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LASD proposes to "Pack and Ship" MV kids across the district

Original post made by Tanya Raschke on May 23, 2007

Los Altos School District will break ground in June on a $12M project to renovate Bullis-Purissima School in Los Altos Hills. In 2008, Bullis-Purissima will be reopened to provide a neighborhood school to the residents of Los Altos Hills. This is a critical step in healing the enormous rift created when the school was closed in 2003. It appears that this long delayed and much needed goodwill toward Los Altos Hills will come at at the expense of students from Mountain View. In the vast majority of the boundary line scenarios currently under consideration, neighborhoods North of El Camino Real (including the Crossings, 49 Showers/Old Mill, the Del Medio Corridor, and Ortega/Showers/California/El Camino) are specifically singled out and catapulted across the district - sending children from this compact geographic area to up to 5 different schools. Currently, the area North of El Camino is served by two schools, Santa Rita and Almond. Not surprisingly, these "Pack and Ship" scenarios minimimze disruption to the district residents who live in Los Altos. No other area of the distict is slated for similar treatment. The area North of El Camino has been targeted for widely varying and ever-changing reasons. First, we have been wholly blamed for the "explosive growth" of the district, even though the District's Demographers have shown in their report that the number of students from Los Altos is growing 1 1/2 times faster than the number of students from Mountain View. Our population of English Learners has been thoroughly investigated. Thankfully, it is clear that the existing programs at Santa Rita and Almond have been shown to be excellent, and "graduates" from the existing program go on to be excellent academic performers. Many of us live in smaller, "lower cost" housing. The area North of El Camino has a blend of single family homes, condominiums and apartment buildings. However, housing type can not be used as a basis for discriminatory practices on the part of a public school district. The fact that we live in a transit-friendlly location has obviously not resonated with the Board. All LASD kids deserve a neighborhood school! If redrawing lines cannot accomplish that task, then I feel it is high time for the district to adresss the needs of its students head-on and work to open a new K-6 elementary school in the Northern part of the district.

Comments (19)

Posted by Amanda Aaronson, a resident of The Crossings
on May 23, 2007 at 9:41 am

Thanks to Tanya for that post.

I know that in many of the other scenarios being considered, the Todd/Gilmore neighbourhood is also being asked to walk a bit further than they currently do, on to Springer school, about a mile walk for them. Doable, as we currently walk, or ride, the mile and a half to Santa Rita, but unpopular, and potentially unnecessary.

I think that a Northern school to address the students in the North is crucial to allow for minimal disruption of ALL residents of the district, and to allow for maximum proximity to school of attendance.

Anything else remains just a temporary solution.


Posted by eric, a resident of another community
on May 23, 2007 at 3:49 pm

And why dont you send your kids to the closest MV school?


Posted by Matt Raschke, a resident of The Crossings
on May 23, 2007 at 4:52 pm

The LASD boundary dates back to 1906. It does not follow municipal boundaries. Parts of Los Altos are actually in Cupertino's School District. Almost 30% of the student population in LASD comes from Mountain View. A small portion of Palo Alto also goes to LASD.


Posted by Amanda Aaronson, a resident of The Crossings
on May 23, 2007 at 8:10 pm

And in actuality, while I think the closest MV school would be fab, if I'm not mistaken, it is Castro school, now a magnet school with long wait lists to attend.

In the end, if we get an Interdistrict Transfer, we are at the mercy of the district to place us **wherever** there is space. It's not as simple as picking our closest MV school.


Posted by eric, a resident of another community
on May 24, 2007 at 10:37 pm

No, Castro isn't a magnet school, though it does have a few programs (spanish immersion for one) that may well have wait lists.

So, what's stopping you? Schools are the cornerstone of a community- come become paet of yours!


Posted by Matt Raschke, a resident of The Crossings
on May 24, 2007 at 10:39 pm

Here are some interesting graphs on the historical demographics of Santa Rita Elementary and LASD:

Web Link
Web Link
Web Link

Please take a look at these and discuss. I'm interested in hearing opinions on what is happening to Santa Rita and LASD. I got the data from the State website: Web Link


Posted by eric, a resident of another community
on May 24, 2007 at 10:41 pm

oops- didn't read your entire post. I do not think that MV campuses are so impacted that there is no choice for interdistrict xfers (possible exception of Theurakopf). I know many families with inter and intra-district transfer kids, and I've never heard of a problem


Posted by Matt Raschke, a resident of The Crossings
on May 24, 2007 at 10:48 pm

Eric,

I am paying a parcel tax of $597 per year to LASD. I also pay $800 per year to LAEF as a donation for my child. I expect equal treatment from LASD. I do not expect LASD ship my neighborhood to a school across town. I am part of LASD. It is my school community. What is your school community?


Posted by MV parent, a resident of Waverly Park
on May 25, 2007 at 11:48 am

Monta Loma school is quite close to the Crossings--just over Central Expressway. Not ideal if you wanted to walk or bike, but close, and it's a very good school. I do understand, though, how the MV residents of LASD feel--they will continue to pay the higher parcel tax amount for LASD, whether they enroll their kids in MVWSD or not. It's a very difficult situation all around--the LASD has no control over how Mountain View zones and develops its land; when all the local schools were built, the neighborhoods now being affected were commercial (shopping mall, in the case of the Crossings). Money and land to build new campuses is pretty much nonexistent for districts around here. I sympathize with all parties in this--district officials and residents; there is no easy answer.


Posted by eric, a resident of another community
on May 25, 2007 at 3:25 pm

Matt, I dont know how the tax structure works with MV residents in LA schools, but I suspect that you are providing less support then residents of Los Altos (and a contribution to the foundation isnt really relevant, but I do understand your point. I'd suspend further donation were I in your shoes). Really not my point, though-- I do think you're getting a raw deal from LA, and should therefore consider joining the MV community.


Posted by Matt Raschke, a resident of The Crossings
on May 25, 2007 at 4:14 pm

Eric,

I doubt I provide less support than the average Los Altos single-family home that is protected under Prop 13 tax law. LASD gets about 20% of my property tax. My property tax is based on the sales price of my home. My house was almost as expensive as a house some friends of mine bought in Los Altos in 2003. What is your school community? What is your take on Los Altos Hills? Should they have been allowed to form their own school district? Do they BELONG in LASD?


Posted by Matt Raschke, a resident of The Crossings
on May 26, 2007 at 4:57 pm

Eric,

The County is divided into tax rate areas determined by the varying boundaries of cities, schools, and special districts. So you might be surprised to learn that property tax from San Antonio Shopping Center (in MOUNTAIN VIEW) actually benefits LASD. The total annual property tax on the Wal-Mart parcel is on the order of $120,000 per year. So I have some really deep pocket neighbors on my side helping to "provide more support" for LASD. The TARGET store, however, is assessed at only $3.3M, and appears to be owned by someone in Los Altos. I would guess that it is only leased to TARGET, and therefore the tax assessment is limited by good old Prop 13 (as are a lot of the older homes in Los Altos).


Posted by MV parent, a resident of Waverly Park
on May 26, 2007 at 6:45 pm

Eric, if you're not familiar with the absolute weirdness of California education funding -- Matt is correct that the portion of the property taxes from all the homes and the businesses located within LASD boundaries benefit LASD, but they don't go straight to the school district. All the property tax revenue go to the state, which then doles it back out to the various entities. LASD gets its "revenue limit", and MVWSD gets its "revenue limit"--which is a specific dollar amount per kid (different for each district). If kids leave one revenue limit district and transfer to another, the first district loses that kid's revenue, and the second district gets revenue for one more kid. If the school's portion of the property tax revenues in a district exceed the amount that the state would pay back out in "revenue limit," then the state just gives the lump sum, not an amount per student. (This is termed "basic aid".) At that point, a district will usually not take transfer students, because they do not get any more money per student and it dilutes the pot for everyone. MV/LA High School District is basic aid, as is Palo Alto. They do not take inter-district transfers.

Matt would have to pay his LASD parcel tax of almost $600 no matter if his kids go to LASD, MVWSD, or private school.


Posted by mv parent, a resident of Waverly Park
on May 26, 2007 at 6:51 pm

Eric,

Just re-read your most recent post. The fact that some of the MV residents in LASD may not be providing as much tax revenue is totally irrelevant. This is public school, after all -- it is not supposed to offer preferential treatment to wealthy kids over less-wealthy ones. And I agree with Matt that many of the MV residents may well be paying much more in property taxes than old-time residents of Los Altos, or even Los Altos Hills. I know for certain that many of the residents of the Crossings paid a heck of a lot more for their townhomes that I paid for my house in Waverly Park 15 years ago; I'm sure they are paying more than some Los Altans with much bigger homes & lots, so this one should just be put to rest. THAT SAID -- The district still has a tough problem. I don't envy them, but I'm certain they will try their best to be fair, knowing that someone will be unhappy no matter what they decide.


Posted by Amanda, a resident of The Crossings
on May 27, 2007 at 8:00 pm

The other thing not to forget is that this is my child's experience. She's already established strong friendships within the schools, and they are our neighbours. Wherever we get transferred, at the very least she will be transferred with her nearest neighbourhood friends.

I'm certain that she'd make new friends within the scope of a new school without her neighbours, but at this point, if she CAN move with her nearest neighbourhood friends, she should be allowed to.

In the end, though, there is a much bigger principle at stake here. The fact that only one geographic area, in many of the scenarios, is asked to make this kind of move. If any other area is asked to move, it is from their first closest school to their second closest school (or in some cases FROM their second closest TO their first closest). It is only the Mountain View and Palo Alto residents within the district who are being circled on a map and sent across town.


Posted by eric, a resident of another community
on May 29, 2007 at 9:32 am

I am (unfortunately) quite familiar with the byzantine model for school funding in California, though I was not aware of the revenue sharing between MV and LA-- is some of that tied to the high school district as well?

I think that Amanda has the most compelling arguement (moving kids from existing relationships). Many others, I fear, have some sort of sense that they have "bought in". I'll ask again, why would you NOT send your kids to the excellent and more local MV schools?


Posted by Matt Raschke, a resident of The Crossings
on May 29, 2007 at 5:12 pm

Why should I go through the trouble EVERY year to apply for an intra-district transfer????? My neighbors and I will still have to pay the LASD $597 parcel tax that we supported. LASD is my school district, and it has been since 1906. I'll ask again, what school community are you from Eric?


Posted by eric, a resident of another community
on May 29, 2007 at 5:30 pm

My kids attend Mtn View public schools. I know a lot of people on intra-district x-fers, and they fill out about 1/2 page more paperwork then I do, and have never had even the slightest problem staying put.

Hey, if you're happy with the situation in Los Altos, great. You seem to be dodging my question-- why would you be opposed to going to the MV schools?


Posted by Matt Raschke, a resident of The Crossings
on May 29, 2007 at 7:54 pm

Eric,

I am not opposed to MV schools. It is not my school district. My son is currently in LASD, and his friends are there. My neighbors go there too. As you said earlier, I should discontinue my payment to LAEF. I'll probably use it instead to fund a lawsuit against LASD. I believe they are targeting the area North of El Camino for obvious and illegal reasons.


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