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Mountain View Whisman board prepares to vote on installing fences at Monta Loma

Original post made on Aug 18, 2023

After nearly three years of discussion and disagreement, the Mountain View Whisman school board is poised to take a vote within the next month to approve installing fences at Monta Loma Elementary School.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, August 18, 2023, 1:53 PM

Comments (11)

Posted by Steven Nelson
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Aug 18, 2023 at 2:30 pm

Steven Nelson is a registered user.

Option 1 is very fine - Except that it fences students out from the "Multi-Use Field" (about 1.3 acres) during school time! Staff, Family and Neighborhood Focus Groups (in my reading of the text) agreed that this "greenspace" should be "student", "children during school hours" space.

Option 3 does this 'better than 1' - Or a "Left Curve Fence" switch from the right-curving student-restricting fence of Option 1. (Stay Out of Field during school-time!)

FOCUS GROUPS (quote of the written record)
Staff: 2nd of 3 “•Delineation of open space which creates a safe/secure greenspace for students during school hours.” 
[students during school hours]
Families: 1st of 3 “•Providing more open greenspace than currently being provided for children to run in during school hours.” 
[children during school hours]
Neighborhood: 1st of 4 “•Preservation of open green space during non-school hours, and maintaining the site’s ability to be a place of community building, and gathering.” 
 [non-school hours, community gathering]

Only the Seniors group discussion point seemed to stick in the consultant’s mind during verbal comment:
Seniors: 1st of 3 "•Maintaining openness of the greenspace available to community use during and before/after school hours."
 [during school hours]

Posted by SalsaMusic
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Aug 18, 2023 at 2:38 pm

SalsaMusic is a registered user.

Seems silly to me that neighbors are so upset over option 3 given that it would benefit 100s of their children, rather than the 7 that would benefit by having access to the field in the day time.

Let's put kids first!

Posted by Steven Nelson
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Aug 19, 2023 at 11:14 am

Steven Nelson is a registered user.

@Salsa, I'd agree. I sent the Board (those who set Public Policy) a written reminder to them in the days before their meeting. Their "trusteeship" is to the education of the public school students, not to the Seniors. First and primarily to the kids (and their teachers and staff) at school, only secondary to those expecting to use these 'school public lands' out-of-school-hours and days, and little (thirdly) to those wanting to use the kids' public school fields DURING THE SCHOOL DAY!

At my local school, 50-60 years of chain-link-fencing around the school kid's "run around" field has mainly 'taught' adults wanting to walk around and walk dogs -To Avoid Trespass on School Kids' Field DURING the School Day. It works, because we oldsters have been trained!

The local school staff (teachers) know this school's educational needs (Option 3) better than the 'personal' ["I recommend ..." ] advice of Superintendent Rudolph. (#1)

Posted by MV Resident
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Aug 19, 2023 at 1:31 pm

MV Resident is a registered user.

It’s unclear from the published board content if any of these options still allow for small-sided youth soccer on the large grass field, because they appear to cut the field in ways that eliminate sideline margins or limit field length. Does a 7v7 field still fit? If so, put it in the diagrams!

For the unfamiliar, there’s a real shortage of soccer field space in MV vs demand... the major turf fields across the city are shared by as many as four teams at a time during practice hours, which isn’t great for training and enjoyment of a sport that is surging in popularity among youth, and continues to see adult rec league teams playing in the area as well. Similar story at Los Altos / Foothill and Twin “Mini golf putting surface” Creeks.

Posted by LongResident
a resident of another community
on Aug 20, 2023 at 5:05 pm

LongResident is a registered user.

This whole fiasco is very misleading as presented by the Board. Monta Loma is the smallest school they have, where enrollment dropped from 463 in 2016 to 245 in 2023. The district has muddied the waters by talking about perhaps building a second school on that site when it's way down on the list on the best possibilities they have to squeeze in another school (which they don't really need).

So is the district just trying to assert their ownership of that entire small parcel? Or are they really concerned about kids.

The odds are with only 40 kids per grade, they don't really use all that outdoor space during the school day. Almost all of the activity is on the hard court space near the classrooms. They just don't have the ability to supervise kids off roaming around the open space by themselves. Adding fencing won't help much with that. The kids can get into fights or otherwise hurt themselves so they aren't just dogs that can be let out into a fenced area with the fence to protect them.

So I don't think there needs to be as much concern with preserving full access to as much of the green space as possible. Realistically, the odd case which might cause use would be one particular class maybe venturing onto the green space for some sort of class activity.

Odds are the enrollment goes down still further. The idea of bussing more kids in to fill the land is just not workable. Plan the fencing for the reality of a school that's half the size of what it was 6 or 7 years ago.

Posted by SalsaMusic
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Aug 20, 2023 at 10:13 pm

SalsaMusic is a registered user.

Long, they don't have kids going on the grass today because it's not fenced off. Not because they can't supervise them. At other schools where the grass is now fenced off (i.e. Bubb), the kids play in the grass during the school day.

The grass is for the SCHOOL children first, everyone else second. Easy as that.

I second the comment about awkwardly breaking the grass up to prevent soccer. That would be bad.

Posted by LongResident
a resident of another community
on Aug 21, 2023 at 2:12 am

LongResident is a registered user.

All of the elementary schools are seeing vast drop offs in enrollment which reduces the amount of staff and the ability to supervise kids in different areas of the school. Bubb is down to 339 kids where in 2016 it had been 565. Bubb was always fenced in around the field but kids were still not allowed to roam over the entire open space without supervision. Where security fencing and gates was added at Bubb it was in areas like the teacher parking lot and the front of the school facing the street by the office.

Bubb is 9.66 acres and loads of the grounds are off limits to kids playing around at recess. Adjacent to Bubb is a 3.5 acre city park that is not part of the school. Kids never used the park or came anywhere close to the border with the park at recess, but the district "hardened" the border with the park.

The concern with security is valid but the implementation has been ridiculous. Look at that argument from the Superintendent claiming that one reason is to slow down school shooters by a few seconds. That makes no sense at all. These are fences with openings in them all along their run, not some kind of solid wall with barbed wire on top.

The small school doesn't need the entire grounds in the day time since it is 10 acres with only 245 students. The thing is the way they are trying to carve off a small section for a neighborhood park is just weird and the park is more of a trail through the edge of the place requiring a lot more fencing. It won't be any safer or any better for the neighborhood spending $600K on a maze of fences like this and for sure it won't deter some kind of nutcase from going crazy. The whole layout of the school is for historical reasons and doesn't lend itself to fencing off space. They'd be better off making a new totlot at the front of the school and opening a half acre or so as a daytime park as they have done at Castro. It could probably be an entire acre and make more sense and cost less for fences.

Posted by Wanda
a resident of Monta Loma
on Aug 21, 2023 at 11:11 am

Wanda is a registered user.

Which option will allow the most space for soccer during non-school hours?

Which option will best allow children and staff to get away from building and fire fighters into the buildings the case of fire?

Posted by Steven Nelson
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Aug 23, 2023 at 3:34 pm

Steven Nelson is a registered user.

Long Resident - your story lacks veracity and experience on-the-schoolyard. I had 3 boys in Bubb over 17 years and they all 'roamed over the fields' behind fences. Not 100% fencing for sure, but more than 95% field fencing (vastly exceeding Monta Loma teacher's current 'plight'). I use the word plight, because I have substitute taught PE and supervised Recess and Lunch play at most of the MVWSD elementary and Middle schools!

Without fencing - it is very labor intensive to keep kids away from the streets (traffic) and away from the adult strangers that Kids Should Not Be Mixing With. It is really that simple. Kids at Castro, on their field with a Field Fence, are safer than kids who might play or have PE on the Monta Loma public school Multi-Use Field.

I substituted in PE on the Castro Elementary (fenced field) for over 3 months in the early 2000's. Fences will not stop bullets - but they will stop kid-wandering - quick adult abductions - and adult walk-around-wanderings.

Good enough / give the teachers what they want. "Accommodate" the public out-of-school-hours.

Posted by LongResident
a resident of another community
on Aug 23, 2023 at 7:13 pm

LongResident is a registered user.

These days things are different than they were 20 years ago. There have been a lot of lawsuits about kids doing things while unsupervised on playgrounds. Enrollments are down too. Monta Loma only has a few fields and perhaps the fencing is needed just to keep the kids from edging over into some of the tree shaded and poor visibility areas along the edge of the school where there are some walkways. But that's no reason to split the soccer field in two. My point is the kids don't need access to the areas that are problematic so you could argue those off in the same way Bubb always had fenced the street. But this wouldn't be a case of blaming the city park for causing the problem--it would have been there anyway. Kids can get into trouble in the nooks of a playground even with cars being not an issue.

Posted by Steven Nelson
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Aug 24, 2023 at 12:23 pm

Steven Nelson is a registered user.

@LongResident: I'd agree - don't split the Multi-Use (soccer) Field in two!

The Seniors' may want all the field / greenspace open to them "during," before and after school time - but that is not the safer configuration for The Staff and School Kids. Feedback reiterated by the teaching Staff in Focus Group and their recent letter-from-the-Staff to Board.

A "Left-Curved Fence" redrawing of Option #1, with the fence to the far left of the soccer field (just inside the tree line along the walk-way) ...

Gives over 1.3 acres of unobstructed open green space to the School Kids/Teachers during school time. Then after school hours WIDE GATES open up to the neighborhood usage. Seniors from Focus Group need to compromise / Staff, Families and Neighborhood Focus Group priorities green space for Students "during" the school day.

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