Proposal would move over 1,900 students to new schools

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By Bill Shilstone

More than 1,900 Redwood City Elementary School District students would move to new schools next year under final reorganization proposals to be considered for final action by district trustees Wednesday Nov. 28 at Sequoia High School’s Carrington Hall. The meeting begins at 7 p.m.

Supt. John Baker’s final recommendations follow a board directive given at a five-hour public hearing Nov. 14 that Fair Oaks and Taft, neighboring schools in the low-income North Fair Oaks community, not both be closed. Fair Oaks students would move to Taft under Baker’s proposals.

The final plan calls for the closing of four campuses: Fair Oaks (current enrollment 221), Hawes (301), Orion (270) and Adelante (464). Orion’s parent participation program would move to the John Gill campus and Adelante’s Spanish Immersion program would move to Selby Lane. Selby Lane’s Spanish Immersion program would merge with Adelante’s; the other 460 Selby Lane students would move. At John Gill, 200 students would have a choice of enrolling in the Orion program or moving to another school.

The district faces a $10 million budget shortfall in the next three years because of steeply declining enrollment caused by families moving away or choosing charter or private schools. Funding is pegged in part on student count, which in Redwood City is 7,600, about half the combined capacity of the 16 schools. Baker’s proposals are designed to deal with the cost inefficiency of near-empty campuses and to cut just over $4 million for the 2018-19 school year.

In order to make that cut without the closing of Taft, Baker added two new proposals: staffing reductions of $700,000 instead of the $430,000 originally proposed, and to seek outside funding for the summer school program ($674,000).

Baker acknowledges in his memorandum accompanying his recommendations to the board that the displacement of students causes difficulties and disappointment, and outlines measures designed to soften the blow.

Displaced students from Fair Oaks, Hawes, John Gill and Selby Lane will be given first priority in the district’s Schools of Choice lottery and be able to attend any school where there is space and staffing available. The district will provide counseling and emotional support to students and teachers who are moving. The district will work with community partners to provide transportation to the affected students.

Whether those measures will be effective may be tested Tuesday morning by a group of parents and community members from the affected schools who have organized a walk from the downtown library to district headquarters on Bradford Street to demonstrate their feeling that the burden of the reorganization is falling more heavily on the low-income community.

At the Nov. 14 public hearing, Adelante parent Vanja Douglas summed up the argument: “… schools with the largest percentage of students receiving free and reduced-price meals and the largest percentage of English language learners are being asked to bear the burden of the upcoming changes … while the schools with the most resources are left small, unchanged, and comfortable.”

The public gets a final chance for input before the final vote on Wednesday.

4 Comments

  1. Sounds better then the first options
    Plus leaves two schools east of ECR where they anticipate more rental property being sold to new home owners

  2. I find shocking and disappointing that Adelante students having to change campus are not included in the “Displaced students” although they represent almost 25% of the displaced students. From the beginning moving Adelante students has been presented like a strategic point and not troubling, but it will be troubling and 50% of our students are low-income families. Closing a campus that is efficiently working at its capacity does not make sense. All comments from concerned parents of Adelante have been totally ignored.

  3. my family and i had struggled to get my son in a good school we were homeless at the beginning of the school year we had no transportation for my son to get to school we lived in a motel for two years i got Assistance with transportation to get to school threw the District with a monthly bus pass so my son can be in school every day on time. My family and i got a break in the middle of last year we were blessed with a home and it is only a couple of blocks away from his school Hawes school and now u want to shut down the school when there are so many families that walk there children to school in our neighborhood and as myself and others in the neighborhood don’t drive only walk to school now ur going to shut down our children’s school and make them relocate to the next closest school witch is Roosevelt and we still have to walk because there’s no bus to take them to school and we have to walk in the rain and cold to get our children to school and leave early just to be on time to school. I believe u guys don’t see the pros and cons of the Situation for these families and would u even be Considering transportion for these low income families that only have there own two feet to get around or Public transportation will the District even have the funds to help these people. this board is only Considering the budget cuts and the $ amounts and numbers do any of u have a heart to keep our school open for our children to learn and enjoy walking to school this world is about our future and our children to Succeed in a good Education it’s not about budgets and numbers u as a board of education Directors should know our children future is more important then ur budget cuts please keep our children’s school open it’s for them to learn and be very well educated men and women one day #Hawes Elementary school please keep our school open

  4. I don’t get it for the past two year superintendent baker has been going at it with fair oaks elementary the parents did everything possible last year to keep it open and they came up with all the students they needed for it to stay open and again this year it’s one of the school who would be affected. Fair oaks is one of the school with the majority being low income and with parents who do not drive so why is it that again it has to be one of the schools he wishes to get rid of???

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