Families of military service members will be able to send their children to Monta Loma Elementary next year, despite a recent letter sent by the Mountain View Whisman School District stating that new boundaries would divert them to another school.
Last year, the school district revamped its school attendance boundaries to reduce overcrowding and create "neighborhood schools," which often meant ditching non-contiguous areas that went over major thoroughfares and cleaning up the patchwork of legacy school boundaries caused by school closures.
From the start, district officials and school board members agreed that no matter what, children of military personnel serving at Moffett Field ought to stick together, and that the de facto school for those families -- Monta Loma -- should always be open them. But due to some kind of confusion or oversight, some military families received notices in October stating that their children would have to attend Theuerkauf Elementary.
Glenn Bates, a parent and member of Monta Loma's school site council, alerted board members to the problem earlier this month. He said the military families attending Monta Loma were blindsided by letters about an impending move to Theuerkauf, and that the district was out of touch by failing to understand the effects of splitting up military families.
"Their understanding was that the military community was staying together at Monta Loma -- a site which we have specifically built to support them as part of our family," Bates said. "And now we're being fractured without really clear communication from the district."
The comments were met with confusion from members of the school board, who said they were under the impression that they gave clear direction to allow active military service members the opportunity to keep their children at Monta Loma. The district's leadership has long felt that the military community is best served together, and that the families -- who frequently face having to move -- feel more connected at Monta Loma while they're here in Mountain View.
District spokeswoman Shelly Hausman confirmed that eight military families in the district had received letters stating they were being assigned to Theuerkauf, which runs contrary to the district's goals. Subsequent letters clarifying their child's placement at Monta Loma will be sent to the affected families, she said.
The mix-up likely has to do with the split between service members residing at the base north of Highway 101 and at Shenandoah Square, a small carve-out of federal land at the corner of Middlefield Road and Moffett Boulevard. The old Monta Loma attendance boundary used to curl south along Moffett to include Shenandoah, but the school board approved boundary changes that rezoned the neighborhood for Theuerkauf.
Between the two locations, the district has roughly 125 students from military families, 88 of whom attend Monta Loma. The district provides busing service for the families at two stops -- one at Shenandoah and one at the base north of Highway 101 -- to transport children to Monta Loma and Crittenden Middle School. All eight families who received the erroneous letters live at Shenandoah, Hausman said.
While it may seem sensible to just leave Shenandoah within Monta Loma's attendance boundary, Shenandoah Square's 126 apartments aren't exclusive to military personnel. Lacking enough enlisted residents, the eligibility requirements were expanded to civilian federal employees, including NASA Ames employees. The guarantee to stay at Monta Loma does not extend to these non-military families, and their children are assigned to Theuerkauf.