How to Get a Community in Upheaval: Talk About Redrawing School Boundaries!

Posted on 07 December 2009 by vvandervort

Map of proposed boundary changes for San Carlos schools

Map of proposed boundary changes for San Carlos schools

For several years now, the San Carlos school district has ended up in a situation where there is considerable uneven distribution of students in the elementary schools based on registration numbers.  What results is that they can’t fit these students into their neighborhood school and then send them to a school somewhere else in the San Carlos school district where there is room.  White Oaks elementary tends to have too many students registering – last year there were about 50 too many kindergarteners.  Then, Heather elementary never seems to hit capacity during registration.  This year Heather elementary looks like they are almost 40 students below their capacity. 

In order to keep this from happening year after year, the San Carlos school board is trying to redraw the boarders for the elementary schools so that each year they don’t have to do a shuffling of students away from their neighborhood school.  Definitely makes sense.  But how it is done is challenging and definitely stirs up emotions in the San Carlos community!  The San Carlos school district knows that they could just take a chunk of the White Oaks area and send them to Heather, but they are trying to help keep students in a school that geographically makes sense.  They are shuffling streets (and in some cases just blocks of certain streets, e.g. Howard Avenue) around for all 4 of the elementary schools.   If you are a fan of maps, you might want to check out the map of the proposed boundary changes.

There was a town hall meeting last Monday when it was openly discussed with San Carlos residents.  Then there was a San Carlos school board meeting on Thursday, December 3rd where it was further discussed amongst the board members.  The plan at that point was to vote on it this Thursday, December 10th, but then it was decided to delay the vote on it until the last meeting in January, which they decided to reschedule for January 21st. 

Another topic the San Carlos school board discussed at the meeting on December 3rd  was sending out commitment letters to families to tell them which school they had a spot in.  This was prompted by the superintendent, Craig Baker, having a good level of confidence that the community really knew about the unusually early registration.  However after some discussion amongst the board members (one of them, Seth Rosenblatt, has his own blog, which provides a great place to pick up additional information), it was decided to hold off on sending out the letters in case there was a group significant in size that had missed out on the early registration this year which might show up in early 2010 to register.   Although prudent on the part of the San Carlos school district, on a personal level, I would love it if we could know this early where our kids are going.  Some anxiety might be reduced to know that there seems to be plenty of room in the schools.  White Oaks, Brittan Acres, and Arundel are thus far just a little below their 90 kindergarten capacity.  Heather is way below its capacity.  Each of the elementary schools has room for 90 kindergarteners, so there is room for 360 kindergarteners in all of the San Carlos school district and at one point at the board meeting it was stated that there are 305 kindergarteners currently registered. 

I was going to tackle it now, but I’ve written too much already, so come back for my opinion on what might happen to San Carlos real estate values on the streets that are being impacted by the redrawing of the school boundary lines.

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