SoMa campus likely to expand

A plan to expand a South of Market elementary school that largely serves Filipino families into a K-8 campus appears to be headed for school board approval Tuesday.

Bessie Carmichael Elementary is the only school in the district with a Tagalog bilingual program. In recent years, parents and staff, who say they want to keep their students sheltered in theTagalog language and Filipino community, have asked the district to allow students to remain enrolled past fifth grade, into the middle school years.

Last year, Bessie Carmichael's principal submitted a proposal that suggested the school be expanded to accommodate two classrooms for sixth-grade students with an eventual plan to move them up through to the eighth grade by the fall of 2007. Lacking a firm facilities expansion plan, the school board voted only to allow the sixth-grade class to remain at the school, but there is no room on the existing campus to provide classrooms for next year's seventh grade.

Expanding the school would cost approximately $500,000 for one-time facility improvements, according to district officials. In addition, they estimate an additional $220,000 would be spent each year to run the expanded school.

Although the plan to expand Bessie Carmichael was approved by three school board committees that oversee district finances, facilities and curriculum, several school board members told The Examiner that they have reservations about approving the expansion at a time when the district is facing financial uncertainty and declining enrollment. Within the past year, the board has voted to close six schools and merge four others into two sites.

“I don't think we have the money to do it; it doesn't make any sense to follow through on it,” board member Dan Kelly said. “But we've started down this path by allowing the kids to stay there.”

Board Vice President Sarah Lipson noted that if the district derailed the plan, the sixth-grade students would be dispersed to start next year at different middle schools, where their peers would have the advantage of already having familiarized themselves with the school and each other during this year.

“We need to finish the commitment we made last year. It's the right thing to do,” Lipson said.

Bessie Carmichael parent Teresa Dulalas, who has a son and a daughter in the school's sixth-grade class this year, said she's counting on the board to vote for the expansion.

“I don't want them to be jumping to other schools. I want them to keep building relationships [at Bessie Carmichael],” Dulalas said. “We're Filipino-Americans; it has to do with identity and culture.”

beslinger@examiner.comBay Area NewsLocalneighborhoods

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

District Attorney Chesa Boudin announces charges against former SFPD Officer Christopher Samoyoa in the 2017 fatal shooting of Keita O’Neill at a press conference outside the Hall of Justice on Monday, Nov. 23, 2020. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
DA Boudin charges fired SFPD officer with manslaughter over fatal shooting

Ex-Officer Christopher Samayoa to face criminal charges in killing of Keita O’Neil

The area near the Castro Muni Metro Station is expected to be affected by construction work on the Twin Peaks Tunnel, with lane closures on Market Street and some loss of parking. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Construction on Twin Peaks Tunnel to begin November 30

Area around Castro Muni Station will see greatest impacts including lane closures on Market Street

(Genaro Molina/Pool/Los Angeles Times/TNS)
Newsom calls latest surge of COVID-19 cases ‘unprecendented’

By Eli Walsh Bay City News Foundation California’s latest surge of COVID-19… Continue reading

Dr. Barbara Ferrer, director of the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, during a news conference on March 10, 2020. (Myung J. Chun/Los Angeles Times/TNS)
LA County suspends outdoor dining at restaurants as coronavirus surges

By Alex Wigglesworth Los Angeles Times Los Angeles County public health officials… Continue reading

Renderings of the main entrance to upcoming Mission Bay elementary school on Owens Street. (Courtesy photo)
SFUSD offers first look at planned Mission Bay elementary school

San Francisco school officials this month unveiled the design of a planned… Continue reading

Most Read