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A solution to the crowded schools problem

Original post made by Parent on May 14, 2007

Has anyone thought of this idea?

Open Garland but move Ohlone there.

Ohlone site becomes neighborhood school taking residents from the area between Oregon and Embarcadero (they will still have to cross a major artery - just a different one) and residents north of Colorado. Redraw the boundaries in the North to even out the size of the schools now that a chunk from the North is at Ohlone site.

This would ease the crowding at the three North schools and also at Palo Verde which will be getting more students from new housing.


Ohlone would still be a commuter, choice school with all its programs, just at a different site.

MI could go to Greendell when JCC leaves either as choice or charter.

Comments (27)

Posted by Mom, a resident of Barron Park
on May 14, 2007 at 7:01 pm

Ohlone has fended off the idea of moving before. It's the farm thing.


Posted by Former OhloneParent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 14, 2007 at 8:35 pm

Moving Ohlone to Garland would take away the glorious farm where thousands of parent hours have created an oasis for outdoor experiential learning.

Besides Garland is only half a mile away from Ohlone- doesn't seem worth it.


Posted by Palo alto mom, a resident of Crescent Park
on May 15, 2007 at 8:46 am

At this time the BOE has decided not to reopen another elementary school.


Posted by k, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on May 15, 2007 at 8:57 am

I would wonder about upping the traffic if Ohlone - a commuter "Choice program" school - were put in at the Garland location. There already is traffic from Jordan Middle right next door. Why not open Garland as a regular neighborhood school if/when the BoE decides a new facility is needed?


Posted by Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 15, 2007 at 9:00 am

Garland already has traffic - Stratford School is practically all driven to school kids from all over PA and further. Ohlone relocating there would not change the traffic for the worse, possibly create less traffic as some one definitely be able to walk/bike.


Posted by Just Curious, a resident of Midtown
on May 15, 2007 at 10:14 am

When there is such serious crowding at the other school sites and a waiting list to get into Ohlone why do they still have the luxury of a "farm" on campus?


Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on May 15, 2007 at 1:28 pm

The Farm's not creating the waitlist at Ohlone, there's room for cubicles without touching the Farm--it's more an issue of how many kids do you want at an elementary school. More a traffic, crowd-management than a physical space issue--unless you decide to up things to 600 kids.

No point in making the Ohlone site the neighborhood school in lieu of Garland--the BOE has a fairly firm policy of not making elementary kids cross Oregon to get to a neighborhood school.

Moving Ohlone to Garland would eliminate the Farm and do nothing to shrink its waitlist.


Posted by Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 15, 2007 at 1:45 pm

Ohlone Par

I am not sure where you get your information about the BOE having a firm policy of not making elementary kids cross Oregon as I think you will find that Gail Price has said something that counters that when discussing the boundary issues and the possibility of opening up a 13th elementary school which of course was voted against.

However, there will be a new Board at the end of this year and increasing enrollments may make things change.

The idea of moving Ohlone to the Garland site would be nothing to do with decreasing the size of its wait list, rather just increasing the number of neighborhood spaces in the south as its present site could return to a neighborhood school and take in the kids who presently cross Embarcadero to get to Hays and Duvenick which are also very overcrowded.


Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on May 15, 2007 at 2:02 pm

Parent,

My info was from one of the big redistricting reports, where it mentioned the policy.

Garland's a smaller site than Ohlone--the switch you proposed has been considered. It would eradicate the Farm and because the Garland site is small, limit the expansion.

Garland makes sense as a neighborhood school--particularly because people in the triangle (like myself) have to cross busy streets to get their kids to school. Garland would create a school that older kids could walk to. I suspect, because of that, people in the triangle would be pretty happy to make the switch.

Palo Verde is overcrowded, but there are other schools in South Palo Alto, such as El Carmelo, which are not. All of the north schools are heavily overcrowded.

I see distinct advantages, geographically for Garland as a neighborhood school and disadvantages for a popular magnet school.


Posted by k, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on May 15, 2007 at 2:11 pm

Parent, my understanding is Stratford School is K-3 (maybe also pre-k) and I have seen little traffic from Stratford am I am frequently in that area - but they don't go up to 5th grade like Ohlone would if it moved to that site, so I do not support moving Ohlone to the Garland school site.


Posted by Bill, a resident of Palo Verde
on May 15, 2007 at 5:50 pm

Stratford School, of Palo Alto: Pre-School......Pre-K......Kinder......then 1st to 5th grades.
Per their web-site.


Posted by Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 16, 2007 at 9:02 am

Stratford school is also day care and starts very early with drop offs and has pick ups that go on until 7.00 pm as anyone who spends time watching baseball games at Jordan knows to their peril.


Posted by Palo alto mom, a resident of Crescent Park
on May 16, 2007 at 10:26 am

Dear parent - just curious, why to your peril during baseball games?


Posted by Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 16, 2007 at 10:30 am

Stratford puts up signs in its parking lot, right beside the baseball diamond, that if non Stratford people are using the lot and their parents can't park they will get papd to tow violators. Parking is definitely at a premium in this area at times when baseball games and sports are going on and I don't think people realise that a school parking lot at this stage in the day is needed for school parking. I haven't heard of anyone being towed, but the threat has been posted.


Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on May 16, 2007 at 11:16 am

What's odd to me about the parking situation around Stratford is that you can't park along N. California--it's a bike lane with no houses fronting it. That probably works very well for Jordan since it makes that much safer for your kids to bike.

It would be okay for a small neighborhood school and a disaster for a large magnet at Stratford.

I have some recollection that Garland would be a small school only about 260, which is partially why the board didn't want to spend the money reopening it and paying off the lease.

Greendell's also a small site, but if the JCC is moving, couldn't they put MI split classes in three classrooms?



Posted by yet another parent, a resident of Escondido School
on May 16, 2007 at 3:58 pm

"Greendell's also a small site, but if the JCC is moving, couldn't they put MI split classes in three classrooms?"

Wow. Spoken as though MI were a given. How about putting a few Y5 classrooms there first?


Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on May 17, 2007 at 12:17 am

Yet another,

Unless we get a board with a new backbone, I'm not optimistic about the MI situation. I'd just rather see it somewhere that's not overcrowding another school.

There are already two Y5 classes at Greendell. How many more are really needed? At some point, it says something about the screwiness of our K curriculum if we need to put every child born later than May in Y5 program--which sometimes seems like how the situation's presented.


Posted by Yet Another Parent, a resident of Escondido School
on May 17, 2007 at 9:11 am

"At some point, it says something about the screwiness of our K curriculum if we need to put every child born later than May in Y5 program"

Not necessarily. There are school districts across the U.S. that put the Kindergarten entry cutoff on September 1, not December 15 as we have here. Maybe they're onto something?

I fully agree with your comments about putting new programs where they don't overcrowd existing schools.

Let's first take care of what we're already committed to -- neighborhood schools, SI, Y5, Ohlone, Hoover -- before we add more programs that may compromise and/or distract us from our existing programs and goals.


Posted by Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 17, 2007 at 12:16 pm

Please be very careful if you want to change the cut off date from where it is.

My daughter has a late November birthday and she was reading well, understood all her numbers and was able to count and do simple adding and subtraction when she started kindergarten. Her motor skills were not great so her attempts at writing were not good, but she knew how to spell both her first (10 letters) name and her last name before kindergarten. She was very bored in the last few months of preschool and was eagerly waiting for the day to arrive when she could go to "big school" rather than "play school for babies". I know children develop at different rates, but there are many who need to start around the time of their 5th birthdays and making them wait longer would be absurd.

In other countries, there are two intakes a year. Now the way this works at the end of the academic year when the two have to integrate, I am not sure about. However, the fact stands that they recognise that young children develop very quickly in 12 months and although they are not ready for the rigors of kindergarten this year, they will be in a few months time and making them wait for a whole year is ridiculous. Children should be taught what they need to when they need it, not waiting for an arbitrary date that has nothing to do with their developmental needs. A year is a very long time in the life of a four year old, and so is 6 months.

The only method that would really make sense is to test those with late birthdays in August and for those who do not appear to be ready, they should be automatically be given a place in Young 5s, not have to enter a lottery. If it is needed, it is needed. It would be unfair to the child itself and the class as a whole including the teacher if an under matured child was pushed into kindergarten too soon.


Posted by parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 17, 2007 at 1:32 pm

Young Fives is a tool this district should use to help both the kids that need the slower entrance (and there are alot of kids if you speak to kinder and first grade teachers), AND to help the kids who are ready to move on more quickly. By separating those two groups, you give each a chance to focus at appropriate level - better for both. AND you give teachers kids who are at similar readiness levels so teachers can teach instead of babysit. Less stress and more happiness and accomplishment for all.

Since all our elementary schools seem to have at least two strands per grade, most have three, a few have four... I wish they would create differentiated classrooms that would allow readiness appropriate pacing at each grade level at each school. Why don't they do this? Or do they do this quietly without telling the parents? To prevent some sort of sick parent competition for spots in the "fast lane"? I'd like to see the faster kids have the ability ot get a little more stimulation, and give the slower paced kids the ability to move at their own pace. It doesn't seem like it should have to be that big of a deal. Seems like you don't have to go to 'choice' programs, this could be implemented as a standard neighborhood school practice, and wouldn't have to change the curriculums at all.


Posted by anonymous, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 17, 2007 at 2:23 pm

OhlonePar,
Go talk to our board members about MI -- I think you will see that this revote is all about Susan Charles' willingness to take it, and thus take it off the hands of the board who just wants it to be someone else's problem. If the Ohlone community is against this plan, they need to let Susan Charles know, and soon.

Those of us out here think Ohlone parents are more than glad to take MI so that they can get some language instruction for their kids (while those of us in other schools have to wait, or possibly never get, FLES).

I hate that the board is turning our district into that kind of place, where connections, threats, and backroom deals get you what you want. I'm not the kind of person to do things like PACE has, but that seems to be the way to get heard. The board members (except Gail Price) have even made statements indicating that they seem to think if we aren't there yelling at them and threatening to do something bad, that we aren't that interested.


Posted by Parent, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on May 17, 2007 at 7:12 pm

How about revisiting the Tinsley issue. Why is Palo Alto providing 62 spaces a year via lottery to residents of East Palo Alto. The schools in our own district are overcrowded. The BOE and PAUSD needs to place the needs of kids in Palo Alto over ALL other kids from ANYWHERE. I think the settlement was contingent on availability of space. Let's enforce it.


Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on May 17, 2007 at 11:49 pm

I have actually talked to the board about MI. I'm not the only one. Barb Mitchell was the only one who seemed swayed by the willingness factor. Fact is, Dana Tom didn't buy it. Nor did Mandy Lowell. And if you paid attention to Susan Charles comments--the implication was she figured if Ohlone was going to get stuck with it they should "welcome" it. In other words, she was going to make sure she was in charge of it. I think she sees the possibility of the charter getting stuck at Ohlone.

I haven't met an Ohlone parent who likes the idea. The FLES promise is very vague and not immediate. Overcrowding is. We have a school that works very well, why monkey with it.

That said, the problem with protesting to Susan Charles is that it isn't up to her at this point. It's up to the board and they're obviously spineless.

The only thing I can think of that might have some pull on the board is the very real threat of the next school bonds failing. I don't think the board quite realizes how much people will vote their pocketbocks if they're feeling exploited.


Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on May 17, 2007 at 11:57 pm

Parent,

I believe some of the Addison parents last year tried to get the BOE to send the Tinsley kids to schools where there was room. The BOE refused. It is kind of crazy. I think the BOE won't go there because they want to look like they're rejecting poor kids of color. But denying kids access to their neighborhood school so some kid from another county can go there hardly seems equitable.


Posted by another parent, a resident of Greenmeadow
on May 18, 2007 at 7:45 am

OK, contrary to OhlonePar, I have spoken to a number of Ohlone parents are are fine with MI going to their school. These are Ohlone parents in different walks of childhood life: baseball, church, soccer, etc.

So, OhlonePar, it might be helpful for you to talk to more parents.

The teachers are also excited about it, along with Susan Charles, who isn't "stuck" with it, but is innovative enough to recognize and believe it is good for the Ohlone community.
[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


Posted by anonymous, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 18, 2007 at 9:26 am

OhlonePar,
We have to agree to disagree about this. The way I read it, if Susan Charles stood up to the board and said, "No, the Ohlone community is too against this," the board would not be revisiting this now. It really comes down to practicalities. Susan Charles is an experienced administrator who promises to take away the whole unpleasant business, wouldn't you be glad to push it on her? Come on, Ohlone isn't nearly the best location for a school like this. It promises an untried dual immersion/Ohlone curriculum mishmash. Why Ohlone? Susan Charles.

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

And it brings me back to my point -- those of us on the outside looking in feel like, if the teachers are excited about it, it's because Ohlone kids will be getting a language opportunity the rest of the kids in the district don't have (you scratch my back...) That really rankles out here, that the Ohlone "community" would take a program that is blatantly not cost neutral (and PACEr's are already putting their unbelievable spin on the ongoing resource drain, like the assistant principal they'll need -- gee, who's paying for that? umm, private donations as promised?), a program that offers an opportunity the rest of us don't have (language instruction), in order to get that opportunity for themselves. [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on May 21, 2007 at 1:30 am

Sorry, I didn't see the additions to this thread.

Another Parent, I'm sure there are people who want it at Ohlone. You're going to have disagreement among several hundred people. I, however, am not running into them. I've expected to and have been surprised by the absence. Something tells me that since I'm at the school five days a week that I do talk to a few more Ohlone parents than do you.

And, no, I'm not known as an outspoken opponent of MI. I know people on both sides of the debate--none of the pro-MIers I know have kids at Ohlone. Nor did any of them apply to the regular program. Some applied to SI.


In all the time I've posted here, I think I've seen one self-proclaimed Ohlone parent post in favor of it. At the Jan. 23 board meeting, I saw several Ohlone parents wearing green. I didn't see any I knew of in the red section. (though I did see several people I knew.)

Monica Lynch is definitely excited about it. I think there is a definite educator-ego thing going on. I've also seen Ohlone parents give those educators a very hard time about it.

Anonymous,

As I've said, Susan Charles changed her mind about it. She originally opposed it and then got into the value-added proposition. *She* benefits from it in all sorts of ways.

I agree that if she'd opposed it earlier, the board would have voted down MI 4 to 1 instead of 3 to 2. However, it's not clear that PACE wouldn't have threatened charter anyway. And the charter could be stuck at Ohlone anyway. Or that, from the board meeting a couple of weeks ago, was something Charles thought possible. She figured it was either going to be Ohlone or Escondido. I'm paraphrasing from her last board meeting appearance.

I think both Dana Tom and Mandy Lowell know that the Ohlone MI isn't some magic solution. But it does seem to be a straw that they're grasping at.

But were any of us expecting such rapid flip-flops?

Please keep in mind, I *don't* agree with Susan Charles here. I'm simply trying to put across what I've heard her say in public or what people who've talked to her have told me at different points.

Also, the MI thing was pretty much sprang on a large chunk of Ohlone. We heard about it Monday before it was discussed on the board meeting Tuesday. I think there was some Site Council discussion afterwards, but no schoolwide meetings or debates. This was very much a decision of Charles and her staff.




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