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Can Mountain View afford a new school?

Original post made on Mar 27, 2015

Members of the Mountain View Whisman's Boundary Advisory Task Force are poised to decide whether it's the right time to open a school in the Whisman and Slater neighborhood area. But concerns over under-enrollment and millions of dollars in additional costs are still top issues that could sink the idea entirely.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, March 27, 2015, 9:59 AM

Comments (44)

6 people like this
Posted by ML Mom
a resident of Monta Loma
on Mar 27, 2015 at 12:41 pm

"What's more, Monta Loma would see a sharp increase in English-language learners and socioeconomically disadvantaged students, which task force members worried could deter even more students from attending and forcing a school closure. "

Could someone explain how opening a ninth school at Whisman would mean that ML had more low-SES students? I was under the impression that the area around Whisman was not so well off, economically so I'm not understanding how losing those kids would affect ML.


3 people like this
Posted by PACT parent
a resident of Rex Manor
on Mar 27, 2015 at 1:58 pm

ML Mom of Monta Loma

""What's more, Monta Loma would see a sharp increase in English-language learners and socioeconomically disadvantaged""

"Could someone explain how opening a ninth school at Whisman would mean that ML had more low-SES students?"

At first, that confused me as well, but thinking about what I heard at various BATF and board meetings, I think it may be a matter of wording.

Perhaps it should have read something like the "percentage" of ELL and SED goes up in the ML school if Whisman gets a new school.

There is a great deal of back and forth and loads of discussions of statistics and effects to various schools of various things, so it's difficult to really follow every point accurately...

So, I could be wrong here, but I do think it's about percentages not raw numbers. The change to the long-standing boundaries required by a new Whisman school would, as I understood it, shift lots of kids around and the ripple-effect of those changes is what they were talking about.

Again, "I could be wrong now, but I don't think so."


7 people like this
Posted by MV
a resident of Shoreline West
on Mar 27, 2015 at 2:33 pm

Yes is a simple answer.


20 people like this
Posted by Give Them a Break
a resident of Rex Manor
on Mar 27, 2015 at 3:47 pm

The board should relieve the boundary task force from the expectation that the task force figures out how and when to open a Slater/Whisman school. The currently available data is inadequate to be sure the choice is right. The last thing we need is the committee rushing to recommend opening a school in response to the political pressure only to find the decision leaves the district in shambles five years down the road. Personally I would feel terrible as a committee member, as a board member and as a superintendent (even if I was only the interim superintendent). Give this poor committee a break.


28 people like this
Posted by Mom of MV Kids
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Mar 27, 2015 at 3:57 pm

I think if the three board members stepped out of their political positions for a moment they might agree that opening a new school has a high probability of harming the existing schools. They may even agree to focus the school district's precious resources on the existing schools, making them as good and desired as the Los Altos and Palo Alto schools. Alas, that won't happen.

Every kid deserves a neighborhood school, I agree this is a priority. But if I had to rank the things kids deserve, I would put at a higher priority: every kid deserves a great school.


10 people like this
Posted by Old Steve
a resident of Rex Manor
on Mar 27, 2015 at 4:33 pm

@Hey Mom (of MV Kids)

So in Los Altos you would get to watch money being spent on the Bullis Charter business. In Palo Alto you could read all about student stress. Test scores as a way to recognize a "desired" school only address the home background of the students, not how well the school does it's job. Besides, even with all our local funding we are still nowhere near those districts per student. When Slater was closed, the priority of the parents with kids in the neighborhood was a "good" school, not the neighborhood school. They did not consider Slater "as good" as other schools to which they had access at the time.


19 people like this
Posted by Ellie
a resident of another community
on Mar 27, 2015 at 4:42 pm

Just looking at the current map and thinking about my own block makes me question what a "neighborhood school" really means.

On my street there are 8 elementary age children. Two go to the school closest to grandma's house because she watches them after class. Two go to their former elementary school so they didn't have to make new friends mid-way through elementary. Two go to a parent participation school. One goes to private school. And ONE goes to the assigned local school.

I think MV Mom is correct that every kid deserves a great school, but I believe a "neighborhood school" is a relic of the past.


12 people like this
Posted by Stop the Trolls
a resident of Cuernavaca
on Mar 27, 2015 at 5:09 pm

Ellie -- "I think MV Mom is correct that every kid deserves a great school, but I believe a "neighborhood school" is a relic of the past."

For a number of people, that may well be the case. For many others, though, having a neighborhood school isn't a want -- it's a need, for any number of reasons. So while the trend may be away from the neighborhood school, it's not universal (yet).


7 people like this
Posted by Steven Nelson
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Mar 27, 2015 at 6:29 pm

@ML Mom and PACT Parent, thanks. Less drama, more, 'this IS a really hard problem.' It is no more an easy political problem than the City and it's housing problem. The Superintendent's office set up these committees, not the Board. I'm wary, but would not yet want to "pull the plug.'' (The Board majority directs the Sup. to close these committees) (we could hire consultants to do it for us)
City analogy, hard problem: Ronet Bryant, anti-growth? Did you see her vote on high density (urban) El Camino Corners/ or listen to her comments? I think candidate Matichak wanted more housing built in her Whisman/Slater area (just make it owner-occupied and varied, not 'out at Shoreline'.)
Politics is the way a democratic community decides how to allocate resources fairly and efficiently. I think my cohorts on this Board represent much of the diversity of this community (even if we don't exactly match the demographic).
elected politician SN is a member of the MVWSD Board


11 people like this
Posted by New Parent
a resident of Rex Manor
on Mar 27, 2015 at 6:58 pm

What if we focus on improving schools instead of building more school?

Program that can improve kids’ performance should get more resources.
A good school will attract families with kids moving into the area, there will be no attendance issue. Also, there will be no tax revenue issue when local businesses are supported by more people who can afford moving into the city.

Distance to school is not the top priority to parents who care about their kids’ education. If I am allowed to send my kids to good schools, I would fight traffic every day because I care the kids’ education.

I am pretty naïve, and I only know that school with the lowest API is a not good school, and school with highest API is not a bad school. When we are try to argue what’s best for the neighborhood, I think we should keep thing simple, and look at the fundamentals.

If we want to build a stronger community, and if we want a better neighborhood, you should support programs that works best for kids.


22 people like this
Posted by Concerned MV Resident
a resident of Monta Loma
on Mar 27, 2015 at 11:22 pm

In my opinion the most important consideration is "what scenario does the best job at delivering a high quality education to each student at EVERY school in MVWSD?" The district currently does so at roughly half of the schools. Let's use this process to make changes that significantly raise the quality of the other schools so that people want to live anywhere in Mountain View because MVWSD is great across the board. The alternative is to continue allowing some schools to struggle along while the 'preferred' schools continue to excel.

However, I am very concerned that the BATF has been set up for failure because of the lack of clear direction from the trustees, the preexisting biases the trustees have brought into this process, the lack of data to fully evaluate each of the scenarios in an apples-to-apples way, and the speed at which they are trying to drive the committee. These are significant decisions that have significant downside for the Mountain View community, and I applaud the BATF members for their willingness to slow down the process to get the data they need to make thoughtful and informed recommendations to the trustees. This is a difficult task, but it has been made more difficult than it has to be.


15 people like this
Posted by dad51
a resident of Rex Manor
on Mar 28, 2015 at 12:16 pm

The trustees cowardly went the easy route and voted to open 9 schools without closing any, thereby over-constraining a problem that they callously push to staff and the committees to solve. I would wish for more accountability: make the hard decisions, not the easy ones that seem to please everybody but that are not realistic! If you cannot pay for what's on your wishlist, you cannot have it. That is how ordinary people make decisions every day!


5 people like this
Posted by Herman
a resident of Gemello
on Mar 28, 2015 at 12:21 pm

[This and following posts removed; using more than one name in a single thread violates terms of use.]


3 people like this
Posted by Steven Nelson
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Mar 29, 2015 at 6:58 am

@whoever. I hardly see my colleagues on the Board as cowardly. Wheeler has put up with unwarranted anonymous abuse on this forum just trying to offer opportunities for 1:1 discussions. Coladonato and Chiang have posted their views, with Their Name, for many years prior to them being elected (or while candidates for elective office). @dad51, there are thousands of dads out there in our District.


28 people like this
Posted by Christopher Chiang
a resident of North Bayshore
on Mar 29, 2015 at 8:50 am

While Trustee Nelson refers to his colleagues kindly, it should not be inferred from his statement that all his colleagues agree with him that evening, or the majority decisions of the evening were unanimous, they were not. There is so much more nuance that the public deserves to know.

On the issue of Whisman , it was 3/2 straw vote. With myself and another trustee opposing the reopening timeline. As said that evening, personally I do not think we should formally agree to open up Whisman until a concrete plan is in place on how to do it, including the financial and operational impacts an opening will have on our other schools. A lot impact data exist in the BATF reports by the district, but it was not discussed at the board meeting.

On the 9 school issue, it was a 3/2 straw vote. As said that evening, personally I agree with the district’s own study that the district cannot afford 9 schools, but I voted for the 9 school solution because there was already a majority supporting Whisman. Seeing that Whisman was support by the majority of the board that evening, meant a Whisman and 8 school solution would be tantamount to a closure or merger of an existing school. It does not make sense to close a neighborhood school to open up a neighborhood school, so I was compelled to vote for a 9 school solution as a lesser of two wrongs. I provided the board this analysis viewable here
Web Link
A district video link to that evening's meeting is found here Web Link

Separately, given the direct attacks some commentators receive from others, I totally understand and support why some choose to post anonymously on school issues, more true of comments critical of my own actions. By all means hold me and the board accountable to good decisions and civil conduct.

Christopher Chiang
Trustee for the Mountain View Whisman School District
The views expressed herein are my own and do not necessarily represent the views of the Mountain View Whisman School District or the school board.


24 people like this
Posted by Jenny
a resident of Monta Loma
on Mar 29, 2015 at 10:48 am

@Trustee Chiang

Thank you for clarifying the exact nature of the board meeting discussion and for your frank comments generally. I appreciate the professional, respectful tone you bring to these discussions and your desire to have the board held to a high standard, both in terms of conduct as well as decisions. Thank you.


14 people like this
Posted by davidr
a resident of another community
on Mar 29, 2015 at 2:30 pm

A lot of the unspoken issue concerns shuffling around low socio economic kids and changing the distribution within a particular school. Monta Loma is currently already 53% disadvantaged students. Landels is only 40% low income and Bubb is only 26%. Apparently a new school in the Slater Whisman area would siphon off the non-disadvantaged kids from Monta Loma.

This is a change from the past. When the Slater School closed after 2005-06 it was prevalently disadvantaged kids, 62%!

If you don't think this matters, consider this:

Numerically, it is absolutely because of the different demographics that LASD outperforms MVWSD. MVWSD's last API report showed results from 3506 students with a growth API of 863. Out of that 1603 were SES disadvantaged kids who has an average API of 773. This means, if you look at the 1902 non-disadvantaged, whose API is not reported as a group but should be, you find out their average API is 939. LASD's API equivalent is 961 which is not that different. Consider that even taking the officially recognized low SES kids out of the comparison, LASD probably has considerable advantages given by the parents to their children compared to MVWSD. Also, in LASD, Gardner Bullis had an API of 947 and virtually all highly advantaged children. The high scores for the district average are driven by Oak Avenue at 987 and Covington at 974. These are schools with very high economic levels in their attendance areas.

No one stops to think about this. The credit taken by the LASD administration for their performance is completely unwarranted in terms of test results, yet that's what they point to all the time. Similarly, clearly the problem in MVWSD is the performance of the disadvantaged kids. Trying to salt them around evenly at all the schools to minimize the reduction in each school's API is not the answer! Stevenson is 11% low income and Theuerkauf is 72% Get real!


3 people like this
Posted by davidr
a resident of another community
on Mar 29, 2015 at 8:12 pm

@Old Steve: Regarding funding, you have it wrong that LASD receives more funding per student than does MVWSD. Both districts received revenues in 2012-2013 of about $48 Million. Both had about 5000 students. It may look like LASD only had 4500 students, but they paid for another 500 students in their charter school. It's very nearly even steven funding wise. The issue though is that LASD is 4% low income and MVWSD is about 42% these days. Both are basic aid districts and so don't get any of the LCFF supplements for low income students, but the day could come fairly soon where MVWSD will get more money from LCFF than even their very high property tax revenue, converting them to LCFF and raising their funding.

Of course, a larger share of LASD's funding is from their local parcel tax than is MVWSD. MVWSD gets more regular property tax revenue than does LASD for about the same number of students.


4 people like this
Posted by Sally
a resident of Monta Loma
on Mar 29, 2015 at 10:38 pm

"A school with low API is not a good school"
I disagree. Therkauf might have lower API than Bubb, but in my opinion, Therkauf is excellent! It teaches math and English, and more to kids who have English as second language so of course the scores will be lower for those kids. Doesn't mean the other kids aren't learning to the same degree as kids at Bubb. My daughter attends ther for TK, the teachers and school are excellent.


5 people like this
Posted by Question for Sally
a resident of Rex Manor
on Mar 30, 2015 at 8:49 am

I agree with you this is the case for some schools, but I'm not seeing this for Theuerkauf. Maybe you know why?

When looking at test score data posted for all Mountain View schools, if you just compare test scores for "white" students, they are all within close range at all of the MV schools except Theuerkauf. I'm looking at "white" student test scores as a proxy for removing the ESL and SED kids. I realize it's not perfect. Some "white" kids are also ELL and SED, but since I wasn't able to find test scores listed by non-ELL or ESD (they are only list for these groups, but not listed for the other kids minus those groups) this was the best way I could do it.

Test scores for "white" kids across the distrct - Bubb 970, Castron DI 977, Landels 963, Monta Loma 928, Stevenson 955. I even looked at the lowest performing school in Palo Alto, Barron Park, white kids have average of 913.

I know schools are much more than their test scores, but for me, these are all pretty close in range, and pretty good, showing me that while some of these schools have higher ELL and SED kids, they are still doing a great job with kids who don't have those needs. I would consider them all good schools.

Want to know the score for Theuerkauf? 855. That's considerably lower than all the other schools I've listed here. So why is that? I don't know for sure, but it does make me think that Theuerkauf is NOT doing well by all it's students.

I live in this neighborhood and I know many families choose to pay high private school tuition instead of going to the neighborhood school, which is probably part of the problem. BUT maybe the school district should really look at Theuerkauf and figure out why it's the only school under-performing with the kids who should be the easier ones to teach. Maybe we should stop sweeping things under the rug and blaming things on demographics alone and really discuss this issue.


3 people like this
Posted by Steven Nelson
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Mar 30, 2015 at 10:12 am

@davidr, almost correct. I haven't looked at the LASD/MVWSD funding this year (per student) but it is Changing Rapidly! Even the terminology under LCF. LASD is "Community Funded" and supported by their high Valuations and very high local Parcel Taxes. (I guess you are right - Charter School has to be supported by this also at some Rate per student).
4% Economically Disadvantaged: 42% at MVWSD. Is Issue. MVWSD is "state funded" this year per student # and will shortly be getting the entire 20% extra per Economically Disadvantaged student from the State [actually per Target Student, LCFF Supplemental Grant].
Do you think the MVWSD should re-establish the Budget Advisory group disbanded in 2009-10? Maybe make it a Board Committee?


7 people like this
Posted by PACT parent
a resident of Rex Manor
on Mar 30, 2015 at 1:11 pm

@Question for Sally of Rex Manor

"...compare test scores for "white" students, they are all within close range at all of the MV schools except Theuerkauf. I'm looking at "white" student test scores as a proxy for removing the ESL and SED kids. I realize it's not perfect. Some "white" kids are also ELL and SED,...Bubb 970, Castron DI 977, Landels 963, Monta Loma 928, Stevenson 955...Palo Alto, Barron Park... 913...Theuerkauf? 855..."

We have lots of non-whites who are also non-ELL and non-SED and plenty of other mixes of each factor, like whites who are ELL and/or SED.

I agree that the district NEEDS to provide a better break-down of statistics so we can tell what is really going on, but I have a theory which may explain the issue with Theuerkauf.

I have always been puzzled by the split-perception of Theuerkauf. General public perception is poor, but the families in Theuerkauf seem mostly pretty happy with Theuerkauf.

Perhaps there is a statistical glitch which applies to Theuerkauf "white" kids (based on your assumptions). Perhaps in the Theuerkauf neighborhood, there is an unusually high percentage of ELL and SED kids who identify as "white" or choose not to identify as non-white.

This would create misleading statistics and possibly explain the disconnect between outside public perception and inside family perception.

It may well be that Theuerkauf is doing just as well as all the other schools are doing based on the family-related dominant issues which have nothing to do with the schools themselves.

It's human nature to pick on the simple-number or a selected sub-set number and then jump to a conclusion that something is terribly wrong someplace. It's a lot harder to look deeply into the numbers and then to convince yourself that there is no "vast inequity" in desperate need of corrective action.

Theurkauf may be a great school, equal quality with our other schools, but simply the victim of fuzzy statistical reporting. This could be corrected by more meaningful data reporting and analysis. Demographics is not smooth and even, it's lumpy, and perhaps that's the problem here.

If we had good detailed statistics and did not need to make big assumptions, like assuming non-ELL = "white" or non-SED = "white", then we would be a lot better informed than we are now.

I've seen kids at PACT who are clearly European "white", but are also ELL and some are "white" English-speakers but SED and plenty of non-white kids who are English-speakers and non-SED.

To understand reality here is very difficult, we need to start with a lot better and deeper numbers to even begin to figure it out.

On the other hand, public perception is difficult to change, so perhaps the win-win solution would be to put money into Theuerkauf in ways that will attract more families to Theuerkauf based on some new "feature" which the public will deem valuable. Something that can be celebrated, explained easily to the public and credible.

Just a thought.


3 people like this
Posted by PACT parent
a resident of Rex Manor
on Mar 30, 2015 at 2:27 pm

@dad51 of Rex Manor

Hi neighbor...

You wrote:
"The trustees cowardly went the easy route and voted to open 9 schools without closing any, thereby over-constraining a problem that they callously push to staff and the committees to solve..."

3 points here:
First, far be it from me (in general) to defend politicians (or any "powers-that-be"), but don't we WANT them to be swayed by public opinions?

I mean, people in positions of power got POWER to USE that power as they see fit and lacking public pressure they will usually exercise that power for their own reasons to their own ends. I'm sure they all tell themselves they will always "do the right thing", but without the public to "inform" them, how would the powers actually know what is really the "right thing"?
How would they know the damage they might be doing, if nobody tells them about it?

Second, the Trustees did NOT "decide" anything but that they wanted the BATF to think/work really hard and figure out the effects of 9 schools and report their findings.

Prior to the vast public pressure to consider 9 schools, the Trustees and Super had effectively eliminated 9 schools as an option, the BATF saw that option as off the table.

Third, left to their own wishes and biases, the board would have closed the Dual-Immersion school at Castro and tossed it across into the Slater campus as the way to give Whisman/Slater a school.

You can read all about it in the MV-Voice articles from early 2014.

It was only public pressure from Whisman/Slater and Castro which eventually managed to convince the Trustees that Whisman/Slater did NOT want a "choice" school in Whisman/Slater and that Castro did NOT want to lose the DI school.

"...I would wish for more accountability: make the hard decisions, not the easy ones that seem to please everybody but that are not realistic!..."

Just because some people have claimed that 9 schools can't be funded, does NOT mean that they are correct or even that they worked hard and creatively trying to figure out some way to do it. There may be a way, but the only way to find that out is to make it clear it's really important to the public to find a way to do it.

"...If you cannot pay for what's on your wishlist, you cannot have it. That is how ordinary people make decisions every day!..."

Indeed, but people pushed into a corner tend to get a lot more creative in their thinking about how to accomplish difficult things.


8 people like this
Posted by True
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Mar 30, 2015 at 4:49 pm

True is a registered user.

Another facility = increased facilities expenses, increased teacher payroll (along with benefits & retirement contributions), increased number of administrators and service staff along with their pay & benefits etc etc.

Seems the better move, if more seats are truly needed (rather than the silly premise of just putting schools closer) would be to make a move to a year-round multi-track schedule. Programs such as these are shown to have positive impacts on student achievement and if a 4-track program is used it can increase the seating capacity of a given school facility by 33%.

This does increase facilities and staff costs for existing facilities a bit, but I'd wager that increase is less than the costs associated with the addition of an entirely new facility.

win-win


17 people like this
Posted by J.J.
a resident of North Bayshore
on Mar 31, 2015 at 9:00 am

Let's go back to a point in time when the board, the staff and the people had agreement, when the statement was made "it's not if but when" a school opens in Slater/Whisman.

It's not clear how "when" evolved to "now". It appears the push for "now" is turning some folks away from the idea of opening a school in the NE quadrant. Maybe we should back up to focus again on the "when" before the concept is buried in the bickering.

"When" there are more kids in the district than space in the schools is an indisputable time to open another school. How do we get there? Given the current capacity of Landels, Theuerkauf, and Monte Loma it might be decades till those schools are full, if the demographics are to be believed.

How about reducing the capacity of those large schools? What about renting the extra space to preschool programs? Rental revenue will increase and, in my opinion as a parent, the elementary school gets a bump in desirability if I have a one stop drop off for my preschooler and elementary kid.

Maybe this particular suggestion is not the answer but I'd like to see the board, the staff, the committees and the parents re-focus not on a date for the "when" but on a set of achievable criteria being met.


3 people like this
Posted by Steven Nelson
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Mar 31, 2015 at 11:04 am

@PACT Parent Rex Manor
It was the Superintendent of the MVWSD, operating independently as an administarator, not under the direction of the Board - that made the idea or proposal for moving DI from Castro. There is well reported 2 nights of Castro parent meetings (170, 270 people) with the Superintendent at that time (just around Feb 6, 2014).
- You are right however, that (hopefully) we are in a CI Cycle of priorities, directions, studies, reports, ... NOT "decide," but direction to staff. Some of us hope 'direction' is taken seriously.

we'll see
SN is a Trustee of the MVWSD


6 people like this
Posted by Mom of MV Kids
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Mar 31, 2015 at 9:52 pm

I applaud the presentation of the costs for smaller schools tonight at the combo committee meeting. I may have misheard, but I think Todd Lee said, to open 9 smaller schools and stay within the budget the MURs at all sites would be smaller than originally planned. Like smaller as in not big enough to fit the whole school at one time. Did I hear that right? I am wondering what other sacrifices might be needed by all schools to fit in the 9th school. Somehow the only financial scenario presented with 8 schools was the one way over budget for the 450 - 600 students and all the bells and whistles wishlist. What about 8 smaller schools with top notch upgrades?


11 people like this
Posted by Geek
a resident of Sylvan Park
on Apr 1, 2015 at 9:48 am

Geek is a registered user.

Why are you trying to compare white students as a criteria of the good school? If we want to compare apples-to-apples then statistically the number of socioeconomically disadvantaged is more significant and Theuerkauf (791) is doing better than Landels (770).


3 people like this
Posted by Question for Sally
a resident of Rex Manor
on Apr 1, 2015 at 11:23 am

@Geek

This is great info. I certainly wasn't trying to say success of white students equals good school. When I looked at the performance of Hispanic, ELL and SED students across the schools, the results were the same. Hispanic, ELL and SED students at Huff, Bubb, Landels and Monta Loma performed better than those at Theuerkauf. However, you seem to have data that shows the opposite. Now I'm not sure which is true. Maybe it varies by year? Where did you find this data? Can you post the link?

We are not even a "white" family, by the way, so please don't take my comment that way. I was merely trying to get data for kids without special needs like ELL or SED. With the data I had access to, that was the only way I could do it.

I constantly hear the argument that Theuerkauf has a lower API score than the other schools *only* because it has a higher population of children with extra needs. However, the data I looked at does not support that argument.


4 people like this
Posted by good decision making
a resident of Gemello
on Apr 1, 2015 at 12:02 pm

"First, far be it from me (in general) to defend politicians (or any "powers-that-be"), but don't we WANT them to be swayed by public opinions?"

It depends. Generally no is the correct answer. Public opinion is usually less informed and often motivated by their own special interests. I want politicians to be independent, take a look at the reports and make a decision and not be swayed by emotional arguments provided by the public


3 people like this
Posted by PACT parent
a resident of Rex Manor
on Apr 1, 2015 at 12:36 pm

@good decision making of Gemello
14 minutes ago

"...Public opinion is usually less informed and often motivated by their own special interests..."

If so, then the powers that have the info should be responsible for honestly providing a full and understandable explanation of their actions. If the powers fail to educate the public properly, then the push-back they get as a result is their own fault.

"...I want politicians to be independent,..."

I want some previously unknown relative to leave me $10 million in his will, but that's not any more likely.

How exactly is a politician "independent" when 3 out of 5 have made it a main campaign promise to give Whisman/Slater a school whatever it takes?

"...take a look at the reports and make a decision and not be swayed by emotional arguments provided by the public..."

If the public is "emotional", it's primarily because the powers-that-be withhold the critical information and don't bother to fully inform the public on their actual motivations and real criteria and true agendas.

As long as the public feels they are being deceived or not being fully informed, then special-interests (like Whisman/Slater has it's emotionally driven special-interest in getting a school, regardless of the harm this will do to the rest of the district) and public emotions are the only 2 forces available to balance-out the power of the politicians and decision-makers.

"We The People..." are supposed to distrust the powers-that-be, we are supposed to try to influence them, we are supposed to force them to tell us the truth and reveal their secrets. When We The People fail to apply pressure, that's when things go really wrong.

The "press" s supposed to be helpful in this, sure, but they can't do the job alone.


5 people like this
Posted by Do the Math
a resident of another community
on Apr 1, 2015 at 3:51 pm

The API scores are just averages. You can compute the API average for the non disadvantaged based on the numbers.

Landels has 344 students taking the tests and an API of 856. 155 disadvantaged have an average API of 770. Therefore the average API of the 189 non-disadvantaged kids (of whatever race) is 926.

Theuerkauff has 274 students taking the tests and an API of 805. 217 disadvantaged have an average API of 791 (yep, 21 higher than Landels). Therefore the average API of the 57 non-disadvantaged who took the test is 858, or quite a bit lower than Landels non-disadvantaged but taking the test suite.


6 people like this
Posted by LASD Comparison
a resident of another community
on Apr 1, 2015 at 3:59 pm

In the Los Altos School District, borders are jiggered such that the disadvantaged are spread between multiple schools. Almond Elementary is one of two schools with >10% disadvantaged students. How do they do?

Almond has 376 kids taking the test with an average API score of 955. Of this, 39 students are disadvantaged and their average score was 757. Their scores are lower than the disadvantaged students at either Theuerkauf or Landles--34 points lower than at Landels. However, LASD tailors its education to the non-disadvantaged and so at Almond you get an average API for the 337 students taking the test who are not tagged as disdvantaged comes out at 978..... which blows away the scores of the non disadvantaged at either Theuerkauf or Landels. Just shows what you can do at a school if you offer after school programs just for the NON-disadvantaged who can afford them.


5 people like this
Posted by Castro Elementary
a resident of another community
on Apr 1, 2015 at 4:17 pm

For completeness, since Almond draws from near El Camino Real not far from the attendance area of Castro Elementary, it seems good to look at this. Also, this is the school where MVWSD seems most concerned for its disadvantaged population, for some reason. How do they do?

Mariano Castro Elementary had 349 students taking the API tests for an average API score of 835. Better than Theuerkauf but not so good as Landels. At Castro, 218 kids are classed as disadvantaged with an average API in that subgroup of 767. About the same score as Landels, but still less than Theuerkauf. When you compute the API average for the 131 non disadvantaged taking the test at Castro, you find it to be 948. Wow! Quite a difference. Way better than Theuerkauf, and 22 points above Landels.

So, what do you conclude? I don't conclude that Castro is a better school for either disadvantaged or non disadvantaged than Landels or Theuerkauf, or even Almond. It works out to get very similar results to Almond School in LASD, when you look at disadvantaged and non-disadvantaged separately. It may be a tad less good than Almond for the well-off kids, but it's a tad better for the low income kids.

If you look at the GAP, the score (non-disadvantaged exceeds disadvantaged) is as follows:

Almond: 221
Castro: 181
Landels: 156
Theuerkauf: 67

So, by this measure Theuerkauf is the best and Almond the worst for the disadvantaged kids.


3 people like this
Posted by Sally
a resident of Monta Loma
on Apr 1, 2015 at 4:19 pm

Demographics
Web Link
Web Link
In addition, some of the "caucasian" kids at Theurkauf are non-native English speaking
Those are old demographics, take a swing by the school when the kids line up.


5 people like this
Posted by Sally
a resident of Monta Loma
on Apr 1, 2015 at 4:24 pm

Hi, sorry I took offense to your comment. But i also heard in one of the BAFT meeting videos (you can watch at least one meeting on-line), "bring other Mtn View schools up to level of Bubb & Huff". From viewing the population as a TK parent, it seems to me that majority of the children are some form of "extra needs" whether it be lunch program or ESL. The parents seem very committed to their child's education, are very involved, the children are very well behaved and attentive, participating students.


3 people like this
Posted by Question for Sally
a resident of Rex Manor
on Apr 1, 2015 at 6:19 pm

So I guess the summary of the info you've listed above is that Theuerkauf is best for disadvantaged kids, but not so good for non-disadvantaged kids? If you have a non-disadvantaged kid your child will probably not do their best at Theuerkauf. I'm not sure that's a great message, but I guess that's what the data seems to be suggesting. Or at least that's what I'm reading above. Sort of depressing.


3 people like this
Posted by Do the Math
a resident of another community
on Apr 1, 2015 at 6:43 pm

Here's a more up to date source for all sorts of information about all the schools, as well as changes from year to year:

Web Link


3 people like this
Posted by Geek
a resident of Sylvan Park
on Apr 2, 2015 at 9:11 am

Geek is a registered user.

I looked at the official scores for 2013:
Web Link
Web Link
If links do not work, go to
Web Link
and enter the school name.


10 people like this
Posted by Christopher Chiang
a resident of North Bayshore
on Apr 2, 2015 at 10:34 am

Regarding data, Mountain View as a community is driven by good use of data, let the community use data to drive their decisions for schools as well.

In 2013 (the most recent year the CDE reports), elementary school average school size:
Menlo Park: 661
Cupertino: 645
Sunnyvale: 609
Los Altos: 500
Palo Alto 475
MVWSD: 450

MVWSD was 514 before splitting Castro into 2 schools (bringing our average to 450), opening another school brings our elementary school average school size down to 400. School averages matter regardless of the grade level variability among districts because school size tells you how many students (regardless of grade levels) are being supported by a single set of support services: principal, janitor, librarian, etc.

More operational efficiency equals more funds for instructional programs and teacher salaries. Does it make sense for one of the lowest funded local districts (MVWSD) to also have the smallest school size averages/highest operational costs?

Link to school size data analysis: Web Link
Link to CDE source data:
Web Link

Regarding Theurkauf, any one who visits all our neighborhood schools would attest that the classroom experience is no different at Huff, Bubb, or Theurkauf. Our variability in test scores have to do with the percentage of the social economically disadvantaged students at each school, given that the instruction is constant.

Families I’ve spoken to are nervous of these test scores, not because they fear cultural or economic diversity, what they fear is low academic performance. Most families in Mountain View would move mountains to create diverse high performing schools.

We can’t teach the same (and fund the same) at all schools and expect more disadvantaged parts of our community to perform equal, nor can we then blame families for being concerned about that academic performance. Poverty does not need to equal low performance. Last week, I traveled to a school in Newark, NJ, where 100% of their students are disadvantaged, and yet they score 90-100% proficient on NJ state tests. Web Link It can be done. It takes moving mountains. I wish we as a community would begin that hard work, over arguing over this nonsense.

Christopher Chiang
Trustee for the Mountain View Whisman School District
The views expressed herein are my own and do not necessarily represent the views of the Mountain View Whisman School District or the school board.


3 people like this
Posted by Data Question
a resident of another community
on Apr 2, 2015 at 11:50 am

@Christopher Chiang:

How can you say Castro was split into two schools in 2013-2014 when the data you link to at CDE shows it as one single school with a population of 675?


3 people like this
Posted by Steven Nelson
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Apr 2, 2015 at 12:20 pm

@Geek - thanks for the links for the public, which all Ed Data Geeks all know. There is an interesting (to me) multi-variable metric a few lines down in those school reports. "Statewide Rank", "Similar Schools Rank." Both in Deciles (what 10% bin).

Landels is in this report, top 70% bin and top 60% of "Similar Schools." What is That? You need to read a lot of Calif Dept. of Education information. Basically - 12 years ago, the District was in the top 60% of elementary (bubble-test academic scores) similar demographic districts. The last recorded test cycle - we were still about 60% decile in the elementary "Similar Schools" comparison ranks.
best,
SN, is a Trustee of the MVWSD, these remarks are his own and were not approved by the President


3 people like this
Posted by Steven Nelson
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Apr 2, 2015 at 12:54 pm

FYI @ Data Question: The Vote on Castro into 2 smaller schools was in late 2014 and has not been done/recorded yet.

Menlo Park SD web-site information: (3 => 4 elementary schools)
May 13: (2014)
The Board reviewed alternatives and provided direction that
the District would plan to bring the O’Connor site on-line as a neighborhood school (e.g. not a choice school) with a grade level configuration that best meets the Guiding Principles,
the preferred modernization/expansion scope of improvements at O’Connor, and potentially Laurel as well, depending on configuration chosen, would likely be within a cost range that will require new bond funding, and
planning and construction in the range of the preferred scope would be best accomplished over a three-year time frame where the O’Connor site would open as a District school in the fall of 2016.


13 people like this
Posted by New Parent
a resident of Rex Manor
on Apr 2, 2015 at 11:45 pm

@Christopher Chiang:

This district continue ignoring the strong demand for the PACT school. Then, do something that help the kids if you really care!

Stop wasting our tax dollar on building a new school that most parents don't want to send their kids to attend. Spend the money to improve our existing schools! Spend the money to help the poor kids. Create more after school tutoring programs. Give bonus to teachers who can teach well and who can improve student academic performance. Give yourself a big fat bonus if you can drive the schools to success.


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