Boundary change's possible fallout
Demographer says high school district may need to rethink its own boundaries
With the decision for Los Altos School District boundary changes now final, the district's hired demographer, Jeanne Gobalet, said she thinks the Mountain View-Los Altos High School District might have to follow suit and make changes of its own.
It's an idea to which MVLA Superintendent Barry Groves remains noncommittal, saying there are no current plans to alter district boundaries for Mountain View and Los Altos high schools.
"I'm going to look at the [LASD] boundaries and see what they've done. I'll look at the numbers and see if anything needs to happen," he said, adding that "possibly nothing needs to happen."
In a 3-2 vote last week, the Los Altos School District board moved to accept Scenario 2.3, which makes changes to boundary lines for Bullis, Almond, Santa Rita, Covington and Springer elementary schools.
Gobalet reasons that as a result of those changes, the junior high schools in the Los Altos School District, Egan and Blach, may not feed into the high schools in a balanced way.
The Byzantine structure guiding the districts' "student streaming" is a complicated one at best, but Gobalet says it comes down to too many students going to Mountain View High School.
About one third of students in the Los Altos High School District go to Mountain View High School, and nearly all of the students in the Mountain View Whisman School District go to Mountain View High as well.
"Mountain View High School has more students, and they need to remedy that," Gobalet said.
Traditionally, Covington Elementary went to Los Altos High School. Now, being split between the two junior high schools, it will also be split between the high schools.
Adding to that, the MVLA district also regularly accepts intra-district transfers, and in recent years has seen a majority of students asking to be transferred to Mountain View. This year alone, the district had to deny 30 students a transfer to Mountain View, a first in the district's history. It accepted about 30.
"It seems to be the more popular school, for some reason," Gobalet said.
Gobalet admits the interplay between the districts, enrollment counts and boundary lines make for a complicated situation, and thinks the next best step is to ensure open communication at the high school and elementary level. Recently she e-mailed the high school district a map of Scenario 2.3, and said she will be available to answer their questions and provide advice.
"The two districts need to work together," Gobalet said. She still thinks there are ways to make the attendance area for Los Altos High School better, in order to ensure overcrowding doesn't occur at Mountain View High, and that Los Altos High gets a more even draw of students.
"I think there's potential for improvement," she said. She couldn't offer specifics, saying she would need information from MVLA on the geographic distribution of students to generate ideas.
Groves did say that if the high school was to make any boundary adjustments, protocol would have the district follow the same process as LASD went through.
"There would be significant time for public input," Groves said.
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