http://mv-voice.com/print/story/print/2007/06/22/district-makes-the-call-on-boundary-change


Mountain View Voice

News - June 22, 2007

District makes the call on boundary change

Board picks 'Scenario 2.3,' shifting 200 Mountain View students to new schools

by Alexa Tondreau

After considering nearly 50 different proposed scenarios for boundary changes in the Los Altos School District, board members Monday night reached a decision that will affect more than 200 Mountain View students.

In a 3-2 vote, the school board chose "Scenario 2.3" over two other scenarios on the table, "L.1" and "V.2."

Scenario 2.3 addresses the overcrowding in the district's northernmost schools, Almond and Santa Rita, in several ways. It moves 122 students living north of El Camino Real in the Crossings and Showers Drive neighborhoods out of Santa Rita Elementary School and into Covington Elementary, which is located south of El Camino Real.

It also shifts 22 students living in the Yerba Santa Triangle neighborhoods south of El Camino, currently attending Santa Rita, into Bullis Elementary School. And it takes about 60 Mountain View students living in the Hollingsworth and Gilmore neighborhood schools out of Almond and into Springer Elementary.

The changes would be effective beginning in the 2008-09 school year. Exactly which students will be taken from each school (referred to as the "grandfathering policy") will be debated next year.

Board members Bill Cooper and Mark Goines voted against 2.3, favoring other plans.

"It's done," Cooper said, immediately after the motion passed. The audience applauded the ending of an extended process which had gone on for nearly six months and concluded just after midnight.

Parents living in the Hollingsworth and Gilmore neighborhoods — dubbed 'H2G' during the process — have opposed the plan from the beginning, because it would require them to drive their children to Springer, when they can currently walk to Almond.

"I feel badly for the H2G group that will have to drive," said Goines. But he said there was no way to please every neighborhood during the process.

Board member David Luskin reasoned that "If we keep H2G at Almond, we go to a four-school solution north of El Camino." He said he opposed splitting the neighborhoods north of El Camino into four different schools, because it would be too many schools for one area.

Residents of the Hollingsworth and Gilmore neighborhoods vented their frustrations over a drawn-out process that was not going in their favor. One father from there said it appeared that "students are being arbitrarily sacrificed to make the numbers work."

Mark Friedman, a parent from the H2G area, said the board "veered from scenario to scenario, tweaking them all the time. I don't know if the latest set of scenarios is any better than the ones we started out with."

The district's hired demographer, Jeanne Gobalet, seemed to support that interpretation, saying at one point that the process had "invaded her nightmares." However, she also noted that in her experience, the process of redrawing boundary lines is always especially difficult in affluent communities like these.

"In communities where there are quite a large number of well-educated and successful people, you find they want to get involved in the process, they want to exhaust every option and use every tool they can," she said.

"People who are more successful get used to influencing their lives," she said.

While Gobalet was satisfied with the district's choice — "it will work," she said — she added there was no perfect solution for the community, based on the distribution of students and the locations of the school sites.

A common theme among speakers Monday night was the need to look into creating another school in the north of El Camino area. Several suggested converting the Egan Camp site, located at Egan Junior High School, into an elementary school.

Board member Margot Harrigan warned against that path because, she said, it would diminish the quality of the junior high school at Egan, and would create an unfair imbalance between the Egan and Blach in the district.

"Let's not get too far down the road," she said. "Let's work with what we have."

Harrigan also said there was no way the district could afford to buy enough land — about 16 acres — north of El Camino for a new elementary school, but board member Goines disagreed.

"It would cost about fifty million," he said, adding that the district would need a new parcel tax to generate the funds.

"We should rule it out only if we think the voters wouldn't support it," he said.

The board has agreed to allow a task force to be formed to study that issue. For now, the district is going ahead with a traffic study of Scenario 2.3, the results of which will be released in the fall.

The board did not line up a backup scenario, and members were confident that Scenario 2.3 will pass muster in the traffic study.

"We've put this community through enough," Cooper said. "It's going to work. It's obviously not perfect for everyone, but parents can know their kids will still be going to great schools."

BY THE NUMBERS:

Number of Mountain View students being transferred ...

from Santa Rita to Covington: 122

from Santa Rita to Bullis: 22

from Almond to Springer: 60

Total number of Mountain View students switching schools: 204

E-mail Alexa Tondreau at atondreau@mv-voice.com

Comments

Posted by Kathleen Branyon, a resident of another community
on Jun 22, 2007 at 11:30 pm

I was one of the speakers at the LASD School Board Meeting on Monday night. Ms. AlexaTondreau did not accurately report what I and several others said!! In my speech, I specifically said that a new school should be created for ALL THE STUDENTS IN THE NORTHERN PART OF THE DISTRICT (NOT only those students North of El Camino!!!)
—>"Several suggested converting the Egan Camp site, located at Egan Junior High School,
into an elementary school." >>The Egan Camp Site has already been serving as an elementary school since 2002, when it was occupied first by Almond School and then by Santa Rita (one year each) and, since 2004, by Bullis Charter School. The quality of the junior high school at Egan Middle School does not seem to be affected at all!! If Bullis were moved back to its' original campus, then the Camp Site could house a new elementary school that would serve all children in the northern part of the district.
Ms Tondreau also inaccurately reported which schools that would be losing students, and to/from which schools. I live at The Old Mill. Children living here have always been attending ALMOND ELEMENTARY, and beginning in 2008, all stgudents in the North of El Camino neighborhoods of The Crossings and The Old Mll will have to go to COVINGTON!!
PLEASE CHECK YOUR FACTS BEFORE YOU PUT AN ARTICLE ON THE FRONT PAGE!!!


Posted by Amanda, a resident of The Crossings
on Jun 23, 2007 at 8:30 am

A minor detail, but the 51 from Santa Rita going to Bullis are Los Altos kids, residing within a contiguous boundary, approximately equidistant between SR and Bullis Purissima - but having to cross Foothill, which they don't currently, and they are worried about not being able to walk because of that street crossing.

A crossing guard would go a long way there.

It is our hope that a school in the North would be for ALL children in the North, as Santa Rita and Almond are now, not just for NEC. If it were to be just for the NEC neighbourhoods, the school would be outside of it's own attendance area. However, Ms. Tondreau is only echoing what many of the board members also feel we are saying - that the school would be specifically for the NEC. We're still trying to get this idea ironed out with them.


Posted by registered user, Don Frances, a resident of Mountain View Voice Editor
on Jun 25, 2007 at 11:48 am

Ms. Branyon,

We always strive to be accurate in our reporting. In your comment you seem upset over errors in our story, but it's not clear to me what exactly is wrong here. I welcome your input on the following points:

* You said we mischaracterized your statement about a theoretical new school in the north, because it should be for "ALL THE STUDENTS IN THE NORTHERN PART OF THE DISTRICT (NOT only those students North of El Camino!!!)" We never said who this theoretical school would be for specifically. Our story states: "A common theme among speakers Monday night was the need to look into creating another school in the north of El Camino area." Is this inaccurate? Would a school south of El Camino but for NEC students be acceptable to you?

* Your commentary about Egan School seems more aimed at the LASD board than at us.

* You said we were wrong about which students go where, because "all stgudents in the North of El Camino neighborhoods of The Crossings and The Old Mll will have to go to COVINGTON!!" Here is the third paragraph of our story: "Scenario 2.3 ... moves 122 students living north of El Camino Real in the Crossings and Showers Drive neighborhoods out of Santa Rita Elementary School and into Covington Elementary." Note that we focused only on Mountain View students, not those living in Los Altos.


Posted by MV Resident, a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jul 13, 2007 at 7:26 am

I believe that the different was on the fact that not all NEC is moved from Santa Rita to Covington. Some were attending Almond and are being sent to Covington (rather than Springer where their Almond schoolmates from H2G are being shipped to).


Posted by Hyacinth, a resident of another community
on Aug 14, 2007 at 2:15 pm

I am looking to move my kids to this school but I am from Mountain View California st. IS this mean I can't get it to this school then? please advice.


Posted by Wavemama, a resident of Waverly Park
on Sep 7, 2007 at 10:13 am

I wish that the Waverley Park neighborhood children could attend Covington School which is within walking distance of most homes there. This would open up more slots at Huff Elementary for other Mountain View children.