Hayward Unified school board approves uses for shuttered campuses

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)

HAYWARD, Calif. — The Hayward Unified School District Board of Education is one step closer to figuring out what to do with four of its shuttered campuses, though some members of the board would like the process to slow down.

On Wednesday, Sept. 27, the board voted 3-1-1, to approve recommendations from a solutions team committee regarding what to do with the four sites designated surplus property. The approved directions are as follows:

  • Bowman Elementary School (520 Jefferson Street) is set to become housing;
  • the Laurel campus (2652 Vergil Court in Castro Valley) is set to become a park and educational space for youth;
  • the Siac Early Learning Center (27211 Tyrrell Avenue) is set to become housing for LGBTQIA+ youth, the unhoused and district employees; and
  • the Cherryland Elementary School campus (585 Willow Avenue) is set to become community and educational spaces for youths.

Trustee Sara Prada abstained, saying she didn’t “feel good going forward with so many questions,” emphasizing the far-reaching consequences of school closures and their effects on still-operating schools and neighborhoods. Board Clerk Joe Ramos was opposed because of the lack of community engagement, adding that he was not interested in building more housing.

“This solutions committee, they didn’t contact the community,” Ramos said. “That’s how come I’m getting all these emails and so are you because a lot of people feel left out.”

Board President Peter Bufete and Vice President April Oquenda clarified that this resolution outlines next steps for staff and does not finalize the ultimate use of these properties.

The four campuses were closed because of declines in enrollment, and in early 2022, the district formed the 7-11 surplus property advisory committee to come up with recommendations regarding what to do with the properties. The solutions team committee was tasked with ranking proposals submitted by 15 organizations interested in developing the sites.

The board’s direction Wednesday sets the stage for negotiations with potential lessees or buyers, prioritizing those aligned with the district’s equity and anti-racism policies, as well as the district’s desire for more housing, longterm leases and uses benefiting the community.

Speakers expressed a variety of opinions on what to do with the properties, including support for leasing over selling, turning the Laurel campus into a park and prioritizing housing for LGBTQIA+ students.

Members of the 7-11 committee said it was important for the board to be specific with its language to clarify that, for instance, there should be transitional kindergarten and kindergarten programs at the Cherryland site rather than just an educational center.

Sonia Waraich can be reached at 510-952-7455.

Watch the Hayward Unified School District Board of Education discuss what to do with four shuttered campuses at its Sept. 27 meeting.

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)

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