Update to Proposed NUSD
By Jaki Jones
The Northgate Community Advocacy for our Public Schools (NCAPS) continues the process required to create a new school district, while opposition mounts to the secession from MDUSD in the form of Northgate Uncapped.
NCAPS believes it has collected more than enough signatures of registered voters in the new district attendance area to further its mission to create a Northgate Unified School District (NUSD). Jim Mills, community outreach for NCAPS says, “The signature goal for the petition was 25% of registered voters within the boundaries of the proposed NUSD, which is a very high bar to meet. So our goal is just under 5,000 valid signatures. We believe that we have met the 25% goal, but we are still gathering extra signatures as a cushion. We are checking every name against the voter database provided by the county, and discarding signatures that don't conform.”
In addition, the group must produce a report showing the proposal meets the nine criteria for a district reorganization recommended by the California State Board of Education and submit the report to the county committee on school district organization. The county and state boards of education would have to approve the proposal, which the group plans to submit in February. Once the petition is submitted, the county superintendent of education has 30 days to determine its sufficiency. Mills added that, “After that sufficiency determination is made, the county committee will have to schedule hearings within 60 days.” Mills believes the entire process will be lengthy, but if all goes as planned, the initiative will become a local ballot measure. In the meantime, the community, affected teachers and administrators, will continue to discuss, debate and learn more about the proposed school district.
Not everyone is pleased about the possible “divorce” from MDUSD. Those opposed, including educators, parents and community members, have formed a growing coalition against the secession movement. On January 13, Northgate teachers distributed leaflets before school to inform parents that they want to remain with MDUSD. The Facebook page, NorthgateUNCAPPED, advocates against NCAPS proposal. The group adds a positive perspective, highlighting what is working well at Northgate and the feeder schools, and how any past grievances with MDUSD are no longer relevant. Northgate High School teacher Meg Honey said on the Facebook page, “Northgate CAPS does not speak for me, nor does it accurately represent the experience I have had in our district as a student, coach, or teacher. I am deeply troubled by the narrative they have constructed and truly hope that you will ask a lot of questions before signing a petition.” The page also details instructions for community members who would like to withdraw their NCAPS petition signature.
On January 11, Northgate HS Principal Michael McAlister penned an open letter to the community stating, “I believe that breaking away from MDUSD in order to form NUSD is a decision that should be addressed with great care. It should also be cause for concern for each person in our community.” The letter goes on to detail many of the financial and logistical challenges the proposed new district would face.
Stay up to date on both sides of the issue on Facebook at Northgate CAPS and Northgate Uncapped.