By Pablo J. Sáinz
Parents from a south San Diego elementary are claiming that Chula Vista Elementary School District admnistrators left them out of the process of permanently placing a charter high school on the elementary school’s campus.
At a Feb. 26th special meeting the district’s board approved the construction bid for Chula Vista Learning Community Charter High School on Silver Wing Elementary’s campus, something the parents said they had no voice in.
“We were totally blindsided,” said Rosa Surber, a mother of a 5th grader at Silver Wing, during a recent meeting of several concerned parents at an off-campus location to discuss how they will respond to the issue. “Parents weren’t part of the project.
We were ignored.”
But the issue goes back almost two years, when in May 22, 2013, the school district board approved several items for the high school to be placed on the Silver Wing campus. Since then, the high school and the elementary school have shared the campus, only separated by a chain-link fence.
Surber said parents didn’t know about it then, and for two years the school principal and district administrators didn’t address parents’ concerns. She added that it wasn’t until a February 18th baord meeting last month that parents were told about the district’s decision to place CVLCC High School permanently on the Silver Wing campus.
The school board tabled that decision at that meeting, and district administrators, including Silver Wing Principal Ruth Diaz de Leon, accepted the district had not communicated properly with parents.
But Anthony Millican, director of communications for the Chula Vista Elementary School District, said that the supposed lack of communication between district and parents is a matter of opinion.
Board member Eduardo Reyes, who was elected along with two other new board members in November, said placement of the high school had been approved since before the new board members came on board.
Reyes said that by the time they were told about this issue, all that was left to do was to vote on the construction bid for a two-story building.
“Our hads were tied, this had already been approved,” he said.
There are several safety concerns Silver Wing parents have voiced about having a high school on the elementary school campus, not only having been left out of the discussion.
A Silver Wing teacher, who asked to remain anonymous for fear of retribution, summed up those concerns:
“It is completely inappropriate to have high school students on the same campus (as elementary school students),” the teacher said. “I have an extensive background in child development. It’s just wrong developmentally. Besides the fact that stakeholders did not have an opportunity to share, the parking is going to be a real issue as well. There is already a lot of traffic. They are on a scattered schedule but parents get into arguments all the time and some staff at the high school keep telling the parents that the parents cannot use the overflow parking. Ms. Diaz De Leon said that it is shared. And that is not happening. They put up a fence and then they put green plastic around it. I think students will be more curious than ever.”
Surber said that she thinks this wouldn’t have happened if Silver Wing was in the eastern side of the school district, in the Eastlake or Otay Ranch areas.
“For too long our community has been ignored, but we will raise our voices, and will demand an explanation,” she said.
Surber said they have reached out to local elected officials for help.
San Diego Councilmember David Alvarez, which represents the area where Silver Wing is located, sent a representative to the February18th board meeting to learn more about this issue.
“The charter school siting at Silver Wing Elementary School was recently brought to my attention by concerned parents and members of the community,” Alvarez said. “Although plans for the charter school began in 2012, it is apparent that community input and communication were left out of the process. It is always important for public entities to find ways to remain open and transparent with the public. I have requested that the Chula Vista School District keep my office informed on this project, as well as future projects impacting the community.”
At the end of the day, the Silver Wing teacher said that “I do not think there was transparency in this case. There was a lack of communication since May 2013.”
Surber and other parents said they will continue to press the school district to stop construction of CVLCC High School on the Silver Wing campus.
“Even if nothing changes, we want our voices to be heard,” she said. “They will not ignore us anymore.”