Enrollment jumps at MV Whisman

Enrollment is up substantially this fall at local elementary and middle schools. Officials speculate that the marked -- and unanticipated -- rise is due, in part, to an influx of military families moving into Moffett Field housing, as well as fewer fifth-graders than usual leaving the district.

The Mountain View Whisman district has 170 more students than it did last year, about three times more than expected, according to Stephanie Totter, assistant superintendent. The district had anticipated an additional 40 to 60 students, Totter said.

This year 222 students from military families will attend local schools.

Rebecca Murga, a representative of the 63rd Regional Support Command at Moffett Field, said she was not permitted to give exact numbers of military families living on base or in other military housing.

However, Murga said, the 63rd is a relatively new. It was created in September 2008 when two smaller commands merged and the command's headquarters was moved to Moffett Field.

Totter said that the elementary schools may have been able to absorb the growth better than the middle schools because the district recently increased its student-teacher ratio in kindergarten, first-, second- and third-grade classrooms. This year, in an effort to address budgetary issues, it rose from 20-1 to 25-1.

Yet, because of the unexpected growth, classrooms across the district have exceeded even those increased target ratios.

For teachers, Totter said, that means a bit more planning will be required. For students, it means they may get less one-on-one time with instructors.

It's not a cause for alarm, Totter said. Most of the district's bigger classes are only two or three students over their target student-teacher ratio.

"For some students there may not be a negative or a positive impact," Totter said, noting that some might say the larger the class, the lower the chance that individual students' needs will be met. "There is some research that suggests a smaller class size doesn't necessarily guarantee success of every child."

So far this year, the district has hired two new full time elementary teachers -- one at Huff and a dual immersion instructor at Castro. At Crittenden and Graham, administrators have worked to rearrange the master schedules to ensure students are spread as evenly as possible throughout the schools. That way, Totter said, if there is a class that exceeds its targeted student-teacher ratio, it won't be by much.

Next year, she said, the district expects to hire more middle school instructors to keep up with the growing student body.

Mountain View Whisman enrollment


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Posted by James
a resident of Whisman Station
on Sep 24, 2010 at 3:58 pm

I heard some classes are 30:1, more volunteers needed, if you're a tech worker who doesn't need to be in early to work every day, volunteer one day a week from 8-10(recess).

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Posted by Margot
a resident of Waverly Park
on Sep 24, 2010 at 10:27 pm

I don't understand why the district is always so underprepared!! Isn't this lack of planning part of what led to the premature closing of Slater? The city and the school district do not seem to be able to work together to coordinate the implications of the growth. I certainly don't plan to vote for any more city council members who want more housing if there's no plan for the additional students that it will bring!

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Posted by MV Mom
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Sep 25, 2010 at 11:27 pm

Margot, I agree about the city council elections. I won't be voting for some of the incumbents I had previously voted for. The situation with district office is getting ridiculous, schools are just as crowded as ever and it is only going to get worse. I volunteer in classrooms, donate to our school and to MVEF. I'm not sure what else I can do.

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Posted by James
a resident of Whisman Station
on Sep 26, 2010 at 9:15 am

Keep in mind that property tax revenue dropped significantly in the county. What are the council candidates positions on Shoreline funds?

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Posted by John the man
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Sep 26, 2010 at 8:29 pm

Margot, the reason why school districts are seemingly unprepared each fall for enrollment is because parents often don't enroll their children until the very first day of school. The school district simply doesn't know they are coming because parents can't be bothered to let the district know beforehand.

Don't blame the district, blame the parents.

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Posted by Mark
a resident of Monta Loma
on Sep 26, 2010 at 9:25 pm

Why are they so unprepared? Cuts to funding! Schwarzenegger has cut education beyond the bare bones. In 2009, California was DEAD LAST in per-pupil funding! Some 60,000 elementary and high school teachers have been cut state-wide in the past 2 years, and Meg Whitman wants to cut 100,000 more.

Schools can't accommodate the students they already have, let alone new enrollment, if cuts continue.

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Posted by Mark
a resident of Monta Loma
on Sep 26, 2010 at 9:36 pm

I see talk about people volunteering as aides. Most people do not have the time for that; in this present economy, people are forced to work multiple jobs and irregular hours.

You may ask why layed of teachers aren't working as aids. Aids are often asked to do things that anyone with a teaching credential legally cannot. Like assist kids with going to the bathroom.

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Posted by James
a resident of Whisman Station
on Sep 27, 2010 at 10:47 am

Most large tech companies (Google, Apple, HP, Microsoft, etc. )encourage their employees volunteer in the community, including matching hours with cash donations. It's not a big deal for Joe/Jane Programmer to arrive late one day a week after volunteering since techies tend to work odd hours anyway.

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Posted by Military Mom
a resident of North Whisman
on Sep 27, 2010 at 10:26 pm

Officials speculate that the marked -- and unanticipated -- rise is due, in part, to an influx of military families moving into Moffett Field housing"

I seriously doubt it's military families that are slow to enroll their kids in schools! The military has extensive family support plans and sponsorships to plan for where their kids will go to school the following year.

For Totter to pull out a canned military family excuse is just lame and shameful.

The story always missed is that the district receives extra funding for military students. It all gets thrown into the general fund and we never see any benefits from it.

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Posted by jane
a resident of North Whisman
on Sep 28, 2010 at 4:21 pm

It is not the City Council that makes the decision to close schools. The School Board made the decision to close Slater even with rooms packed with people disputing projected enrollement figures etc. etc. etc. So please don't confuse the power to close schools or project enrollment with jobs within City Council - that rests squarely on the shoulders of the School Board, which is also the boss of the Superintendent. The School Board closed Slater and now needs portables to house students while receiving $300K annually for leasing the Slater site. THe School Board closed WhHisman School as well. Crowded schools with traffic congestion and students in portables...don't like it? Don't re-elect the School Board.

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Posted by Mark
a resident of Monta Loma
on Sep 29, 2010 at 10:44 am

Military Mom - You would do well to re-read that sentence you quoted, because you clearly misunderstood it.

And are you claiming that the military announces family arrivals in reasonable time to the respective school districts so the districts can prepare?

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Posted by Steve
a resident of Rex Manor
on Sep 29, 2010 at 11:52 am

As I recall from my kids' elementary days (before the Navy left Moffett), Federal students need to be a minimum percentage of total student population before any specific aid kicks in. The district lost that revenue source once, and will likely be glad when it returns, but next year's funding is based on this year's students, so if new military families were not here last year, there is no new money for them yet this year. As MVWSD is now "basic aid", revenue does not increase with increasing student population.
BTW--Closing Slater is old news, and I believe the lease income is higher and funds current programming.

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Posted by Parent
a resident of Waverly Park
on Sep 29, 2010 at 2:15 pm

"The School Board closed Whisman School as well. Crowded schools with traffic congestion and students in portables...don't like it? Don't re-elect the School Board." It was the Whisman district board, to be precise, not the merged district board. Those people are long gone, as are most of the people who were on the school board when Slater was closed. So you can blame the current school board all you want, but that's kind of like blaming Obama for the war in Iraq. The Whisman district closed Whisman because that was when the Navy was pulling out of Moffett. A very large majority of the students at Whisman at that time were from Navy families, and when they left, there was not enough enrollment in the old Whisman District at that time to justify keeping 3 elementary schools open.

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Posted by MV Mom
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Sep 29, 2010 at 3:22 pm

I'd love to vote out the current school board, but there is no one running against them. Which is a shame, I'd love to see current MVWSD parents running.

And I do think the city council takes some blame, they are the ones pushing through large developments (Minton's site) without regard to the current state of schools. It's become the norm here to slap down portables and pretend they are a real building. I also blame the council for the two tax districts diverting funds from schools (Shoreline and downtown).

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