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Guest opinion: Who's thinking about increased housing's impact on schools?

Original post made on Jul 11, 2014

I read the Voice's issue of July 4 regarding the Village at San Antonio Center development with interest. Agreed, Mountain View has a growing jobs-housing imbalance issue. But it also has a housing-schools imbalance that is equally, perhaps even more, urgent.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, July 11, 2014, 12:00 AM

Comments (54)

Posted by Space Well Needed
a resident of another community
on Jul 11, 2014 at 4:01 pm

Consider that Mountain View Whisman is already growing. Why should Mountain View choose to load its residential unit growth JUST INTO THE Mountain View Whisman District space? This is absurd. Already, there is a greater growth to the property value and hence the school tax revenue within LASD as compared to MVWSD. It's not just about space to house schools. It's also about tax revenue to educate the kids! LASD collected more ad valorem property taxes per student than does MVWSD. Increased construction in the San Antonio area is heightening that discrepancy. Case closed.

Posted by Bikes2work
a resident of The Crossings
on Jul 11, 2014 at 6:14 pm

Bikes2work is a registered user.


School districts have the power of eminent domain and the power to trump City General Plans and Zoning. This is the school districts' problem to solve. In the past, the district sold off "surplus" school sites. That was a poor decision in hind sight. Now they must either increase density, start a bus program, or buy more land. I'm surprised you don't know all this as a former City Council member. Los Altos Elementary School District is NOT owned by Los Altos. Perhaps it should be renamed as the Bullis School District to eliminate this common confusion.

Posted by Tricia
a resident of The Crossings
on Jul 11, 2014 at 7:01 pm

it's time for the lasd trustees to do the right thing
1. Rent office space for the district office
2. Build a new campus at the current do site
3. Move the charter school there
4. Build a school for the NEC at the current charter site.
5. Ask MVCC, LACC and LAHCC to help fund buses.

Posted by Knee Jerk...
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Jul 12, 2014 at 8:49 am

Did any of the three initial posters here even read the piece? (Portion removed; don't speculate about other posters' identities) Space Well Needed, nobody suggested that the growth should be limited to MVWSD areas, simply that if MV develops plans for housing growth *anywhere*, they have an obligation to work with the impacted school districts on a plan to ensure equitable education for all. The MV Council seems to think that they have zero accountability in this respect.

(Portion removed; see above) Bikes2Work, every time the potential use of ED is brought up to address this, people (portion removed) scream bloody murder about how it's not feasible in NEC. A little cooperation and collaboration with the MV Council could potentially find a solution here that wouldn't require Almond and Santa Rita to have to grow to 700 or 800 students each. What's wrong with the suggestion that MV officials work WITH the district to find an answer to the problem? And yes, it's a shame that some of the old school sites were sold off. But if the district were sitting on excess inventory of land, you guys would be squaking about fiscal irresponsibility.

And finally, @Tricia, LASD and BCS appear to have reached agreement on a 5 year deal that would make your suggestion impossible (at least within that time frame). Not to mention the notion of trying to squeeze almost 1500 students (BCS + Covington) into the current Covington + Rosita site and the impact that would have on that neighborhood. How about coming up with a feasible plan instead of whining about the LASD trustees not "doing the right thing".

I hope the MV Council will heed this call for cooperation and do their fair share to help find a long term solution to the problem that they are dominantly responsible for creating.

Posted by Philip Aaronson
a resident of The Crossings
on Jul 12, 2014 at 9:04 am

Just to be clear, Knee Jerk's assertion that I made the comment by Bikes2Work is completely false. And if you're going to incorrectly start claiming who posters are, do it under your own name.

Posted by Old MV Citizen
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jul 12, 2014 at 10:50 am

I agree with Frank and believe it is irresponsible of the City to ignore the impact of its decisions on the surrounding school districts, both MVWSD and LASD. There should be joint planning meetings to discuss the location of another school in the NEC area.

Posted by Pay Attention
a resident of another community
on Jul 12, 2014 at 12:45 pm

Here's the problem. Web Link If you want space for an elementary school, look at the office building land that Google has purchased along San Antonio. It's on the other side of the street from the shopping center, but they have plans for huge tall office buildings there. It's really something we don't need.

Posted by Space Well Needed
a resident of another community
on Jul 12, 2014 at 12:55 pm

Knee Jerk is uninformed. The Campaign for a Balanced Mountain View has urged a school site be found in the San Antonio area all along. They just use simpler arguments that don't involve placing blame on one city or another for development.

The viewpoint in the original article is offensive because it implies the school sites are not balanced between cities within LASD. That might be technically true, but it doesn't matter. It's all one school district and balancing between cities is not a goal. Oak Avenue School is right on the border as is Mountain View High School. Assigning them to one city or another is pretty arbitrary. There are many Mountain View Whisman kids who live much closer to Oak than they do to the closest MVWSD school open or closed.

The solution of using all the land at Egan is still open. Any deal made with the charter school is still open to change. But even if you don't change it, what could be done is to relocate the Egan Jr High to Covington Elementary. Frank Verlot doesn't mention it, but 25% of the students from the San Antonio area are assigned to Covington, 3 miles from their houses. How can he leave that fact out? Anyway, if Covington becomes the north Jr High, then a new elementary school could be made at the Egan site, and it could serve the San Antonio area. Right now 600 kids could attend, and if the Jr High schools become 6-8 grade like in MVWSD, that's room for quite a bit of growth in the San Antonio area of Mountain View. The thing is, even with projections of growth, that would drop both Almond and Santa Rita to under 400 kids each. The problem in LASD isn't lack of school land, it's uneven distribution.

Posted by 700-800
a resident of another community
on Jul 12, 2014 at 1:02 pm

Throwing around this number of 700-800 kids in a school in LASD is crazy. One of the trustees did this at a board meeting. LASD has 9 current school sites not counting Bullis charter. 6300-7200 kids is what is implied by an average size of 700 to 800 for each school. NONE of the projections for growth come close to 7000 kids. LASD is anal about trying to keep school size at under 550 students per school. Their average school size right now is under 500 students per school, and one is only 330. The growth does not make such a drastic change as 700-800 implies.

Posted by Knee Jerk
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Jul 12, 2014 at 1:09 pm

"Uninformed" how exactly @Space? Campaign for a Balanced Mountain View has nothing to do with the City Council, and is basically making the same recommendation as Mr. Verlot. You seem to be looking for reason to take offense @Space. The suggestion is not to balance schools between cities in LASD, but to balance the campus footprint with where current AND FUTURE students live.

What you advocate (grade reconfiguration, and a move of an entire Jr. High) would be massively disruptive and I don't believe has even remotely enough support to get done (and speaks to ulterior political motives). The simplest solution is to develop a new LASD campus in the NEC area to serve that growing population. Much simpler and less disruptive that what you are advocating.

Posted by Garrett
a resident of another community
on Jul 12, 2014 at 1:36 pm

I agree with all 3 need to sit down and plan for.a school.

Cooper, Whisman and Slater could reopened. If hard pressed Cuesta Annex could be turned into a school.

What happened in the past with selling sites has happened, time to think and design with the future.

The offices at S.A. Center could be all 3 district offices.

Posted by Space Well Needed
a resident of another community
on Jul 12, 2014 at 1:46 pm

The original article specifically accuses Lenny Siegel and the Campaign for a Balanced Mountain View of not considering the need for a school for the residential growth advocated. Simply not true.

People should keep in mind that the land around here has values of $5 Million to $10 Million per acre. Using eminent domain to take land is very expensive. LASD can't afford this. If that's a political agenda, it's a responsible one. Before the district spends more money remodeling schools, it needs a comprehensive plan for the future. Matching school sites to population is a major goal. What is needed in the north end of the district is more elementary capacity. It makes more sense for the Jr High to be located more centrally in its attendance area. It's not disruptive to realize these 2 things and solve the problem while saving money. It was someone's plan 40 years ago to turn Covington Jr High into an elementary school and they bet wrong. The population growth isn't occurring anywhere around there. They converted the wrong Jr High, but luckily there are still very old buildings at both sites. They can be torn down and reconstructed to make modern schools at this point. The one good building at Egan (and the City Gym) can stay where they are.

Posted by Space Well Needed
a resident of another community
on Jul 12, 2014 at 1:49 pm

It's interesting if you look at it, that the one new building at Egan has properties that lend it to being reconfigurable according to the stated goals for classrooms in the elementary schools in the district. With a little work, that building could form the core of a new elementary school.

Posted by MVLA for all
a resident of another community
on Jul 12, 2014 at 5:15 pm

One way to solve this problem is combine all three of our local school districts, similar to Palo Alto. It reduces cost and makes better use of space. Waverly park kids can go to Oak. MV kids can go to Bullis Charter. LASD kids would be able to apply to MV magnet schools. LASD and MV Whisman teachers could get paid more.

Posted by BCSParent
a resident of another community
on Jul 12, 2014 at 8:23 pm

We are paying $5,000/year to keep our child away from certain segments of the population. Merging the districts would wreck that. Please leave well enough alone!

Posted by MVLA for all
a resident of another community
on Jul 12, 2014 at 9:09 pm

@ BCS Parent -
Please stop impersonating BCS parents, and if you have posted here under some other name I hope that MV Voice will enforce it's policy and remove your comment for double posting.

Posted by What Impact?
a resident of The Crossings
on Jul 12, 2014 at 9:43 pm

What impact? The revenues generated from the building fees and increased property tax revenue from new development more than offset the projected costs of additional children. The school districts waste tons of money. Both MVSD and LASD closed schools after voters passed school bond measures. The school districts love the extra revenue, bit don't want to spend it on providing for additional students.

City councils are not responsible for providing education to students, though both councils use city finds to support school activities. School district officials are disingenuous when they cry foul and claim there is no money.

The only real issue is the overlap of LASD with two towns. This could be solved by separating the MV residents and putting them in MVSD.

Posted by Knee Jerk
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Jul 13, 2014 at 8:15 am

@What Impact? Seriously? First, you make a statement of alleged fact about increased tax revenue from development more than offsetting the cost of educating the additional students, but offer not one shred of evidence to support that conclusion. Are we supposed to just take your word for it? Secondly, the primary "impact" is on school sites. We need to either find a new campus for NEC, or see significant increases in student population at Almond, Santa Rita, and Covington -- not to mention the continued need for NEC students to travel further to their assigned school. All the article suggests is that the MV Council work with LASD leadership to solve this problem. It's beyond me why people like you get up in arms about that.

Finally, there have been numerous comments here and on other forums recently about re-drawing (60+ year old) district boundaries so they are strictly along city lines -- that way, no pesky Mountain View or Palo Alto students would be able to mingle with the Los Altos elites. Maybe those comments are only coming from one or two people, but they speak to a profound selfishness and arrogance by whoever is posting them. Look in the mirror. Not a pretty sight is it?

Posted by Karen
a resident of Gemello
on Jul 13, 2014 at 8:34 am

I agree with MVLA for all let's combine all into one k-12 district and cut down on the number of petty politicians running the show. In fact let's put the MVLA guys in charge.

Posted by I'm not an economist
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jul 13, 2014 at 8:55 am

I'm not an economist but it seems like What Impact is suggesting is that market values for housing capitalize the value of the school system, (along with other location values) into the sales price of new units. Otherwise, the developer is leaving money on the table. Buyers will bid up the price of the home to reflect the value they place on the school system, hence they internalize the additional property tax revenues that pay for the projected students.

Posted by Traffic
a resident of another community
on Jul 13, 2014 at 10:14 am

What about the traffic? Everyone who suggests increasing the capacity of the Egan site or the Covington site or any other school site located in Los Altos is missing the point: the high density growth in MV is causing traffic gridlock around schools in north Los Altos. Over 600 students from the NEC area of Mountain View are driven to and from school to Los Altos each day. Neighbors of Egan, BCS and Santa Rita (and probably Covington) are fed up! Please locate a new school where the children are -- where there is a need -- in the NEC neighborhood of MV. If MV can find the space for all of this new development, they must also work to find a location for a school. Smart growth and environmentally responsible growth requires this kind of planning.

Posted by MVLA for all
a resident of another community
on Jul 13, 2014 at 10:27 am

I think that time to consolidate has come. With all three districts in Basic Aide Status it makes so much sense. Here is the Conclusion to a 2012 report by the Silicon Valley Community Foundation:
Web Link
When school districts began forming in the fledging state of California more than a century ago, the pattern of organization was both practical and logical. Widely scattered rural communities needed elementary schools close to home to teach their children reading, writing and arithmetic. As young people began going to high school, individual districts often found they had too few students and resources to support more advanced academic programs. Separate districts, covering the territories of two or more elementary districts, were established for secondary education.

Over the years, however, as California’s population exploded and rural communities grew into cities and sprawling suburbs, a jigsaw puzzle of overlapping districts evolved haphazardly. School district boundaries often had no relationship to city lines and the elementary and high school districts within the same communities operated independently of one another. This highly decentralized approach to education persists despite the efforts of state legislators to encourage a more coordinated system.

Since 1920, the state has been pushing elementary districts to unify with the high school districts that serve their
communities. The periodic drives to reorganize schools slowly reduced the number of California school districts from about 3,500 in the 1930s to nearly 1,000 in 2011. Of those, only a third are unified.

In San Mateo and Santa Clara counties, local voters have resisted change time and again. Loyalty to community schools and a reluctance to raise taxes have trumped arguments about the fiscal efficiency and academic effectiveness of unified districts time and again. In only a handful of cases—where the elementary and high school districts share a common community identity—have unification elections succeeded. School boards remain wary of the concept too, even when facing devastating budget cuts. When the Santa Clara County Civil Grand Jury recommended reorganization of 21 districts in 2010, each district submitted a formal reply disputing the jury’s findings of lower and administrative costs and better education.

History offers clear lessons. Any efforts to change school district organization in Silicon Valley face serious obstacles. However, Larry Gerston, a professor of political science at San José State University argues that “one way or another, consolidation will come”. In a recent San José Mercury News article Gerston notes that at a time of diminishing resources communities haverecognized the need for shared services and pooling of resources in a variety of programs, including police, fire and public works. And some leaders believe it is time for public education to do the same.

Posted by MVLA for all
a resident of another community
on Jul 13, 2014 at 10:35 am

@ Traffic

One way to solve the traffic problem is to use school buses. It might be something that the cities could help fund. One school bus could take 60 or more cars off the roads in front of the schools. Most schools in both Mountain View and Los Altos have the majority of students arriving by car. It really seems like a no brainer to me.

Posted by Garrett
a resident of another community
on Jul 13, 2014 at 12:46 pm

Why not obtain the services of a architect to design some schools of various sizes in square footage and numbers of students. Land is expensive so plan on using existing school sites or parts of parks. School sizes need to both flexible but numbers can change with shifts in birth trends, population or just people relocating. Studium design has changed, office buildings have changed, shopping malls have.changed, even cruise ships, then how about 40 year old schools.

Posted by More Info
a resident of another community
on Jul 13, 2014 at 5:38 pm

@Garrett-- There is no problem with land space if you are reasonable. They have set an arbitrary target of no more than 550 students at any school, including the Jr High schools. The Jr High in the area (Egan) is at 520 students with 20 acres. The same year, Graham Middle School on Castro Stret was at 790 students. Graham has a city park next to it, and it also has the district service yard where the buses come from and the food is prepared, etc. They are all hot and bothered that MAYBE they might get to this level of 'crowding.' Egan only has 7th and 8th grade and if they made it also have 6th grade it would indeed get up to 750 kids. Then all the elementary schools would drop by 1/7th in the number of kids. Makes lots more room.

Posted by More Info
a resident of another community
on Jul 13, 2014 at 8:05 pm

Left off the size of Graham. Including the city park and the service yard, it's 16 acres. It has the city Gym next to it, on 3 acres of city land set way back from Miramonte. Egan Jr High has a lot more room than does Graham.

Posted by More Info
a resident of another community
on Jul 13, 2014 at 8:07 pm

You know, it's interesting. The Jr High kids in LASD have more space than do the high school students in MVLA. The high schools approach 2000 kids on 40 acres. LASD has 2 19-20 acre campuses each populated by about 550 students at present. So, somehow, LASD feels that it's 7th and 8th graders need more outdoor space than do high school students. Also, the 2 Jr High schools each have over 60,000 square feet of indoor building space, which is really quite a lot for just 550 students each. At present they are talking about adding more buildings for the use of the same amount of students.

Posted by MVLA for all
a resident of another community
on Jul 13, 2014 at 9:23 pm

How can 550 students use all 20 acres at the same time? They can't. It just doesn't make any sense and that's the problem. The current LASD board wants Mountain View, Los Altos and Los Altos Hills to solve it's problems. The LASD board claims that they don't have any room for a growing student population, therefor Mountain View needs to provide space.

Combining all three districts will solve the room problems, by getting rid of a traditionally poor governing body, the Los Altos School District Board of Trustees, who have through the years caused more problems than any other governing board. They closed schools sold them off opened schools where they were not needed and created a war in the community.

Posted by MVLA for all
a resident of another community
on Jul 13, 2014 at 9:29 pm

There would be absolutely no problems with LASD if we simply gave our beloved charter school the unified campus they need. LASD trustees should be fired.

Posted by Traffic
a resident of another community
on Jul 14, 2014 at 7:29 am

@ MVLA I think buses would help solve the traffic congestion, and your idea to put the charter at one campus is a good one,

Posted by Traffic
a resident of another community
on Jul 14, 2014 at 7:29 am

@ MVLA I think buses would help solve the traffic congestion, and your idea to put the charter at one campus is a good one,

Posted by Knee Jerk
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Jul 14, 2014 at 7:36 am

@More Info and @MVLA For All -- Good luck getting that ludicrous, radical agenda past the voters. LASD has long been one of the top performing districts in the state. There have clearly been some mis-steps by the BoT over the years, but on balance I think the majority of voters are pleased with the results and with the value we are getting from our tax dollars. MVWSD is has also showed substantial improvement over the years and is justifiably proud of their own success. I hear no broad support from MVWSD for consolidation either.

The only people who want consolidation, are either a small faction of bitterly anti-LASD fanatics who can't get past the BCS conflict, or they are small, selfish people who begrudge paying nominal local taxes to sustain the outstanding schools we have today. Get real. Consolidation will NEVER happen in your lifetime. Instead of tilting at windmills, why not actually try to come up with realistic, constructive reform ideas that could actually be implemented. Repeated, idiotic calls for elected officials to step down help nobody.

Posted by Sparty
a resident of another community
on Jul 14, 2014 at 9:06 am

Sparty is a registered user.

Seems there is enough of a buffer zone in LASD scores to allow for some "affordable" housing to adjust the scores. . As another commenter pointed out...the high median income in Mt View means you need to base "affordable" on $90K+

Posted by MVLA for all
a resident of another community
on Jul 14, 2014 at 11:11 am

@ Knee Jerk -
I am sure that the students of our community would still do just as well under a k-12 district. Palo Alto is quite successful. I am sure many voters might be interested in consolidation, as it creates a better and more cost effective system for all of the students in our area.

@ the person who impersonated me in the post about the charter school. Please find a different name to post under.

Posted by Knee Jerk
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Jul 14, 2014 at 11:41 am

@MVLA for All -- then why not put your money where your mouth is and try to get enough signatures to get that on the ballot? I think you'd be surprised by the number of doors that get slammed in your face. Despite some of the legitimate issues that need to be addressed with our local schools, I think the vast, vast majority of voters are still pretty pleased overall. You're advocating the equivalent of open heart surgery, when a little "diet and exercise" would do the trick...

Posted by Karen
a resident of Gemello
on Jul 14, 2014 at 11:59 am

@ knee jerk
Why don't you like the idea of one k - 12? iit seems like a great idea that should have been enacted years ago. i can see how a few on the lasd side of the line might not like it but we just don't need so many duplicated services. With a larger k-12 district will all have better schools. Oh I guess you could be a trustee that might be out of a job. if you read the SVCC report it says that all the boards came up with reasons why it shouldn't be done - most of them were not valid.

Posted by Karen
a resident of Gemello
on Jul 14, 2014 at 12:06 pm

Correction - I should have written SVCF, Silicon Valley Community Organization.

Posted by Knee Jerk
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Jul 14, 2014 at 3:25 pm

@Karen -- show me one mega-district that consistently has the kind of outcomes that LASD has. Increased size and scale beyond a certain point in school districts seems to have a negative correlation to results. Sure, you save a few bucks by reducing some duplicate overhead, but you run the risk of ruining a top performing district. Not to mention the dilution of local democratic control by spreading out the base. Again, I don't hear MVWSD clamoring for this either -- just a few cheapskates who don't like paying their parcel taxes.

I'm all for continued marginal improvements in the curriculum (like 8th grade geometry), testing new innovations like Khan Academy, securing a new site for NEC students, starting bus service in certain areas, etc. But when you have one of the top performing districts in the state in LASD, and a rapidly improving district (strong API increases each of the last 7 years) in MVWSD, there is zero need to radically re-structure the model.

That's all just my opinion though. If you think it's such a "great idea" then go try to convince the voters. I doubt you'll have much success...

Posted by Dylan Carlson
a resident of Whisman Station
on Jul 14, 2014 at 3:55 pm

As someone who grew up in a town with a K-12, I can tell you it was a mixed bag. You have school administrators who have to manage young adults and young children. In my experience, school administrators don't do both well. In my case, we had a school principal & staff who were pretty rough & punitive with the kids in 1st-6th. He couldn't switch off from how he had to manage teenagers. I remember 2nd grade, A student, but being dragged out of my seat forcefully in front of the class, spanked, and tossed into the hall to write a 1000 lines on the floor because I stepped on a girl's hair by accident during recess. That kind of thing happened all the time. Corporal punishment is a bygone era but it doesn't mean the punitive mindset with children is gone.

Anyway... it's anecdotal but I do think there are good reasons to keep them separated.

Posted by Merger Numbers
a resident of Cuernavaca
on Jul 14, 2014 at 4:29 pm

The notion that a merged district would provide a sizeable financial savings is a hypotheses floated by folks who may have a vague recollection of freshman econ or accounting, but who have not done any in-depth analysis of the local situations. This includes recent groups (some with agendas) who've written papers suggesting merger as a panacea. The mere fact that the one size fits all suggestion is made as a generalization in an area as large and diverse as Santa Clara County should be a tip off about the quality of the analysis.

First, let's look at the savings. A merged district would have the same number of students, the same number of teachers, and likely the same number of school sites (ie principals). There would be a handful of positions eliminated at the district office...a merged district would only need one superintendent and one CFO. However, there might be new "asst" positions added, and a superintendent of a larger district would command a higher salary. There also might be some savings in volume purchasing discounts. So, overall, a small savings in district office costs.

Let's look at all the other salaries. Salaries and benefits make up roughly 85% of a public school district's budget. Someone can look it up, but the salary schedules of our local districts are not the same. A merged district would presumably pay at the higher level (is lower even legal?). If the difference in pay scales in $20K, multiply that by hundreds of teachers. That's not one time. That's an annual increase in perpetuity. I'd presume that there's also a difference, although likely smaller, in salaries of classified staff.

Let's look at bonds and parcel taxes. Do we think Mountain View would pass the same level of parcel tax as Los Altos? Unlikely. Again, someone can look it up, but isn't the current MV parcel tax about $150; while the current LASD parcel tax is nearly $1,000? The LASD parcel tax makes up a substantial part of their budget. And what about the taxes and bonds that already exist? Do they get unraveled? Do they need to be re-authorized? Would the $ be spent for the overall merged district, or does it need to remain local to the area where it originates? Bring on the lawyers.

Let's look at the non-financial issue of local control. I see a community that is trending to wanting to be more involved and have more control. That works better with smaller districts, where it's easier to get closer to the decision makers. Also, smaller, more local districts can tailor programs and get to know the specific needs of their students. Yes, even though we live in a small community, there are significant differences in demographics, English language ability, free-lunch qualification, etc, just within our 5-10 mile area.

This is just a ten minute, high level look at some of the complexities with a merger. This doesn't get at MANY of the other nuances, but even in it's short form, this is probably a deeper consideration than has been done by other groups.

Are there places where mergers would make sense? Sure. But Mountain View - Los Altos - Los Altos Hills at the current time is not one of them.

Posted by Dylan Carlson
a resident of Whisman Station
on Jul 14, 2014 at 5:02 pm

Wow, I just realized I totally misread this thread. How embarrassing. Sorry. </backs away slowly>

Posted by Karen
a resident of Gemello
on Jul 14, 2014 at 6:40 pm

Could the real motivation of the anti merger folks be more about keeping mv out of Los Altos? I live on the border on the MVW side and ther is deffinately an unfriendly neighborhood distingution. Sad but true. Have heard stories about wanting to keep mv out of Los Altos schools.

Posted by Knee Jerk
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Jul 14, 2014 at 7:02 pm

@Karen -- I live in MV, but within LASD boundaries and have never felt a moment of what you describe. I've only seen a few hard core Los Altos elitists posting here and on the Town Crier. Definitely outliers.

Posted by MVLA for all
a resident of another community
on Jul 14, 2014 at 7:09 pm

Merger Numbers has given us the entire California School Boards Association white paper. I am sure many school board members enjoy their jobs as minor elected officials. What fun. But its fun at the expense of our local kids. There are better ways to be involved and have local control than having three entire school districts serving one community. School site councils, magnet schools, PACT schools, PTA and foundations are some of the many ways parents can have more involvement in their child's education.

Any way here is the Introduction letter to the SVCF report. It addresses most of Merger Numbers Talking Points.

May 2012
There are many stories about how our region's school district system developed. It appears that there was little thought about what system would best serve our kids because, at the time, education was not valued in an 19th
century agrarian economy as it is in a 21st century global technology economy.

Here are the facts on current student performance: Large and pervasive gaps in achievement and education
opportunity continue to exist between low-income students and students of color, and their more advantaged peers. Moreover, less than half of all Silicon Valley’s high school graduates have taken courses that meet college entrance requirements, making this a much larger issue than the traditional framing that improving student performance is a discussion about poor kids or kids of color. If we were succeeding with our kids, perhaps we could tolerate an
inefficient system. The fact is we are not coming close to succeeding and therefore we need a system designed to support quality education for all of our kids.

Over the years, with surprising degrees of success, various groups with vastly different viewpoints, ranging from the California Taxpayers Association and Chamber of Commerce to the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, have agreed that we have too many school districts and have advanced efforts at consolidation.
This report is not premised on the false argument that reducing the number of school districts alone will magically improve dismal school performance. It is also not an argument for a single, massive district.

What seems clear is that our current system makes district accountability virtually impossible and systemic
innovation too hard. In the current system, there are close to 300 independently elected school district board
members who make decisions in San Mateo and Santa Clara counties. Moreover, recent state legislation to push more decisions to the local level means that school board members will need to have an even greater understanding of educational issues to be successful.

It is also clear that at a time when every dollar counts, we should actively look for ways to avoid duplication of
services and personnel.

Finally, this is not an argument about local control. School boards will still be elected by the public and parents will drive the system of education. However, we can no longer afford to have high school and elementary school
districts serving the same kids which operate independently and human resources and procurement operations for each and every district. Hopefully, this report will help shape a dialogue that puts what's best for our children ahead of any other consideration.

Emmett D. Carson, Ph.D.
CEO and President

Posted by More and more students study at home
a resident of Monta Loma
on Jul 15, 2014 at 11:39 am

With the advent of the internet, more and more kids can get their education from instructional online courses. Our schools are failing big time therefore the sooner we all become internet learning oriented, the lesser the school problems.

Posted by MLMV
a resident of Monta Loma
on Jul 15, 2014 at 2:35 pm

Merging the districts is an interesting idea. My kids live in Monta Loma and go to MV elementary/middle schools but then are zoned for Los Altos High. Some kids in our neighborhood go to Bullis, too. It seems like MV and LA are already overlapping enough that a merger should be considered.

Frankly, I think more than a few of the Los Altos parents and kids would benefit from a less insular and privileged educational experience, and some MV schools would benefit from higher performance expectations and more resources. In addition, I know Los Altos parents who would prefer to send their kids to a MV choice program like PACT, which is not currently an option for them. My unscientific take is that the strengths and weaknesses of these school systems might complement each other in a merged district.

Posted by Janet Lafleur
a resident of Rex Manor
on Jul 15, 2014 at 3:48 pm

Janet Lafleur is a registered user.

Re: Merging Districts

I've lived here long enough to remember the Mtn View and Whisman school districts' merger. At the time of the merger there were three neighborhood schools in Whisman school district: Theuerkauf, Slater and Whisman. When it came time to close schools they two of the three from Whisman district.

Now, that whole corner of Mountain View on the bay side of Central and south of Moffett Blvd has no walkable neighborhood schools. Kids from those neighborhoods have to be driven elsewhere. We could have guessed it, the same thing happened to the high schools in the 80s where neither is on the bay side of El Camino.

I want to see neighborhood schools everywhere, including San Antonio area, so that kids can actually walk or bike there and get their bodies moving before they have to sit all day at a desk. And I want families to live close enough to play in their kid's local school's playgrounds after school and on the weekend.

Given the history of favoring schools near the wealthier parts of the district, I have serious reservations that that will happen in a merged district.

Posted by Facts for Janet
a resident of another community
on Jul 15, 2014 at 9:30 pm

I can see how you feel, but there are facts which mitigate your observations about the previous merger of Whisman with Mountain View. What motivated that merger? Well, the Whisman School district operated historically with a lot of students from Moffet Field. These kids were subsidized by the Federal Government which enabled the creation of schools for them. When the military families were relocated, there was not enough demand to operate these schools. Other things changed too. The particular area you mention is a natural boundary for attendance at 2 schools, Slater and Whisman. But the area is only 1.3 square miles The total city of MV is 12.3 square miles. The tiny area of LASD north of El Camino is .3 square miles by itself (home to 600 kids). That outside of MVWSD. Figure about 1.5 square miles for the other area of MV within LASD. That means 10.5 square miles to assign to however many schools. For economy it works out to about 6.

This means that you have one school for every 1.7 square miles. So you need to assign some other 0.4 square mile to combine with the kids in the former Whisman and Slater areas COMBINED. Clearly closing one of the schools is stll currently justified. You can make a case to reopen one school, but look at the revenue the district gets from leasing out those 2 school sites (it does use part of Slater). That revenue is a powerful incentive, and what other school would you close if you opened one in the aforementioned area? It's not an easy decision. It was much harder back 3-4 years ago when the enrollment overall was smaller than it is today.

Posted by incognito
a resident of Waverly Park
on Jul 16, 2014 at 1:53 am

Despite the many advantages of consolidation, you'll see pigs fly before MVWSD, LASD and MVLA merge.

Posted by Bikes2work
a resident of The Crossings
on Jul 16, 2014 at 11:57 am

Bikes2work is a registered user.

Here are the Santa Clara County Civil Grand Jury recommendations for school district consolidation from 2010.

Web Link

Posted by scholl-districts property-prices property-taxes
a resident of another community
on Jul 16, 2014 at 6:22 pm

Property prices are directly tied to school districts.

Home owners have paid huge premium for their properties
on the premise that these properties are located in "better"
school districts.

Is it fair to ask everyone to support merging school districts
that are not on par (real or just a perception issue)?
Property taxes are based on property value assessment --
this assesment is tied to how much one paid for their property.

Will MV residents share some of the property taxes
that LA residents are paying? So, you see -- this merging business
is not as simple as it appears :-)

Posted by Garrett
a resident of another community
on Jul 17, 2014 at 2:39 pm

MVWSD could hand more students with excellent school design and site management, more kids on each site.

MV did purchase old school sites, can small schools be built on small sites. K to 2.

I agree NEC needs a school, could few K to 2 be built, existing schools become 3 to 5 (6).

A small K to 2 can be built into a park somewhere inside the LASD enrollment area, the little ones won't even come near El Camino. School bus for the others.

Some 3 to 5 (6) can be 2 stories, with a below ground facilities.

Not everyone coming here, moving in and around here will have children.

Posted by Messed up Facts
a resident of another community
on Jul 21, 2014 at 4:52 pm

Right around the San Antonio Road area north of El Camino is a portion of the LASD school district. It has nothing to do with MVWSD. It even covers a chunk of Palo Alto too. Nothing MVWSD can do can help LASD.

I really dislike this blaming of Mountain View for growth in LASD. It's not supported by the facts. The district really hasn't been growing that fast, but has rather been on a consistent trend up since 1985! Between 1966 and 1985 it was on a much steeper trend down, for a point much higher than where we are now or where we are projected to be within the next 5 years.

If you look at the overall growth in LASD over the last 12 years, it's about 1000 students. But only 25% of that growth comes from Mountain View. In total, Mountain View students now make up about 25% of the overall population. This means they have just been growing at the same rate as the rest of LASD. In fact, it's about the same rate of growth seen in MVWSD.

a resident of another community
on Jul 25, 2014 at 2:37 pm

RE: The writer who says that all we need to do is give the "BELOVED CHARTER SCHOOL" (MVLA FOR ALL- July 13)
"The Unified campus they need" must at the very least be smoking a substance not yet legal in California.


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