Mayor suggests Sequoia Union absorb Ravenswood school district | March 8, 2019 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

News - March 8, 2019

Mayor suggests Sequoia Union absorb Ravenswood school district

Menlo council to study idea for K-12 district in June

by Elena Kadvany

The mayor of Menlo Park has floated an idea with major implications for the Ravenswood City School District: that the Sequoia Union High School District could absorb the struggling K-8 district and create a K-12 system.

This story contains 792 words.

Stories older than 90 days are available only to subscribing members. Please help sustain quality local journalism by becoming a subscribing member today.

If you are already a subscriber, please log in so you can continue to enjoy unlimited access to stories and archives. Subscriptions start at $5 per month and may be cancelled at any time.

Log in     Subscribe

Staff Writer Elena Kadvany can be emailed at ekadvany@paweekly.com.

Comments

18 people like this
Posted by Do You Wonder Who?
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Mar 6, 2019 at 6:15 pm

How disrespectful of Sequoia High School and Menlo Park officials to start something like and make it news by contacting the majority of the Ravenswood Board Members first. They see a tree falling down and instead of helping the tree to stand back, they all want to make wood out of it. How strange that the district has been declining for so long, and they never lend it a hand. Mr. Muller endorsed Pulido in her last election, and also all Sequoia School Board Members. Don't you find this strange? At this time Pulido must be feeling very embarrassed by the results of renewing Gloria's Contrac. I guess this is a way of Pulido getting back for the changes going on at Ravenswood.


14 people like this
Posted by Do You Wonder Who?
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Mar 6, 2019 at 6:25 pm

Correction
How disrespectful of Sequoia High School and Menlo Park officials to start something like and make it news WITHOUT contacting the majority of the Ravenswood Board Members first or at lest include the Board President Tamara Sobomehin. They see a tree falling down and instead of helping the tree to stand back, they all want to make wood out of it. How strange that the district has been declining for so long, and they never lend it a hand. Mr. Muller endorsed Pulido in her last election, and also all Sequoia School Board Members. Don't you find this strange? At this time Pulido must be feeling very embarrassed by the results of renewing Gloria's Contrac. I noticed that besides the Sequoia School Board Members, Ray Muller also endorsed Pulido.
Here is the link to it:
Web Link
I guess they talk a lot.


7 people like this
Posted by Yes on Consolidation
a resident of Menlo Park
on Mar 6, 2019 at 8:20 pm

I’m 100% for consolidating districts, but it should be between Ravenswood & Meno Park.


37 people like this
Posted by Further Study Is Needed
a resident of Atherton
on Mar 6, 2019 at 8:58 pm

Being part of the Sequoia Union School District would enhance the overall perception of EPA public schools & perhaps even create additional educational funding opportunities for the students in the area.

The question is why would the Sequioa Union School District even want to take on such a responsibility/burden?



14 people like this
Posted by concerned parent
a resident of Menlo Park
on Mar 7, 2019 at 12:16 pm

Would we need to do is remove PULIDO FROM THE table she is the one involving Seqouia with this corruption seqouia open your eyes don't get involved with this corrupted that it's going on on the district


15 people like this
Posted by Do You Wonder Who?
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Mar 7, 2019 at 2:59 pm

I feel like Ravenswood is bleeding and the sarks are going around in circles ready to eat them or as the article says, absorb them. Please back up for now and let the new administrators and uncorrupted board members work on rebuilding the district. Sequoia Super Give them a chance. Do not believe what your employee says.


13 people like this
Posted by Back up Sharks
a resident of Stanford
on Mar 7, 2019 at 4:23 pm

I have a lot of trust in the new board members. They have taken the first step which was to removed Gloria. Before that they win the election kicking out two of the four inept board members who were so bind deaf and ignorant. The district is on It’s way to recovery. The status quo’ has been part of rabenswood since about the time Sharifa y marcelino Lopez became board members and then got even worst when pulido the more malicious board member joins the board which help out to bring the district down even more.


20 people like this
Posted by Nicole Sbragia
a resident of Woodland Ave. area (East Palo Alto)
on Mar 7, 2019 at 6:12 pm

Menlo Park needs to mind their business. They have done nothing at all to support ravenswood, it's kids or it's families. They have had no interest in helping the Belle Haven community and now wants to pass the buck onto Sequoia. Finally thanks to the voters of Ravenswood we have new leadership and are seeing a positive change. I do not like it when people in well off communities think they know what is better for us!


23 people like this
Posted by Train Fan
a resident of another community
on Mar 7, 2019 at 6:54 pm

Ugh...where to begin...

"Sequoia Union High School District could absorb the struggling K-8 district and create a hybrid K-12 system."

So...a part-unified-school district / part-high-school district? Does the mayor have an example of an existing government agency organized in such a way? Bueller?

Also, transferring Ravenswood (part or whole) into any other district has a documented procedure that includes most of the following, depending on support:

* approval by the dissolving district
* approval by the acquiring district
* approval by the county
* approval by the State Board of Education

Smaller versions of these transfers have failed almost all of the time (how Pacific Parc was able to transfer remains a mystery to me).


"consolidating districts...should be between Ravenswood & Meno Park."

There's no such thing as a "Menlo Park" school district. And Menlo Park has no real say over any of the 4 elementary school districts that overlap MP boundaries.

Do you know what these all have in common?
* Menlo Park
* Atherton
* Redwood City
* East Palo Alto
* Redwood City Elementary School District
* Las Lomitas Elementary School District
* Menlo Park Elementary School District
* Ravenswood Elementary School District
* Menlo Park Fire Protection District

They're all government agencies, that's what they have in common. All of equal standing. Menlo Park has as much business dictating to Ravenswood as East Palo Alto has dictating to Las Lomitas.

It's also worth pointing out that if Ravenswood was somehow transferred into MPCSD (for example) ALL children in the district would have LOWER FUNDING per student, because once that transfer happened, the transferred kids would lose virtually all state funding because MPCSD is a basic-aid district.

Oh, and Ravenswood has more funding per-student than MPCSD, by the way. But only because of state funding, which would go away in a transfer.


14 people like this
Posted by concerned parent
a resident of Menlo Park
on Mar 7, 2019 at 9:30 pm

why didn't sequoia District get involved when the test scores were low and the kids that were going to be promoted to high school scores were so low why didn't sequoia step in and helped the Ravenswood school district to better the students academic grades this is bs please thank the two board members wilson and Pulido on their journey to keep screwing the Ravenswood district along with Gloria Hernandez if these two people keep insisting lets start a campaign to remove them from the board
Pulido has lost touch with the community since she lost power as president and she is trying to destroy the district by giving it away to sequoia since she got a job there
through corruption it is clear she got the job because of favors, why is she and the superintendent so interested in our Ravenswood school District please sequoia district don't you see the corruption has arrived at your district and you better watch out you could be next get rid of Pulido "BAD APPLE" thank you.


12 people like this
Posted by Do You Wonder Who?
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Mar 7, 2019 at 10:14 pm

I love the last posting done by Concern Parent really got it right when he or she says that the rest of the BAD APPLES should be removed. It is a shame that Pulido and Wilson are still there, watching the results of their awful and corrupted leadership that they have provided to Ravenswood for so many years. They should be recalled. They are the reason for the district's financial crisis. They allowed Gloria to waste our student's fund in things that were not related to the student's education. The state should have taken over last year. .
Thanks also to Nicole's poster, she is right why no one helped before? How come Pulido and Wilson used to speak pests about Sequoia by saying that they did not want our Ravenswood students at their school and now all of a sudden when Pulido works for them, she has a change of heart and thinks that Sequoia High School District will be the best to take over our district? There is actually a video on Facebook that was recorded when Wilson was talking pests about Sequoia High School. This is truth. If Sequoia High School would have heard how Pulido used to express about them they would have not hired her.


1 person likes this
Posted by Life Raft
a resident of another community
on Mar 8, 2019 at 6:21 am

Electing new board members won't magically fix the Ravenswood School District's problems. There was a time when the group now in the minority were the fresh faced reformers. The district was struggling prior to Dr. Hernandez-Goff joining it.


8 people like this
Posted by Do You WonderjT who?
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Mar 8, 2019 at 6:42 am

Life Raft,
You are partially right. Sharifa, pulido, marcelino and night were there and did nothing to improve the district and instead, they hire the worst person for the job. They fire Maria Vega because they did not like her and hire the worst candidate. All these years of pulido Marcelino, knight Wilson, Chavez the titanic was sinking and they pretended every thing was fine. They allowed Gloria to spend money left and right without limitations. Employees complained of retaliation eg gVigli, prado, and more but the mentioned board members pretended they did not hear it.


9 people like this
Posted by Machiavelli
a resident of University South
on Mar 8, 2019 at 1:16 pm

I sit here and wonder if Pulido, Mueller And Bonilla sat together and came up with this ridiculous idea. It comes at no surprise that Pulido is behind this. She was endorsed by Mueller in The last election. She also works for SUHSD and sits on the RCSD board.! I also don’t understand why Menlo Park has interest in RCSD due to fact it has no jurisdiction on neither district.

- Machiavelli


5 people like this
Posted by Alicia
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Mar 8, 2019 at 6:15 pm

Mayor of Menlo Park is preparing to run for San Mateo County Board of Supervisors to replace Don Horsley. He will do what it takes to get media coverage. Unfortunately, he is aligned with Board Trustee Pulido. He endorsed her last campaign run and doesn’t actually know the issues in Ravenswood/East Palo Alto. Ravenswood is on a good path now with the Interim Superintendent. Let’s not get distracted. Ravenswood should not entertain meeting with Menlo Park to discuss a take over.


7 people like this
Posted by Machiavelli
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 9, 2019 at 1:47 am

Alicia I will agree that some politicians will burn their house just to upgrade their political career!


4 people like this
Posted by Life Raft
a resident of another community
on Mar 9, 2019 at 7:38 am

There sure is a lot of anger over someone floating an idea to address the districts financial troubles. Personally I am more conecerned about the district continuing to lay off teachers for the forseeable future. What’s weird about the Mayor of a City the district provides services to, floating an idea that might help solve that problem? The article said Mueller has floated ideas in the past. The saddest thing I see about this is the vitriol over the discussion of an idea. On March 15tu teachers will start being laid off again. Remember to curse the Mayor for attempting to offer an idea that would help.


***

Consultant: Staffing cuts ahead for Ravenswood
Board member suggests calling in fiscal experts to help district with budget woes - Palo Alto Weekly

“Difficult budget decisions are looming for the Ravenswood City School District, where staff is projecting potential layoffs and the school board is turning to a national nonprofit for help scrutinizing its finances.

Budget concerns for the East Palo Alto district came to a head last year, when several years of deficit spending and declining enrollment prompted a threat of fiscal insolvency and close oversight from the San Mateo County Office of Education. The school board approved last spring $5 million in budget cuts, including layoffs that affected more than 80 classified staff. Ravenswood's total budget this year is about $43 million.

At a budget study session on Monday, the board's third since January, Chief Budget Officer Steve Eichman presented multi-year budget assumptions that include the potential — not yet recommended or approved — elimination of 10 full-time teachers, one principal and five classified positions in the next school year. The cuts total just under $2 million.

The district currently employs seven principals, 143 teachers and 177 classified staff, according to the district. Certificated and classified salaries and benefits make up 71 percent of this year's budget, according to a district budget report.

For the 2020-21 school year, the assumptions include cutting five full-time teachers and two classified positions for about $762,600 in savings.”

Sheila Vickers, the vice president of School Services of California, a company that provides financial and management support to districts and whom the district asked to facilitate Monday's study session, reminded the trustees that most of the district's budget is allocated to personnel and that they will be "required to make some difficult choices when it comes time to balance your budget."

Vickers said that the financial pressures Ravenswood faces — declining enrollment, increasing pension costs, fluctuations in the governor's budget and others — are impacting school districts across the state. Ravenswood's student population has dipped by more than 1,000 in recent years, from 3,537 students in 2012 to current enrollment of about 2,393. The district attributes the decline, which it expects to continue, to an increasing number of families leaving East Palo Alto due to unaffordability and more students choosing to attend charter and private schools. This has serious financial implications as Ravenswood receives the lion's share of its funding from the state based on student-attendance rates.

As Ravenswood's student population shrinks, the board must take action to adjust the district's staffing levels accordingly, Vickers noted.

"The longer you wait, the more you have to cut. The earlier you take action, the less harmful it will be on your employees and your student programs," Vickers said. "The whole idea to taking action is to stabilize programs for the long run and have as much stability as you can for your student population."

The board must issue preliminary layoff notices to staff by March 15.”



10 people like this
Posted by Train Fan
a resident of another community
on Mar 9, 2019 at 10:53 am

Reading this article and comments, it strikes me that many people may be unaware of Ravenswood SD's history, so I'll add a few pieces of information to give folks some context.


1: Corruption, fiscal crisis & poor scores are not new to Ravenswood; this is a longstanding problem. Here's just one example from 2001: Web Link

Even back then, Ravenswood was on the cusp of being taken over by the State.

In my opinion, a State takeover is both the right thing to do and entirely what SHOULD be done with districts like Ravenswood. There are already processes in place for this to take effect, and doesn't require the approval of multiple districts to accomplish, and doesn't require off-the-cuff stream-of-conscious conjecture to accomplish.

There's no reason at this time to do a transfer|merger|dissolution of Ravenswood into Sequoia or another district; just do what SHOULD BE DONE, a State takeover.

And to those of you suggesting we give new, local leadership a chance, I say this: Ravenswood has had well in excess of 30+ YEARS for local leadership to fix the mess, and have utterly failed the community and the children in it. It's time for a state takeover. (30 years is likely a lowball; issues with Ravenswood likely go further than that).


2: I agree that it's a shame that Ravenswood High School was closed by Sequoia HSD. But for anyone even mildly familiar with the history, Sequoia effectively was between a rock and a hard place: Sequoia was made legally required to offer busing for a subset of students to other high schools as part of desegregation and as an attempt to give kids access to better education (and less violence). This obviously dropped attendance at RHS (come on now...who in their right minds would have transferred their kid TO RHS back then? Nobody, that's who).


3: Those of you who think Ravenswood should just be absorbed by MPCSD clearly know very little about how school funding works in California in general, and Ravenswood in particular:

* Ravenswood is primarily state-funded. A territory transfer to a basic-aid district likely results in the LOSS of most of that funding, resulting in ALL students (both former-Ravenswood and current students) receiving lower funding per-student, a lose-lose.

* Ravenswood receives more funding per-student than MPCSD.


3 people like this
Posted by Facts
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Mar 9, 2019 at 3:43 pm

Train Fan - It is incredibly ironic that you said "it strikes me that many people may be unaware of Ravenswood SD's history, so I'll add a few pieces of information to give folks some context" when your post makes it incredibly clear that you are unaware. Reading articles does not make you an expert.

Sit back and watch ... Ravenswood is united in our mission to do what is best for our children. If you aren't there every day - you have no idea.

Sit back and watch - the Interim Superintendent is an exceptional leader and everyone on the ground is both behind her and with her.

Also, lets not compare apples and oranges in terms of test scores. Think about the socio economic differences, the Language Learner differences and all of the time Ravenswood has to spend dealing with insults constantly slung their way.

Every cafeteria was filled to capacity with love for their schools at the community meetings - that speaks volumes.

Ravenswood on the Rise! #OneRavenswood


2 people like this
Posted by RCSD on Way to Recovery
a resident of Menlo Park
on Mar 10, 2019 at 1:46 pm

By removing Gloria from the district, good things are already happening already, and they will keep happening until the new board member and/or the acting superintendent cleans house (Glorias Cabinet). Once the corrupted people leave and with the new uncorrupted board members things will start improving. Of course it will not happened from one day to another. It took Glria 5 years to bring the district into a financial crisis, so I imagine that it will take about the same and possibly less time. At least Gloria is out and cannot make more damage. At least things will continue about the same as she left them while the new board members and new superintendent make the rest of the changes that need to happened. Menlo Park could not about Ravenswood Students unless 3 word members vote yes. I know that Pulido and Wilson will vote yes, because at this time, they must be feeling pretty crappy that they lost power and now things have turned around and instead of being the majority, now they are the minority. Therefore they cannot make more changes that will damage the district as they did when Gloria was there. We are in the process to recovery from Dictator Hernandez.


2 people like this
Posted by Juan
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Mar 10, 2019 at 1:59 pm

Hallelujah!!!


2 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Menlo Park
on Mar 10, 2019 at 2:32 pm

The question for Ravenswood is how they can improve their schools so more families want to attend.

Merging them with another district - Sequoia, Menlo Park, Palo Alto, etc. - doesn't accomplish much if it does not address that question. I haven't heard any ideas along those lines. Menlo and Palo Alto both have Tinsley kids - my recollection is that they do no better in those districts that the students in Ravenswood.

Improving low-performing schools is a hard problem, but re-arranging district boundaries seems like more of a distraction than a solution.


4 people like this
Posted by State Take Over, not a Bad Idea
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Mar 10, 2019 at 3:18 pm

I agreed with the last person who posted. Instead of closing the CDC and all the cuts that took place last year, the board members shall had jus let the stake over, our students would be a lot better this year, but no, the board members did not want to loose their seats, and to make things worst they thanked Gloria for the bad job she was doing by giving her work for 2 more years. They knew it was wrong, but they could not do the right thing because they owed her so many favors, and it was time to pay her back.

If things do not improve, we parents and community have something to say, we could also asked the state to take over the district. I am afraid that as long as Pulido and Wilson continue to make decisions that affect our student's education, things will not get better to the contrary, their contagious disease of corruption could spread to other board members who might not be so strong. If corruptions is spread we would back to Glorias Regime in no time. I really, really hope that these two new board members do not get contaminated by Pulido and Wilson.
Parents let's not forget that Ravenswood School Distric and the schools that belong to our district, belong to us residents of East Palo Alto and Belle Haven. The super, and all employees are just that employees who get paid to work there and administer it. If we noticed that something is not right we have the right to point it our without being afraid of the retaliation they can take against us or our children because it is against the law to retaliate just because we want better schools, leaders, teachers, and employees.


Like this comment
Posted by Interested Observer
a resident of another community
on Mar 31, 2019 at 9:20 am

How about this: MPCSD, RCSD and Redwood City Elem School District consolidate into one district together? Or all three be absorbed into Sequoia UHSD and become a large unfied school district? Oh and throw in Las Lomitas as well - spread around the resources that seem concentrated with a small number of students - and refocused to benefit a greater number? How about that Mr. Mayor? Shared sacrifice for the benefit of all. Seems fair.

As for those of you posting negative comments about Ms. Pulido, you are only playing into the hand of those who would like to see RCSD obliterated. Ms. Pulido was elected - in fact securing more votes in the November election than others (see article: Web Link). Dr. Hernandez is gone, so stop getting distracted by matters no longer issues. Get focused, get smart and start to work together - even with your differences. The new board (all five members) has a responsibility to the community to move the district forward. Take it on. Make it work - together. tFSPu


Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

All your news. All in one place. Every day.

 

Register now!

On Friday, October 11, join us at the Palo Alto Baylands for a 5K walk, 5K run, 10K run or half marathon! All proceeds benefit local nonprofits serving children and families.

More Info