http://mv-voice.com/print/story/print/2014/04/25/superintendent-reopening-whisman-slater-school-a-given


Mountain View Voice

News - April 25, 2014

Superintendent: Reopening Whisman-Slater school 'a given'

Huge resident turnout supports bringing back a Whisman-Slater school

by Kevin Forestieri

Parents and kids alike came out in big numbers Thursday night to show support for reopening an elementary school in the Whisman and Slater neighborhoods.

Well exceeding the 50 seats provided, and likely breaking a maximum occupancy rule, neighborhood residents showed up at the April 17 Mountain View Whisman School District board meeting in a show of public support for bringing back a school to what they say is an under-served area of Mountain View.

They got a good response for their efforts.

After the presentation, Superintendent Craig Goldman told parents that opening a school in the area is not just on the table; it's going to happen.

"From my perspective, the opening of a school in the Slater-Whisman neighborhood is a given. It's not a matter of if. It's a matter of when," Goldman said.

Since the closure of Slater elementary school in 2006, the northeastern "quadrant" of the city, roughly the area between highways 85, 237 and 101, has gone without a neighborhood elementary school. The area is instead sliced up so parents have to drive their kids to four different elementary schools across the city.

And while the the closure of both Whisman and Slater schools was an important sacrifice to stay within the budget for the school district, representatives from the Whisman and Slater neighborhood associations say the district has the money, the elementary student population is rising fast, and it's high time an school be brought back into the neighborhood.

Greg Coladonato, president of the Slater Neighborhood Association, said he was thrilled with the turnout, and that the board seemed to show interest in the ideas they had for reopening the school.

"We really brought reality to the board, and showed we had the support," Coladonato said.

Parents from the neighborhood spoke to the board stressing the need for a school in their neighborhood, and assured the board that they would switch to an elementary school their area.

"If a neighborhood school was to reopen in the Slater-Whisman area, I would sign up both of my boys today," said Greg Chapin at the meeting.

Others voiced concern to the board about the impacts of not having an elementary school in the community.

"We have a cul-de-sac in our neighborhood that literally has three families with children that don't know each other," said Soosh Gandhi, former president of the North Whisman Neighborhood Association. "They don't go to school together, they don't play together. It's really tough to build the community."

The board mulled over the idea of hiring a professional demographer to update the studies on student population across the district, and considered a survey for whether parents would send their kids to a school in their neighborhood.

Jessica Gandhi, president of the North Whisman Neighborhood Association, said the board should keep in mind that kids in second grade and above are likely too old to benefit from a reopened school. Gandhi said the focus should be on kids in first grade and below, and that there are big incoming numbers to watch out for.

According to a district demographer study, the Whisman and Slater neighborhoods have 611 elementary students, and that number is expected to grow to 723 by 2017-18. But Ellen Wheeler, a board member for the Mountain View Whisman School district, said they want to know more than just the number of students.

"Of those 600 people, how many of them would choose to go to a neighborhood school?" Wheeler said. "If it's 100 people, that's not a neighborhood school. If it's 400 people, that is a neighborhood school."

Goldman said he has been in support of opening a school in the Whisman neighborhood for some time, and that his announcement during the meeting that it was "just a matter of when" is not a sudden change in attitude.

He said if the board and the district administration consider opening a new campus, they need to take into account the number of elementary school students in the neighborhood, which sits at 611 as of 2012-13, as well as the district-wide numbers.

"District-wide enrollment has been fairly flat," Goldman said. "There's not a lot of growth."

Goldman also agreed with Wheeler that they need to assess what impact re-opening a school will have on neighboring schools. He said opening a school may provide some relief for schools at or over capacity, but a big change in attendance could result in another school closure.

Email Kevin Forestieri at kforestieri@mv-voice.com

Comments

Posted by Jessica, a resident of North Whisman
on Apr 25, 2014 at 10:06 am

The support of the community for re-opening a neighborhood school within the Whisman/Slater area was great at last week's meeting. But we still need to show the Board that there is a large contingency of people that are interested in this.
Please sign our petition at: Web Link to show your support for re-opening a school in our neighborhood.
Thank you!


Posted by Jessica, a resident of North Whisman
on Apr 27, 2014 at 8:31 am

The topic of reopening a Whisman area school will be on this week's Board Meeting agenda at the MVWSD Board Meeting on Thursday, May 1, 8:40pm (yes, we are the last item on the agenda)

The school board meeting last week to present our ideas on re-opening a neighborhood school in the Whisman/Slater area was a success and a start in the right direction. The next step in this process will take place this Thursday, May 1 when the School Board will hold a discussion during their regular board meeting on this topic. See the agenda link -- item on the last page: Web Link.

The discussion will take place at the District Board Room, 760-A San Pierre Way at 8:40pm.

If you are interested to hear what the school board has to say about our ideas and other ideas they have been thinking about, this would be a good meeting to attend. There will be time for community input as well, so we encourage anyone who wants their voice to be heard about the options for a local school to please come and give your input.