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[whitespace] Politicians have say in Broadway's move to Muir

Willow Glen--The school district has come up against another roadblock in its epic struggle to relocate Broadway High School. Assemblyman Jim Cunneen and state Sen. Byron Sher have joined those urging San Jose Unified to reconsider moving the continuation high school to the John Muir Middle School campus.

The representatives say the district, and the Board of Education, didn't give adequate consideration to neighbors' concerns about moving Broadway to Speak Avenue.

The district, however, is holding its ground.

"There has been no indication from any board member to ask for a reconsideration," says superintendent Dr. Linda Murray. "My recommendation stands.

"We did have extensive contact with the community," she continues. "It's obviously not a process that the community feels is adequate, but it's the process we felt would best work to make an objective and rational decision, to look at alternatives and select the one that was best for everyone involved."

In letters to Murray and to board president Carol Myers, Cunneen and Sher say the process is flawed.

"When making a decision to relocate a campus into a different neighborhood, a much longer open community dialogue period is critical," Cunneen says, in his letter to Murray. "Without open and timely communication, a sense of mistrust builds between the community and the district.

"I respectfully urge the board to reconsider the decision to relocate Broadway High School to John Muir Middle School in light of the strong community opposition," the letter continues. "How can such a move prove successful--and without lingering discord--with the prevalence of anger and surprise expressed by so many of my constituents who live in the John Muir community?"

The letters follow in the wake of strong community opposition to moving Broadway--an alternative high school for students who have dropped out of other San Jose Unified high schools--to a three-acre site on John Muir Middle School's 24-acre campus.

The move will put 25 portable classrooms at the far end of a field on the middle school campus, with fencing separating the two schools. Broadway's schedule will be designed so that students will arrive and depart at different times than the middle school students.

Some John Muir parents and neighbors have expressed fears that Broadway students will be a bad influence on their seventh- and eighth-graders, and that relocating the continuation high school will bring more traffic, vandalism and graffiti to their community.

"I can't tell you for sure that crime will go up or traffic will go up," says Jim Chase, a John Muir neighbor and president of Community Action in Robertsville (CAIR), a neighborhood group originally formed in opposition to the district's decision to relocate Broadway to Muir's campus. (Robertsville is the area just south of Willow Glen.) "But I can certainly tell you that crime won't go down and that traffic won't go down," says Chase. "Therefore, I have to assume that any change will be in the negative direction."

Despite angry protests by parents, however, on July 1 the board voted to move the continuation program to John Muir.

"The community's concern is that the two schools will share a campus, and my assurance is that they will be separate campuses. They will be contiguous but Broadway will have its own school," Murray says, adding that Willow Glen High School and Willow Glen Middle School share a campus.

"There's never been any problems there," she says. "If anything, the two schools benefit from it."

A similar scenario exists at Stone Gate Elementary, where a Santa Clara County-run continuation middle school shares a campus with the elementary school.

"We don't have any problems," says John F. Delgado, principal of Stone Gate. "We share a cafeteria, we share a physical-education area outside and a turf area, and it's been a very cooperative and positive experience here."

But the fight's not over yet, Chase says, hinting at a forthcoming lawsuit against the district.

"We [CAIR] have a lot planned. Our lawyers are in contact with them. We have made it clear if they do not address what we feel are violations of the Brown Act and the [California Environmental Quality Act], we will move forward to analyze it legally," Chase says.

The CEQA requires that public agencies conduct environmental reviews of any projects that may have an adverse environmental effect. San Jose Unified, at the initial stages of the CEQA process, has determined that the Broadway move will not have any major environmental impacts.

The Brown Act requires school districts to notify the public of any meetings.

John Muir neighbors say they didn't receive adequate notice of the district's plans to relocate Broadway. District officials, however, say the entire relocation project was open to the community.

"The committee worked in public, meeting with and hearing from many members of the community during the process," says Murray, in a letter to Cunneen. "The formation of the committee was reported in the Willow Glen Resident and the Mercury News. Reporters from both these papers were sent minutes of the first meeting and invited to attend the second, a tour of the potential sites. The public hearing was noticed in an appropriate time-frame in the newspaper and on our website."

Both the Assembly and state Senate are on recess, and neither Cunneen nor Sher could be reached for comment. Chief aides, however, say they hope the district will reconsider.

"[Senator Sher] is hopeful that they can resolve this issue, and he'd like to see the district include the neighbors and accommodate their concerns," says Mike Potter, Sher's district coordinator.
Jessica Lyons


For the full text of letters by Assemblyman Jim Cunneen, state Sen. Byron Sher and superintendent Dr. Linda Murray, visit the Willow Glen Resident online at www.wgresident.com.

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Web extra to the August 12-18, 1999 issue of Metro.

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