District to close Robeson in June

The closing date for the school of art is being pushed to June 2010 from June 2012.

The Oakland Unified School Board was expected to vote to close Paul Robeson School of Visual & Performing Arts on Wednesday, Dec. 16, based on a recommendation by top district academic officials.

The board’s decision was scheduled to be made after the Green & Gold went to press, but all indications were that the school board would approve the closure.

Originally, the school district said it was closing the school due to dropping enrollment and low test scores. The decision to close it earlier appears to be purely financial.

The district is looking for ways to cut $28 million from its budget, according to the Oakland Tribune.

Paul Robeson Principal Betsye Steele believes that it’s a tragedy that the school is closing down at the end of the school year. This is Steele’s second year as principal.

“It takes longer than just a year to change a school,” said Steele.

Steele said she has been trying to help improve the school by changing the curriculum.

“We’ve changed our focus from visual and performing arts to digital arts,” said Steele.

Paul Robeson has been offering graphic design, videography and photography since last school year.

Seniors who have attended Paul Robeson since their freshman year are upset with the idea of closing down their school.

Damy Duperval is one of several who are sad about the closing of their school.

“I’m sad because since [Paul Robeson is] a smaller school, you get more one-on-one interaction,” said Duperval, “Also [I’m sad] because we all know each other and we’re like family.”

Paul Robeson students who won’t be graduating at the end of the school year are also upset about the closing of the school.

“It’s a bad experience for me to attend a school that is shutting down before I get a chance to even graduate,” said Ricky McLane, a junior at Paul Robeson.

McLane and other students were told they could transfer to any other Oakland high school to finish their education. McLane said he would transfer to Media Academy.

Others shared similar feelings.

“I’m kind of mad because I thought I was going to be able to graduate from here,” said sophomore Tomas Alire, who had been told last year that he would be in the last graduating class.

The imminent closure of Paul Robeson has students already looking for a new school.

“It’s bad that the school’s closing down because now I have to look for another school to go to,” said junior Nayeli Diaz.

A few juniors, including Diaz, dislike the fact that they have to start their senior year at a whole new school. Diaz said she’s sad about having to start her senior year at a different high school.

Paul Robeson students are not the only students in this situation. The school board was also expected to close BEST High School on the McClymond’s campus.