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Superintendent: Reopening Whisman-Slater school 'a given'

Original post made on Apr 18, 2014

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.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, April 18, 2014, 1:59 PM

Comments (32)

Posted by Sonia, a resident of Cuesta Park
on Apr 18, 2014 at 2:13 pm

Wheeler's question, "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" sounds like weasel words.

Why wouldn't the kids go to their neighborhood school? Why would this neighborhood be different than every other neighborhood in the city (and on earth?)? Build a great neighborhood school and parents will send their kids there. For convenience, for community and all the benefits of having a strong school as the center of a neighborhood.

I hope the District is ready to move ahead with this and I'm glad the Voice is covering it.


Posted by Concerned, a resident of North Whisman
on Apr 18, 2014 at 2:16 pm

Um I agree with reopening the school, but there are child offenders who live in the area and there is a police presence often present on Gladys and nearby. Shouldn't that be addressed before opening a school right there again?


Posted by Concerned, a resident of North Whisman
on Apr 18, 2014 at 2:18 pm

Also, isn't Google's daycare there at the school as of now?


Posted by Ellen Wheeler, a resident of Blossom Valley
on Apr 18, 2014 at 2:40 pm

@Sonia - I'm sorry you think the statement printed in this story is "weasel words." To paraphrase a favorite movie: "If you build it, will they come?" I think the responsible thing to do is do a professional survey to gauge interest before we commit millions of dollars of district funds. (For example, what if most people in that quandrant do not want a school in their neighborhood and would prefer to let their children go to Huff?) To answer another of your questions: "Why wouldn't kids go to their neighborhood school?" there are families in this city and Earth who make other choices for their children than their neighborhood school. If you were at the meeting last night I hope you saw that our board is interested in moving forward with opening a school in that area of town. I, too, am glad that the "MV Voice" is covering this story.


Posted by Greg Coladonato, a resident of Slater
on Apr 18, 2014 at 2:47 pm

Greg Coladonato is a registered user.

For anyone who missed it, here are links to the different parts of the item concerning opening a school in the north east part of town.

Video of the board:

The presentation: Web Link
Clarifying questions: Web Link
Public comments: Web Link
Board deliberation: Web Link


Posted by Greg Coladonato, a resident of Slater
on Apr 18, 2014 at 2:49 pm

Greg Coladonato is a registered user.

[I tried to post this along with the post above, but apparently 8 URLs in one comment is "over the legal limit", so I had to split it into two emails]

For anyone who missed it, here are links to the different parts of the item concerning opening a school in the north east part of town.

Video of the presenters and commenters:

The presentation: Web Link
Clarifying questions: Web Link
Public comments: Web Link
Board deliberation: Web Link


Posted by hmmph, a resident of Waverly Park
on Apr 18, 2014 at 2:58 pm

Ellen's son went to his neighborhood elementary and middle schools, both in MVWSD and both within walking distance. Kids in the un-served part of town don't have that option.

I don't think the district needs to throw away any more money on studies, consultants, architects, etc to tell them what to do. How about taking their direction from their constituents, who signed a petition and turned out en masse for the meeting? I'm not sure they even need to pay more big dollars to update the demographic study, looks like the neighbors did that for them last night when they described all the new housing developments in the city.

The board doesn't need to hire someone to tell them what to do. It's easy: schedule a meeting at a convenient location in the neighborhood, see how many people attend, and listen to their thoughts about a new school.

At least Board Member Chiang had the good sense and ability to see the big picture to realize that it makes no sense to charge forward renovating the district schools before stopping to consider these closed schools that were left out of the plans.


Posted by Old Steve, a resident of Rex Manor
on Apr 18, 2014 at 3:24 pm

So if we hold this meeting in the neighborhood, magically achieve consensus, charge ahead to renovate one of the schools, get set to open with about 300 K-3 students, and only 125 actually enroll, who pays back the several million dollars in design, construction, new principal salary, etc? This is exactly the discussion that took place before Slater was closed. Many folks thought Slater was important, just not important enough to try to run a school on just over half the proper number of students. Many parents who have access to neighborhood schools can't get their youngest there on foot or bike anyway. The district's job is to best by all it's students, not to experiment on behalf of some at the expense of others. This new school is at least three years away. If the District has to commit now, what kind of commitment can anxious parents offer?


Posted by Greg Coladonato, a resident of Slater
on Apr 18, 2014 at 3:39 pm

Greg Coladonato is a registered user.

For anyone interested in seeing the progress made by the community on this issue over the last year, here are two other Voice stories on it:

Re-open Whisman School?
Web Link

Whisman area neighbors want local school
Web Link


Posted by Greg Coladonato, a resident of Slater
on Apr 18, 2014 at 3:44 pm

Greg Coladonato is a registered user.

@ Old Steve:

"This new school is at least three years away."

When staff proposed "DI@Slater" in January of 2014, part of the plan was that a new campus could be built at Slater, behind the existing facilities that Google occupies, and moved in to in the fall of 2015.

So, when the district wants to do something, they can move fast, or at least they think they can.


Posted by Ellen Wheeler, a resident of Blossom Valley
on Apr 18, 2014 at 3:49 pm

@hmmph - My older children went to a choice program in a different district, and I strongly considered PACT for my youngest child. One strength of this district (and Cupertino, Palo Alto, etc.) is that they have choice programs that anyone can attend. I understand your interest in a neighborhood school. The fiscally prudent thing to do is gather data before we commit millions of dollars on this idea.


Posted by LuvHuff, a resident of North Whisman
on Apr 18, 2014 at 4:07 pm

My kids go to Huff and I live in North Whisman.

After speaking with several parents, my feeling is that a large part of this movement stems from Superintendent Goldman saying North Whisman would be rezoned and the kids not already at Huff would have to go to another school. These parents feel that if their kids cannot go to Huff, then they would prefer a neighborhood school that they can walk to.

If my area was rezoned and a neighborhood school was available, I would not even consider taking my kids out of Huff. No way!


Posted by Greg Coladonato, a resident of Slater
on Apr 18, 2014 at 4:30 pm

Greg Coladonato is a registered user.

For anyone interested in seeing the presentation given last night, here's the link:

Web Link


Posted by Local, a resident of another community
on Apr 18, 2014 at 4:49 pm

In the first comment here, Sonia seems to've missed the context of the question. Not "weasel words" but history. As Old Steve pointed out in the previous Town Square thread about this (before the meeting) -- and a current Whisman Station resident confirmed it:

"The closure of each school was implemented by a different school district. In both cases, families with children within the attendance area were not sending kids to the schools. The opening of Whisman Station should have increased local attendance enough that keeping Slater open would have been easy. Those kids never enrolled in the district. "


Posted by jane, a resident of North Whisman
on Apr 18, 2014 at 5:27 pm

I believe that Steve is over-simplifying the closing of Slater. The District determined that a school needed to be closed, and it became a difficult choice between Slater and Castro. it was politically charged, and there was volumes of data which was disregarded. To many of us who were on committees and groups, it became evident that the leasing of Slater to Google for Day Care for 350K a year had been on the back burner for a long time. If the closure had been over test scores, then Castro would have closed.


Posted by Linda Curtis, a resident of Cuesta Park
on Apr 18, 2014 at 5:38 pm

With the increasing numbers of children in the area (those born there and those moving in with all the new folks taking advantage of the newly created jobs in MV) it is prudent to rush this school to open. It would be a gathering point handy to that community, would increase sense of the community & the community spirit, and make getting to school easier & faster without more cars having to drive all over this gridlocked town.

As to the sexual criminals, they are in every neighborhood. The utmost of caution must always be employed to protect children from this ubiquitous element. A police presence wouldn't hurt. Spend the money on doing all the above instead of just studying it. A school is needed and beneficial, and will grow the number of students attending over time.


Posted by WasteOfMoney, a resident of Slater
on Apr 18, 2014 at 5:45 pm

Silly to reopen a school for only 100-200 students. Actually criminal. Spend the money on improving the existing schools before caving in to a few loudmouthed parents.


Posted by @WasteOfMoney, a resident of Slater
on Apr 18, 2014 at 9:46 pm

Where on earth did you get the idea that this school would be for 100 or 200 students?


Posted by @@WasteOfMoney, a resident of Slater
on Apr 18, 2014 at 11:14 pm

That's true..it could be less than 100.

There are some vocal parents that don't want to spend their own precious time driving their kid to school, but there are far more that are happy to do so in order to get a better education.

It's very unlikely that a re-opened school will be as competently run as existing ones (remember the old school--blah), so only a very few (lazy) parents would be willing to sacrifice their children's scholastic future...


Posted by @Ellen, a resident of Stierlin Estates
on Apr 19, 2014 at 7:30 am

Ellen says, "One strength of this district (and Cupertino, Palo Alto, etc.) is that they have choice programs that anyone can attend."

PACT is now turning away more students than it can take in. I, and none of my neighbors and friends that I know got into that school this year. This is not a "choice" program anymore, this is a "you can go here if you are lucky enough to win a big lottery" school. With demand for this style of teaching increasing, the district should consider expanding or opening a new PACT-type school.

Open the Slater school, close Theuerkauf and use that campus for an expanded PACT-type school. It is sad that PACT needs to turn away so many families, it acts more like an elite private school now than a public school serving as many kids as possible.


Posted by Steven Nelson, a resident of Cuesta Park
on Apr 19, 2014 at 6:49 pm

As the 2nd member of the MVWSD Board to post - that 'hits the limit'. Please read the community presentation whose link was posted earlier. One of the study options was exactly PACT@Slater. It could be moved & enlarged, or added (a PACT2) or taken over from Google (their lease ends soon).

We know, from the 2013 Demographic Report that only 45% (less than half) of the parents of students in "Huff A area", (Whisman near 101) want to send their kids all the way across the city! These are kids 'assured' of being enrolled in Huff since 2006! But their parents don't buy it. Check the facts - Table 8.

The truth shall set you free, unless you lock-up your mind.


Posted by Live near Huff, a resident of Martens-Carmelita
on Apr 22, 2014 at 10:20 am

Two points:

1) paying for a survey/data to confirm need to re-open school. I agree with other posters that this is a waste of money. I remember 8 years ago going to a school board population survey results meeting. Their hand-picked demographer suggested birth rates were going down and that MV would face declining enrollments. I was shocked. I knew that was wrong--neighborhood parks were filled with future students, and with affordable housing, young families were moving in droves. I could have told the board that for free--these surveys costs tens of thousands of dollars and created a false outcome that the district was willing to believe and in some ways, their decisions the last 8 years have helped suppress public school enrollments. More recently, MVWSD wasn't going to conduct a survey when they were floating the DI move to Slater. What MVWSD needs to do is take that proposal, re-image it for a neighborhood school, and start building.

2) I live in the Huff neighborhood and have to contend with increased traffic from the Slater kids, and other MV residents coming over to my neighborhood. My kids are afraid to ride their bikes to their school lest they get hit by the intra-district transfers coming in. And I am fearful of that too. So for the Huff families from Slater and beyond--it's better for all of MV if you go to your neighborhood school. All of our schools have too many intra-district transfers. All elementary school enrollments are increasing and it's ridiculous to be criss-crossing students all over MV because the Superintendent is not willing to swap out your school. Your attendance zone within the district is not a God-given right. Districts can make these switches and it happened in Los Altos about 10 years ago with Springer and Covington. It's painful for the first year, but it's the right thing to do in the long run.

I hope the district will seize this moment and quickly build out a school for the Whisman/Slater folks. For almost 10 years they have been without a school, paying the same school taxes as the rest of us in Mountain View without the benefit of a school to call their own.

If children attended their zoned school, it would be a win for everyone. Kids, community, commuters.


Posted by Robert, a resident of Slater
on Apr 23, 2014 at 2:28 pm

Robert is a registered user.

It may come as a surprise to some but the former Whisman District residents are currently paying 20% more in school bond taxes than their MVSD counterparts. If you are living North of Middlefield, that's you. This inequity will increase as the bonds mature.
Please note the responses are embedded and come directly from Tony Hsieh of Keygent.

1. Are the Projected Tax Rates really going to be about $50 more (per $100,000) for the Whisman Portion compared to the Mountain View Portion for the five years 2021-2025?"



Yes, based upon current estimates of assessed value growth of 4.85% per year.

...



3. Is the total Projected Tax Rate (2021-2025) for Whisman Portion about $82 per $100,000 and MV Portion $34 per $100,000?"



Depending on the year you are looking at, the total tax for the Whisman portion would range from $81.77 to $89.00 per $100,000 and the Mountain View portion would range from $32.95 to $34.34 per $100,000

And still we have no school

...


Posted by Concern Parent, a resident of Shoreline West
on Apr 23, 2014 at 3:16 pm

I went to PACT school open house this year, I saw the demand was extremely high as comparing to other schools' open-house. If the demand was so high, and the school was successful, I don't understand why the district don't want to expend the program for MV parents. We need stronger, safer neighborhood, and we need good environment to raise kids.


Posted by Missing a chance, a resident of another community
on Apr 24, 2014 at 12:29 am

This reopening should be a no-brainer. It's not like the remodeling cost can be skipped for the schools which are leased out for income anyway. They need to be maintained too. Earthquakes can knock down the leased out building and then what happens.

So a PACT program requires parents to participate. It's not something started by the school. With all the low income students in the city and in that area, the parents may not be available to start a second program. Google will be sad to lose their daycare facility at Slater. So go to them and make a plan to fit a PACT campus and space for Google on the same campus. There's already a separate district special ed facility in the back of Slater. Relocate that and build a new facility there for Google. Then continue to remodel the original Slater school and get them running side by side. You ought to be able to get Google to help with the PACT program. It could be really good--a great opportunity.


Posted by Jessica, a resident of North Whisman
on Apr 24, 2014 at 3:28 pm

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 Concerned , a resident of another community
on Apr 25, 2014 at 11:59 pm

@Jane - when the decision was being made re: a school closure in 2005 - if you examined the scores of neighborhood/local students at Slater vs neighborhood/local students at Castro, scores were higher at Castro. The presence of the PACT program on the Slater campus skewed the scores and made it appear that the scores were higher at Slater but they weren't.


Posted by NextYear@Huff, a resident of North Whisman
on Apr 27, 2014 at 9:07 pm

My son just turned 5 and will be enrolled to Huff kinder garden coming this fall. I have two more toddlers that will attend kinder garden in 3 years, and will likely follow the older one to attend the same school. If the slater school re-opens, I would not even consider to switch my kids back. It causes major disruption to change schools no matter what grades they are at.

I really doubt that the neighborhood that are currently assigned to Huff district will want to switch at all and that's a large portion of the N. Whisman population.


Posted by @NextYear@Huff, a resident of Slater
on Apr 27, 2014 at 10:23 pm

Did you see this interesting factoid in one of the earlier comments?

--
We know, from the 2013 Demographic Report that only 45% (less than half) of the parents of students in "Huff A area", (Whisman near 101) want to send their kids all the way across the city! These are kids 'assured' of being enrolled in Huff since 2006! But their parents don't buy it. Check the facts - Table 8.
--

Who knows what all the different reasons people decide to send their children to different schools are.


Posted by MV Mama, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Apr 27, 2014 at 10:30 pm

I don't think you will be given a choice to not switch? When boundaries are redrawn kids are moved.


Posted by J, a resident of Cuesta Park
on May 2, 2014 at 6:57 pm

@ MV Mama: When boundaries are changed they usually put in a clause to grandfather in the existing students at their previously assigned school, so that their family lives don't get disrupted like NextYear@Huff pointed out. Oftentimes the siblings are grandfathered in as well. This happened at Bubb a few years ago, for example, when some streets near Target that previously went to Bubb were reassigned to Castro.


Posted by DisIntergrate, a resident of Martens-Carmelita
on May 2, 2014 at 11:02 pm

Whisman kids are not going to be as academically successful as our kids. That is a fact of socioeconomic life. Slater should be reopened so these underperforming children can be with their own and grow up with more confidence. It wouldn't be fair to keep frustrating them.


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