By Bill Shilstone
Closing all or part of Hoover Community School would cause transportation hardships, Latino community parents said Thursday evening at an informational forum on reorganization proposals in the Redwood City Elementary School District.
Closing and/or merging some of the district’s 16 schools are among 25 proposals made by an advisory committee to erase a projected $10 million budget deficit created by steadily declining enrollment. The board is scheduled to adopt a plan at its regular meeting Nov. 28.
The district has lost 1,500 students over the past six years to charter schools, families being priced out of the Bay Area and other factors. State funding is, in part, tied to head count and the Redwood City district is further handicapped compared to neighboring districts by the way property taxes are allocated.
The general concern at Thursday night’s meeting at Hoover was that if Hoover closes, even just the 6-8-grade middle school, many families will not have transportation to neighboring schools.
The meeting was divided into two, in English at 6 p.m. and repeated in Spanish at 7 p.m. The arrangement did not go down well with some parents, one of whom said it was “sending a message” to have the English session first. Supt. John Baker said he had heard feedback that 7 p.m. would be more convenient for Latino parents, many of whom work at more than one job.
Baker was thrown another curve ball earlier in the day when a health scare at Taft Community School forced him to switch the meeting venue as a precaution.
According to district spokesman Jorge Quintana, a parent last week brought to school a note indicating that the child had been diagnosed with gastrointestinal illness, and that this week, a second student and an employee became ill at school. The county health department advised the school to deep clean and disinfect, he said, and move the meeting as a precaution.
The school remained open Friday.
The final two forums will be Thursday, Nov. 1, at 8:30 a.m. at Hoover and 6 p.m. at Kennedy Middle School. Baker announced that the public will be allowed to make comments to the board at those meetings, unlike the first two, when responses were limited to sticky notes pasted on 25 posters, one for each proposal.
More than 200 pages of transcribed sticky note responses will be posted on the district web site, Baker said, and there is a spread sheet on the site for public comment.
Baker gave the audience two clues about the proposals. He said consultants have said that a school with fewer than 400 students is “not viable,” and that the plan, whatever it turns out to be, will not be fully implemented in time for the 2019-20 school year.
Trustee Alisa MacAvoy urged people to lobby the state legislature for more money for schools by signing the recently initiated Full and Fair Funding Initiative petition.