Dear Bunche families, staff, and communities:
I’m writing to share an update about the campus (previously known as Lowell) that houses West Oakland Middle School and Ralph Bunche Academy.
- First, Envision Academy, a charter middle school, has occupied the top floor of the F building since Fall 2019. Envision is planning to move to a new location after this school year.
- Second, Ralph J Bunche Academy (Bunche), an OUSD continuation school that moved onto the West Oakland Middle School (WOMS) campus in February 2020, will remain on the campus. Bunche will continue to occupy the A building, and will move into additional classrooms in the F building in fall 2021 after Envision leaves.
You may remember that Bunche originally came to the Lowell campus a year ago as an emergency decision due to unsafe conditions at McClymonds High School. (see attached FAQ) It is now clear, however, that the Bunche facility is not safe for students to return. (see attached FAQ) I am therefore recommending that Bunche remain on the Lowell campus so their students have a safe and healthy school.
Bunche and WOMS will be fully independent, separate schools sharing a campus.
The two schools are both working to ensure that all students have a rich learning experience. Additionally, the two schools will safely share the campus as we return to in-person instruction. Student safety - including for COVID - will be prioritized as we plan for classes, lunch, passing periods, the start and end of the school day, etc. All of our students will have adequate supervision. Each school will have its own areas of the campus to learn and socialize.
The principals, in partnership with OUSD leadership, are working on the conditions for a positive, long-term co-location (e.g., agreements about space usage, facility upgrades, safety, staffing, etc.).
Supporting both programs on the Lowell campus
We are optimistic that this co-location will help support both programs. This will bring long-term stability for WOMS which has been co-located with many different schools and programs in recent years. It will support Bunche students with a safe and healthy facility.
Thank you for your ongoing support and flexibility. I am confident that these two great schools will continue to thrive and provide important supports and opportunities for our students.
Frequently Asked Questions
What kind of school is West Oakland Middle School?
West Oakland Middle School (WOMS) is a comprehensive OUSD middle school serving approximately 200 sixth, seventh, and eighth graders.
What kind of school is Ralph J. Bunche Academy?
Ralph J. Bunche Academy (Bunche) is an OUSD Continuation School school teaching approximately 100 tenth, eleventh, and twelfth graders a Hospitality, Tourism, and Recreation curriculum where students explore possible careers in the Culinary or Hospitality industries.
When did Bunche move to the WOMS campus and why?
In February of 2020, Bunche moved to the WOMS campus. This move resulted from the McClymonds High School campus being temporarily closed due to the chemical trichloroethylene (TCE) found in groundwater under the campus. To solve for the emergency at McClymonds, McClymonds classes were temporarily moved to the Bunche site and Bunche was re-located to West Oakland Middle School.
Why isn’t Bunche moving back to its original location?
It has become clear that the old Bunche campus is not suitable for students or staff. The campus has ongoing pest infestation, dry rot, access compliance concerns, alarm deficiencies, lead paint, and trace amounts of lead in soil. Many of the systems including mechanical, plumbing, sewer, and electrical are also at end of life and need to be replaced. In fact, in the fall of 2019, the Alameda County Medical Therapy Unit that also occupied space on the Bunche campus notified OUSD that they would no longer offer programming to students at that site due to their analysis saying it was unsafe. At that time, OUSD had begun to investigate an alternate location for Bunche in order to stop using the unsafe facility. We are now recommending that Bunche remain at WOMS rather than returning to the unsafe facility at 1240 18th St.
Where will Bunche classrooms and offices be located?
Bunche is currently occupying the A building and two rooms in the H building. Envision Academy, a charter school that is currently occupying some space on the WOMS campus, is expected to relocate its program in 21-22. At that point Bunche will move out of the H building and into classrooms on the second floor of the F building.
Will there be space on campus for WOMS to continue to grow?
As WOMS continues to grow, there will be adequate classroom space to accommodate students and programs.
Can WOMS students attend Bunche for high school?
Bunche does not serve ninth graders, so WOMS students cannot transition directly into Bunche after middle school.