Mill Valley Middle School

The past month or so was as tumultuous as it gets in Mill Valley.

But as the Mill Valley School District has set its sights on building a new middle school on the existing site, MVSD trustees sought to move forward with a focus on the road ahead.

In doing so, trustees Sharon Nakatani and Michele Crncich Hodge shared a Marin Voice piece in the Marin IJ and are doing so here as well.

Here’s their post:

As proud longtime residents of Mill Valley, we’ve had the privilege of witnessing the power of this community when we unite in support of our residents’ health, happiness and overall well-being.

Children, our most important residents, are the heart and soul of our community. Investing in their education is an investment in the future. We recognize that what we pour into our children today will determine the kind of society they live in tomorrow. We are better together in ensuring we have a strong and vibrant community for generations to come.

This is precisely why we approach the ongoing debate surrounding the future of Mill Valley Middle School with deep concern and a sense of personal responsibility.

In November 2023, the Mill Valley School District and city officials had a meeting to discuss collaboration and how MVSD could be supported with the rebuilding of MVMS. The district requested parking spaces at the Mill Valley Community Center for staff and possible access to Friends Field for portables. City officials offered neither. Instead, they offered parking spots at the south end of the sewer agency location, space for staging near Bayfront Park and suggested the district work with Mt. Tamalpais United Methodist Church for parking.

Subsequently, MVSD initiated a full title report and survey which was completed over the winter holiday. In January, upon confirmation of ownership, the district informed the city that it would be exploring its options. At no time did the school board make a decision to use Friends Field to rebuild the school. As fiduciaries, it was our responsibility to explore all of our options.

In January and February, the district gathered data and heard from the community. Several conceptual campuses were presented: two of them replaced the main building in situ, two others placed the new main building on the southern half of the field. All concepts kept the existing gymnasium and adjacent support spaces.

There are pros and cons for both site options. What tipped the scale against the field option was cost and delay due to potential litigation, community support for the current campus, temporary loss of fields for youth sports and a divided campus. All litigation, whether based on merit or not, results in a loss of resources for our students – we cannot emphasize this enough.

Additionally, the district received verbal threats of termination and recall, social media threats limiting access to school property and multiple written, as well as verbal, threats of litigation should our property known as Friends Field be chosen for any structure. The argument that the bond language was not being adhered to by considering Friends Field was also postured. Legal review of that allegation confirms that this position has no legal standing.

The district acknowledges the city’s perspective on the historical context of land ownership and use. However there are two important points to consider going forward:

  • Since 2004, no written lease or use agreements have existed between the city and MVSD. In the span of 26 days, the City of Mill Valley and the Mill Valley School District squared off in a feverish debate over the district’s stated intentions, with the district learning just recently that it owned Friends Field, which city officials have called “Mill Valley’s living room.”
  • The recent assertions made by city officials in an attempt to dissuade the trustees from considering all of its options, now raises questions about the city’s intention to interfere with the district’s ownership of its land.

In communication distributed to Mill Valley residents on Feb. 28, the city declared, “Friends Field as a shared recreational resource is mandated by deed restrictions, voter actions, and decades of agreements.” This does not align with the district’s interpretation of the relevant legal documents and agreements.

Friends Field remains the property of MVSD; any suggestion to the contrary is simply inaccurate and lacks legal substantiation. The district wants to be clear – none of these historical documents mandate that the city has veto authority over district decisions on its land that it has owned for over half a century.

Moving forward, the district is committed to creating spaces and opportunities to engage in constructive dialogue with the city to address any misunderstandings and work toward mutually beneficial solutions. Our focus has been, and will continue to be, providing the best education and educational environments for our students. We will take all necessary steps to vigorously defend our authority to do so.

Still catching up? Here’s some additional coverage:




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