to enroll, please email:

East Richmond Neighborhood Council: 

Next East Richmond Neighborhood Council Meeting will be March 28th, 7-8pm. A Zoom link will be emailed ahead of time.

Jon Sargent, from the East Richmond Heights MAC group (our unincorporated East Richmond neighbors) will join us at the next meeting to discuss some areas of common interest.

Reminder: East Richmond Neighborhood Council meets the last Thursday of the month @ 7-8pm, for 6-8 months of the year (not including Summer months or December). We are tentatively scheduled for January, February, March, April, May, June, September, and October every year, though this schedule is subject to change.

Look for Meeting Minutes via the newsletter after each meeting. They’ll also be posted to the website.

Reminder: Sat 8/10 dumpster day. 4-5 people will be needed to help direct traffic. More planning to come as we get closer to the date.


Keynote Speaker: Don Gosney on the Future of Adams Middle School

Don Gosney gave a detailed update (8:05 minutes into meeting recording) on closed schools in Richmond, highlighting Adams Middle School in East Richmond, and the future possibilities of this property. Don has assembled a wealth of information by working and volunteering with the West Contra Costa Unified School District (WCCUSD) in various capacities over the last 56 years. 

NOTE: To stay up to date on the future of the Adams School, we recommend following the School District’s 7-11 Committee.” The Committee will be advising the School Board in the year ahead on a new direction  to Adams School. 

Click here for the agenda on the next “7-11 Committee” meeting on Tuesday, March 5th, starting at  6pm, The public can attend online by Zoom.

Disclaimer: The below is a partial transcription and best-effort summary of the meeting speaker’s presentation of a complex topic. It’s being provided by the Neighborhood Council for neighbors who are interested in this topic, but were not able to attend the meeting.


Since Adams Middle School closed, the School Board has been discussing whether Adams should be declared as a surplus property, and ultimately what to do with it. The Board is required to appoint a “7-11 Committee” (meaning 7 people min, 11 people max) to advise them on a new direction for this property. Tonight’s speaker, Don Gosney, was one of the first committee appointees. While 7-11 is an advisory body only, they do a deep dive on the legalities, history, and options for the Board and the public.

Concerns were raised about the lack of information from the District and Board about the fate of this property. Meanwhile, the 7-11 Committee hasn’t met for a year for lack of a quorum of appointed members. New members have since been appointed to the Committee. 

Don estimates that the 7-11 Committee will be discussing the Adams School and three other surplus properties over the next 4-6 meetings to develop recommendations for the School Board. It’s possible that a decision on the property could be made in September.

Some unique challenges on the Adams School property:
Picture of a closed and abandoned school

Don shared the following information about the Adams School site and the process school districts are required to follow on surplus properties: 

  • The Adams School property sits directly over the Hayward fault. The Field Act requires higher seismic standards for schools; Adams School is considered too expensive to retrofit. At the same time, it will be expensive to demolish the current buildings and demolition work will require abatement measures for lead and asbestos.
  • Once Adams is deemed a surplus property, the district has to first offer it to non-profits and other government agencies. This doesn’t mean the district would be giving Adams away, but there are often reasons why these agencies and non-profits don’t snatch them up.
  • The district is legally obligated to repurpose these sites in a way that best benefits the school district
  • Income from the sale of the property must be used for the district’s capital projects. It cannot be used to pay for salaries, benefits,  textbooks, or sports programs.
  • The primary function of the Board of Education is to deal with the finances of the district (which now includes a $26M deficit).

School Bond Oversight and Budget Concerns

  • To date, voters approved bonds to rebuild and repair 53 West County schools. Out of the original $2.4B bond program, $575M remains to rebuild and repair 18 schools.
  • In 2000, voters approved Prop 39, which requires an independent citizens bond oversight committee. The ballot language was vague and allows the school board and staff to decide who will serve on this body and what they will review. About one year ago, the staff drafted a new board policy to oversee the $2.4B bond indebtedness.  
  • In 2015, a facilities master plan was developed that ranked schools based on repair and replacement needs. However, it was reported that a Board President eliminated the Master Plan Committee and reorganized the master plan’s priorities for school repair and rebuilding. Visioning sessions were subsequently held at the schools and the School Board approved $240M for each for the two high schools from the remaining bond funds. The 83 year-old Steege Elementary – a school in need of significant repair – was reassigned to third priority. With this schedule, it’s estimated there will be students spending their entire high school lives in portables.
  • The County Board of Supervisors will be making the final decision on what the School District proposes for the Adams School property.
  • Salary takes up the bulk of the School District budget, and so reducing workforce must be considered in current budget deficit deliberations. By law, pink slips must be issued by March 15th to issue layoffs by the end of the year, whether layoffs take place or not. Without pink slips, there can be no layoffs, even if there’s no money to pay salaries. For the last two years, the Board voted against sending out pink slips. Within days, the district received certified letters from the county Board of Education, advising them that they were no longer a going concern, and that the district finances would be overseen by the county. The district is to pay a six figure fee in compensation to the county for this oversight, just as they did for 15+ years after filing for bankruptcy in the 90’s.
  • A few years ago, the school district was required to elect trustees based on districts. Currently there is no one coming forward with interest to represent District 3, which ecompasses all of San Pablo, North Richmond, and the Iron Triangle, along with a slice of North and East. 
  • Meanwhile there’s a lot of difficulty finding teachers. There are many classes that still do not have full time teachers assigned to them, and it’s nearly March. The district is reaching out to Spain and the Phillipines to find teachers.

What Ideas Have Already Come Up for the Future of the Property?

Naturally, many wholesome and idyllic ideas come forward, but the School District is not in the business of being landlords or developers – so many ideas, while ideal for our community, may be unrealistic for the District to do.

Here are some ideas that have been suggested:

  • Residential units (36 units)
  • Reduced cost workforce housing (for teachers and district employees)
  • Soccer fields
  • Dog park

One option is to trade surplus school property for a property with already established revenue streams (i.e. apartment complexes, etc.). In one example, a school district traded a surplus property for a property in another location with a Home Depot earning more than $1M per year in revenue. 

In years past, the School Board considered selling the property to a charter school (Caliber Beta). 

Terra Realtors are the consultants who are providing guidance on a process for sale of the surplus properties.

What You Do To Stay Informed and Be Involved

Don advises neighbors who are interested in the plan for the Adams School property to attend the upcoming 7-11 Committee meetings. The first few meetings will recap what’s happened in the last few years. The next 7-11 meeting will be March 5th, starting at 6pm, and that the public can attend online by Zoom.

Don provided us with a wealth of information on what’s taken place so far. For further information, Don can be reached at: or (510) 685-2403.