HAYWARD, Calif. — The Hayward Unified School District is trying to figure out what to do with four campuses designated as surplus property. It’s leaning toward turning them into housing, but community members say the campuses would be better suited to other uses.
On Wednesday, Aug. 23, Allan Garde, assistant superintendent of business, told the Board of Education that the 7-11 surplus property advisory committee recommended converting some of the campuses, like the old Bowman Elementary School, into housing for district employee, student or youth transitioning out of homelessness.
“There’s a housing crisis in Hayward,” Garde said, “and many of our most vulnerable community members are the ones impacted by this housing crisis.”
If the board follows the committee’s recommendations, Bowman Elementary (520 Jefferson Street) could be repurposed into a mixed-use space with a preschool or daycare alongside medium- to high-density housing. Similarly, the Laurel campus (2652 Vergil Court in Castro Valley) could become rental housing for district staff and moderate-income households. The Siac Early Learning Center (27211 Tyrrell Avenue), where the Covenant House project is under construction, is set to provide emergency housing for youth by winter 2023. The fate of the former Cherryland Elementary School campus (585 Willow Avenue) is still to be determined.
Fifteen organizations, including the Hayward Area Recreation and Park District, Red Hood Capital Partners and YMCA of the Bay Area, responded to the district’s requests for proposal for the four properties. The district’s solutions team will rank the proposals over the next 30 days. The board is set to decide on the proposals and next steps during its Sept. 27 meeting.
Community members expressed other priorities during the meeting. Six residents of Castro Valley voiced concerns about not being consulted and noted that there was already a lot of housing development taking place in Castro Valley. They advocated for converting the Laurel campus into a park to benefit the neighborhood, which currently lacks nearby parks.
One speaker emphasized the importance of the Hayward Twin Oaks Montessori School for neurodivergent children and urged the district to wait until the school found a permanent site before deciding what to do with the property.
A couple teachers and a community member recommended reopening some of the closed campuses to address overcrowding issues in district schools.
Garde said that declining enrollment led to the school closures. Enrollment, which once peaked at 30,126 in 1966, now stands at 17,993 students, and has been on a consistent downward trend since around 2000.
Photo caption: The gymnasium of Bowman Elementary School, which permanently closed after the 2021-2022 school year, sits partially destroyed shortly after the start of an early morning fire on July 14. (Courtesy of Hayward Unified School District)