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East Bay School District Celebrates End Of Decades Of Debt

RICHMOND (KCBS) – Friday was a momentous day for the West Contra Costa Unified School District as the district is now free and clear of a multi-million dollar state loan.

Marches, hunger strikes, lawsuits and deep, painful budget cuts and layoffs followed the filing of bankruptcy in 1991 by the then-Richmond Unified School District.

KCBS' Dave Padilla Reports:

The district was on the hook for $29 million after becoming the first in the state to enter receivership.

School board president Charles Ramsey said the state loan came at a tremendous cost.

"We paid $47 million back to the state of California. On a $29 million loan, we paid $18 million in interest," he said.

Ramsey said education suffered as the district tried to pay off the loan, but they finally have been able to pay it off, four years ahead of schedule.

California Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson was on hand to receive the final check on Friday.

"$8.1 million, that means this district is free from its debt," he said.

A ceremony was held at the newly built Ford Elementary in Richmond on Friday, which is seen as an example of the district's climb back to financial solvency.

(Copyright 2012 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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