Town Square

Post a New Topic

Data reveals where school district has more, and less, space for students

Original post made on Aug 15, 2015

The school district's new enrollment-management committee took a deep data dive on Monday night in order to equip its members for the charge they have been given: Come up with a series of innovative recommendations to address growing enrollment in Palo Alto Unified.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, August 14, 2015, 12:00 AM

Comments (35)

Posted by Schoolparent
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Aug 15, 2015 at 4:21 pm

Ohlone has well over 600 students. Please correct your information. Ohlone is the largest elementary school in the district!


Posted by Ohlone Parent
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Aug 16, 2015 at 2:15 pm

Ohlone is closer to 625. This is the same size as one of our city middle schools!! Far too big for the age of the student body, playground, yard duties, resources, parking lot / drop off circle, multi-purpose room (it is impossible to have the school gathered together in one indoor place. Even outside, it has so far been totally impossible for the children ~and parents if they are there too for parades, performances, etc~ to hear our principal over a loudspeaker.)

It is two very very different programs, with largely different needs and two fairly disparate parent groups under ONE administration and support staff.

Splitting Mandarin Immersion currently at Ohlone into another very nearby location (such as Cubberly) would be ideal. Ohlone as it was developed to be 30 years ago needs to be restored.

The task for the current administration, the current support and resources staff, volunteer team as well as the still awkwardly very separate parent groups is cutting into the schools (any school would face this, not just Ohlone) sense of community, teamwork, shared participation and effort.


Posted by OPar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 16, 2015 at 5:18 pm

Yep, Ohlone's over 600 students and the school board knew this would happen and didn't give a damn about it when it approved MI *and* approved MI continuing at Ohlone past the three-year trial period.

Time to use Greendell and transfer the immersion programs there. And MI parents should grow up and quit running to the school board any time the slightest suggestion comes up that the program is moved.

Ohlone's on its third principal since MI and the huge of the expansion of Ohlone occurred. That's not a coincidence.

We are fortunate as a district that we have sites for three (possibly four) additional elementaries and one high school. It's about time the administration and board showed some sense of responsibility to its students and did something to reduce the ferocious overcrowding.


Posted by Fred
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 16, 2015 at 9:08 pm

The 14th day enrollment report for 2014 shows 608 students at Ohlone, 602 in general education classes.

@OPar (and others), how do you feel "ferocious overcrowding" manifests itself at the elementary level? There are enough classrooms, teachers, and seats. What aspect of the experience feels "overcrowded" to you or your children? Ohlone Parent mentions a few - "playground, yard duties, resources, multi-purpose room." What creates the sense of over-crowding to you?

On the Ohlone principal - there are several PAUSD schools on their third principal since 2008, including the two largest (high) schools and the two smallest (elementary) schools (Briones and Barron Park); so not sure how much of a role size plays.


Posted by OPar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 17, 2015 at 12:17 pm

Fred,

The things Ohlone Parent mentioned are one thing, but just as troublesome to me is the way kids fall through the cracks--issues that were dealt with earlier and a more relaxed manner tend to be more severe by the time the school administration steps in. In general, the more overcrowded a school, the more strict and less responsive the administration becomes because they just don't have the manpower to respond the way they did before.

In addition, Ohlone no longer is able to balance the gender ratio in its classes, which means the lower grades are getting swamped with boys--many of whom are pretty high-maintenance--their parents applied to Ohlone because they're worried their sons can't handle the more structured environments of the other schools. So, increased bullying and discipline problems.

Hint to would-be Ohlone parents--if your child isn't self-directed, Ohlone isn't actually that good of a fit.

Your ideal elementary school has 300-400 students--and, at one point, Palo Alto had a cap on elementary school size, which they have proceeded to completely ignore.

I can tell you personally that the difference between my first pre-MI years at Ohlone had a very different feel than they did after the full implementation of the MI strand (there was also the expansion of 4/5 class size at the same time). You just can't work as a single community in the same way--it's too many people--and for a community-oriented school, that's a real loss. The connections among the adults just aren't the same.

Because Ohlone is a choice school with a particular philosophy, the loss of staff signifies something different than it does at the neighborhood schools--Ohlone tends to be a community with its own way of doing things--there's a learning curve--it's hard for a principal to walk in cold.


Posted by Fred
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 17, 2015 at 12:35 pm

@OPar, so the main problems I hear are that the administration may be understaffed for the school size (so less personalized/informal situation handling) and that it is hard to have a community of so many people, which is esp. important for Ohlone. So aside from Ohlone, do you think larger schools are ok, providing they are properly staffed?

I think the gender ratio issue actually cuts the other way - traditionally, smaller schools have trouble balancing gender because of random variation by grade. In Ohlone's case, it sounds like there may be a skew in the lottery applicants, as you suggest


Posted by OPar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 17, 2015 at 1:35 pm

Fred,

No, I don't think large elementaries are okay--I mentioned some of the other reasons besides the administration. 600-plus kids and, say, 500 parents means that it's very difficult to schedule schoolwide community gatherings, something that has been a hallmark of the Ohlone community--this is a school that was started by a coalition of parents and teachers, so the parent/administration connection has historically been quite tight and necessary--the Farm, for example, is wholly funded by the Ohlone community through the weekly farmer's market/bake sale and the Ohlone Harvest Festival. Ohlone has always very much worked on an open-participation model--if a kid wants to try it, he or she can. With 600 kids that becomes a real challenge--you can't have, say, 300 kids in a school play.

Even if MI left and Ohlone-main expanded from 3.5 to 4 strands, it would still be a pretty sizable school, but because it would a bit smallerand a single program, I think it could function better than it does now.

There's a fair amount of research on school sizes and there's an indication that there are optimum sizes that reduce school stress--our high schools, for example, should stay under 2,000--something that's not happening.

I'd be a little more tolerant of this if there were no alternatives, but the district does own the spaces and we're a generous community when it comes to supporting our schools. We could open a couple of new elementaries (and fill them) and, at least, offer some sort of alternative high school program at Cubberly--I favor a project-based one, but other people in the past have suggested a baccalaureate program and I can see the arguments for that.

We have the means to create a happier, healthier district--we need to do that.


Posted by MI Ohlone Parent
a resident of Ohlone School
on Aug 17, 2015 at 6:49 pm

As an MI Ohlone parent, I've never felt like I'm part of a totally disparate parent group. We volunteer at the same events. We contribute to the same funds. Our kid has close friends in English classes. We're close with parents of English kids. We applied to Ohlone for the Ohlone program first and foremost. Just picking up MI and shoving it into a different facility would be pretty harsh for a large section (my guess is a majority) of the MI students, and I think having integrated with Ohlone makes the entire program stronger. Size is a different consideration of course, but Ohlone is by no means the only big school. A more comprehensive plan is needed.


Posted by OPar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 17, 2015 at 7:03 pm

MI Ohlone Parent,

Pretty typical MI response--it's all about you. Never mind that the school has more than 600 students and that MI has bumped hundreds of families from a place at Ohlone since its inception.

Ohlone is too big. MI is the natural program to spin off. If it and SI went to Greendell, there would be a three-strand school and the possibility of a second MI strand (which, honestly, I think would appeal to the PACE crowd.)

Ohlone could then pick up the half strand that was approved years ago (which MI bumped) and cut down its waitlist, but still not be a 600+ student school.

As for your parent-friends--that's what Facebook is for. If MI and SI are spun off, kids will get to stay with their classmates and the parents will have a chance to hang with parents who share their values regarding bilingual education.


Posted by MI Ohlone Parent
a resident of Ohlone School
on Aug 17, 2015 at 7:13 pm

I'm glad you've polled enough MI parents directly to fashion a "typical MI response". As opposed to this being all about me, what about you? Escondido is crowded. Walter Hayes is crowded. Barron Park and Juana Briones are underenrolled. The middle schools are crowded. There's pressure coming from new Stanford housing and BMR housing. But you're just concerned about Ohlone. Who is it all about?


Posted by Craig Laughton
a resident of College Terrace
on Aug 17, 2015 at 7:14 pm

Long past time to eliminate all the boutique programs...just go back to neighborhood schools. Better yet, demand educational vouchers (scholarships) and thus promote parental choice. MI and SI are disasters on so many levels, but it took naïve parents to buy into it...now they are paying the price.


Posted by OPar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 17, 2015 at 8:54 pm

MI,

I don't have to poll MI parents--I was there when PACE pushed MI into the district and I've watched MI parents scurry down to the school board any time it's been suggested that the program move. It's a matter of public record. Not every single MI parent is like that, but a large chunk of them--including you, are. So enough with with the sniping--just own it.

I'm not simply concerned about Ohlone. I'm interested in smaller schools and distributing students with the least amount of pain. So, I favor moving around the two choice immersion programs because it means not rezoning neighborhood-school draw areas. Making it possible to expand Ohlone-main by a half-strand means more families will have that option (since there's a long waitlist)--and, since unlike immersion programs, students can come into Ohlone-main at a higher grade, it creates more flexibility within the district.

The families able to take a choice spot then leave an opening for a family at, say, Palos Verde, who really wants their kids at the neighborhood school instead of trying to cross town to Juana Briones mid-commute.

So my feeling is that we should make it easier for neighborhood kids to attend their neighborhood schools by making choice programs more available to those who want them and, thus, free up spots. Easiest way to do that is move MI and SI to their own space, expanding Ohlone-main to a full four strands and expanding MI or SI at another location.

So is it good for the district to keep MI at Ohlone making it impossible for Ohlone-main to expand to meet the demands for its program? No.


Posted by Fred
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 17, 2015 at 9:20 pm

What about splitting Ohlone up, and having that type of program in each cluster, two strands per school? That would increase availability of the program (up to six strands), reduce significantly the amount of driving required, and probably would end up increasing demand, since the program would be available near many more neighborhoods. It would also return significant capacity to the current Ohlone neighborhood, including overcrowded Palo Verde.

There would be some sacrifice, since it would not be a "whole school" program. But perhaps its example would positively influence other non-Ohlone programs. Also, unless the program goes beyond the campus, it will be impossible for it to expand without make a large school even larger.


Posted by MI Ohlone Parent
a resident of Ohlone School
on Aug 17, 2015 at 9:38 pm

I haven't scurried to the board ever, but I'm glad you think you know me! It's sort of funny to look at the Ohlone way (Web Link in case you haven't read it in a bit) and see the bit about trust and respect. It's the first bullet. I presented my views, and you immediately pegged me as "one of those pesky MI parents who aren't like anybody else I want to "hang with" who ruined my school". There's other items in that document about tolerance and compassion and respecting different points of view. Much of what drew us to Ohlone is that collaborative aspect of the curriculum. If MI is split out of Ohlone I hope we get the option to transfer to the English program, because I'm a huge fan of the approach.

You're in favor of moving the two immersion programs. Opening up another choice program accomplishes almost the same thing. Even opening up another Ohlone way program at another site. That's far more carrot than your decidedly more stick-ish "get the MI program out of my school" idea. And you only get to isolate the immersion programs once. The next school you add (and it's going to happen soon) is going to require some other approach.


Posted by Move All Elementary Choice Programs
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 17, 2015 at 9:44 pm

Ohlone used to be a neighborhood school for the families that lived nearby. I know, because I went there when it was just the neighborhood school. All choice programs, project-based (which is great), MI, SI, and whatever comes next, should be at a single "choice" campus. Forcing neighborhood kids to travel further to elementary school, because their local school has been taken over by a choice program, is wrong.

I'm all for beneficial choice programs (though I would vote to eliminate immersion programs if it meant ALL elementary students received daily, quality foreign-language instruction), but these elementary programs should find a home that does not impact the "regular" local population.


Posted by another parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 17, 2015 at 9:51 pm

OPar,
Juana Briones is not an overflow school anymore and hasn't been for a long time.


Posted by OPar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 18, 2015 at 12:34 am

MI Parent,

It sounds like you don't know the political history of your own program. I suggest you enlighten yourself. MI bumped the approved expansion of Ohlone-main, which had and continues to have a large waiting list. How did it do so? By PACE threatening a charter school--so the board caved.

So, spare me the quotes from Ohlone's Web site--MI was forced on the district with no consideration or respect for others and its presence at Ohlone (which was meant to be for a three-year-long trial period) helped open the way for our oversized elementaries.

The MI crowd has a history of entitlement--and your words put you right in line with that. And there isn't another choice program that's in the offing, nor is one desired. Moving the two immersion programs would create a school that lessens the pressure on other schools without requiring neighborhood school draw areas to be redrawn.

As for an option to join the main program--yes, you'd probably get that. Kids who drop from MI have been able to drop into the main program, even though it was specified early on that this would not happen. (We all knew that it would.)

It's odd, though, when MI parents such as yourself resist any talk of being spun off you sound a bit scared--like you don't think the problem can stand on its own two feet. Oh, and when you talk about being part of the Ohlone community, I'll just remind you, immersion means that your kid will never be in the same class as any kid in the main program. Kind of limits the warm and fuzzy.

Fred,

There's been some talk of spreading out Ohlone-style among the schools, but I think that's easier said than done. Project-based learning programs are fairly tricky to administer--it sounds wonderful and it can be, but a fair number of the programs tend to fall apart. Also, with the Ohlone model, at least, you need serious parental support. So if a school's parents are for it, then yes--I just don't know if the majority of Palo Alto parents at most schools actually want an Ohlone--it's always felt more like a sizeable minority in the district. The district could probably handle two Ohlone-style schools, but strands across the neighborhood schools? That sounds like a juggling act and I just don't know that the demand is there.

Seriously, moving the immersion programs to Greendell would be a lot simpler and wouldn't involve trying to create multiple farms.

Move All,

Ohlone exists because Palo Alto closed one-third of its elementary schools. Ohlone's founders took the opportunity to try out a different kind of school. It didn't usurp a neighborhood school--if, anything, it probably kept a school site from being torn down or rented out to a private school. The district now owns three elementary sites that it doesn't use as elementary school sites and the city owns one (Ventura).

Choice schools aren't the problem--the district's unwillingness to convert one of its three elementary sites back into an elementary school is one problem; deeding over a chunk of a school to an immersion program is another problem--SI at Escondido should not bump neighborhood kids, but it has.

Which is one of the reasons I'm for moving SI and MI to their own site. Those kids have to go somewhere--so why not a site that's suited for commuting and not being used as a neighborhood school?

Another--thanks for the update--but I wouldn't say "long time"--there's flux and Palo Verde continues to feel the impact of the city approving a lot of housing in the south without figuring out what to do about school growth.


Posted by Move All Elementary Choice Programs
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 18, 2015 at 7:12 am

OPar:

Incorrect. The physical school site that is now Ohlone used to be a regular neighborhood school, called Elizabeth Van Auken. Like I said, I went to school there. I know of other schools that were closed, like Ortega (not sure if I have the name right) that is now a housing development next to Seal Park, and Garland, that became the International School.

The school named Ohlone used to be a different physical location (Hoover?) but the current site was Elizabeth Van Auken.

I don't normally use Wikipedia as a certain source of fact, but this summary looks pretty accurate to me. Web Link

Here's photos of the school after we painted murals on all the walls. Web Link


Posted by FormerOParent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 18, 2015 at 8:06 am

OPar,

I'm not trying to play the "race" card, but I will again point out disturbing racialized language. When you write, "I've watched MI parents scurry down to the school board any time it's been suggested that the program move," your word choice--partly for historical reasons--is disturbing.

A word like "scurry" tends to be condescending when used to describe human beings--in fact, can be dehumanizing. The word is often, but not always, used to describe the movement of rodents and insects. The Nazis described the Jews as rodents, vermin. Virtually all ethnic groups--Native American, African American, Latino/a, Asian American--have been described in dehumanized, pestilential terms at some point in history.

I agree with the MI parent who finds some of the language and attitudes used by some Ohlone proponents as out-of-step with the values of Ohlone.




Posted by Fred
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 18, 2015 at 8:43 am

There's no doubt that Ohlone's choice program bumps neighborhood kids into overflow situations. Just look at the map on the size of the Palo Verde district and the overflow #'s of PV students. It's a reality. Every choice has costs, and one of the costs of Ohlone as a choice program school is less neighborhood school capacity.

My guess is that you could have six Ohlone strands spread across three schools (one per cluster) and absorb most of the demand, while returning 2/3 of the Ohlone campus to the neighborhood.


Posted by Move the immersion programs to Greendale
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Aug 18, 2015 at 8:48 am

I totally agree that both immersion programs should move to one site. That would free up space at Escondido for the new Stanford housing being built off Cal Ave and free up space for the Palo Verde area students to attend a nearby school.

I also think the District should reclaim Garland (Stratford) school and use it as a part of Jordan as a 6th grade only space.


Posted by Fred
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 18, 2015 at 9:26 am

I'm curious - if Greendell was used for choice programs, where would the current programs there go - Young 5's, Transitional Kindergarten, Preschool Family, SPED pre-school, and Adult Ed? Is Greendell big enough for MI + SI (400 kids per the enrollment report)?


Posted by OPar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 18, 2015 at 10:47 am

Move All,

Yes, all the school sites were once neighborhood schools, but there was a mass shut-down of elementaries and Ohlone (yes, it was originally at the Hoover site) took over a site, not an active school. Both Ohlone and Hoover differ from the immersion programs that way, which came into being after the big school closures and were located at already functioning schools.

FormerOP,

Of course you are--now you're trying to be offended by the word "scurry". There's also the curious underlying notion you're pushing that MI parents are Asian and Ohlone-main parents are white. Not correct. (Indeed, if you really want to get into it, I'll point out that immersion programs have a problem with exclusionism--kids whose parents are neither native English nor Mandarin speakers are pretty much not in the program. Ohlone-main is substantially *more* diverse. Some of the strongest objections to MI were by parents from abroad. Tell you what, since you're concerned about diversity, push for a French MI program--you can recruit the Canadians then.) It beats, I suppose, having to actually make a logical argument as to why MI belongs at Ohlone. We all know it was shoehorned in there because Ohlone had one of the largest campuses and Susan Charles was willing. Of course, she sold it to the Ohlone site council as something that would leave after three years. Ohlone, in turn, would get the new building for its own program expansion.

Fred, sorry, but no. That's not how Ohlone works--one of the reasons MI is a bit of an issue (besides size) is that Ohlone works across strands and grades as a unit. The community aspect is very important--should be apparent to you from my bickering with the MI parent. It's kind of funny, they just find the Ohlone atmosphere too appealing to want to leave even if it means a school dedicated to language immersion. As for displacement--keep in mind ALL the kids in all the choice programs will go somewhere. You don't have a 600-kid overflow from Verde or El Carmelo. Shut down choice programs and all you do is guarantee that more kids will be involuntarily shunted from their neighborhood school. Keep in mind, also, that it's not one location that is oversubscribed--the schools with overflow problems change.

The problem, once again, is not Ohlone or Hoover's existence, it's that the city approved a bunch of housing in the south (and now west) and did zero in terms of anticipating growth in the schools. It had an opportunity (and got the bond funding to upgrade) Green Gables and used a one-year drop in enrollment (post 2008) to renew the private-school lease. The JCC left half of Greendell and the district didn't open an elementary, but instead expanded the Young Fives program.

Our board has repeatedly shown a preference for big buildings and mega-schools over reopening campuses that it owns precisely to deal with increased enrollments.

As for where Young Fives and Preschool Family would go--there are some options. Young Fives could move to other sites in Cubberley or move in with PACC at the Ventura site. Ventura is underused as it is now and, since it's owned by the city, not the district, would be the last school site that would be converted back to an elementary school. (Though I think it's a better site for that purpose than is Palo Alto Hills--though that's a beautiful site and in better condition.)

Young Fives could also go there, but what I would rather see with Young Fives is a distribution of Young Fives programs across the district--the portables used for afterschool care on the campuses would be used as Young Five sites in the morning on the more crowded campuses and in their own classrooms at the less-crowded ones.
Since Young Fives only takes a couple of classrooms, however, it could also probably stay at Greendell.

A parents/citizen advisory committee did, by the way, recommend a few years ago that the immersion programs be moved to the Greendell site (while keeping the other two programs there.) Some MI parents immediately ran down to the school board and objected and moaned that MI would fail if it were moved (like I said, there's this weird insecurity MI parents have).

I've yet to read of any Ohlone-main parents going down to the board and begging for MI to stay at Ohlone. It's a one-sided love affair, but most Ohlone-main parents are way too nice to say anything to an MI parent about it.


Posted by OPar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 18, 2015 at 10:51 am

Oops, that should be Preschool Family that could move into Cubberly or the Ventura site, not Young Fives, though it could do that as well.


Posted by Paly Alum 1981
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Aug 18, 2015 at 12:32 pm

We are in a crisis here. We should eliminate all choice programs and eliminate VTP. All of it is extra driving which is aggravating traffic. There is no reason PAUSD needs to offer any - people will still buy houses here for the schools. Those were only created when there weren't enough students to fill our schools.

They should also follow any leads on families who are cheating and do not live in Palo Alto, because there are many. People can report anonymously if someone is cheating:

From PAUSD website: "If, at any time, a student's residence is in question, PAUSD will investigate. The District may ask for additional documents for verification. If a student is not living within the PAUSD boundaries full time, or if a student's living arrangements do not agree with statements provided by a parent or legal guardian, the student will be excluded from attending schools in the Palo Alto Unified School District.

If you have any questions, please contact the registration office at [email protected] or (650) 329-3707.

Residency Hotline

Leave a confidential message for Palo Alto Unified School District's Residency Officer regarding a possible residency violation at (650) 329-3955 or submit the form below."

Web Link


Posted by Paly Alum 1981
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Aug 18, 2015 at 12:35 pm

From PAUSD website: "Students who attend school in Palo Alto Unified School District (PAUSD) must reside within its boundaries on a full-time permanent basis, that is, seven days and seven nights."

Web Link


Posted by Fred
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 18, 2015 at 3:27 pm

@OPar - I guess that's how Ohlone works today. But it could work differently in the future. If there were two strands at a school, it could still work "across strands and across grades," regardless of where the program is housed. I'm sure a successful program like the Ohlone Way is not simply a product of its site.

Actually the 13th Elementary task force in 2013 recommended adding Greendell as a hybrid neighborhood / choice school, with no specific recommendation on what choice program might go there. Looking at their report, they suggested a "soft opening" to leave time to transition other programs to new sites (though not saying what they would be). They also were assuming Greendell would be combined with 525 San Antonio - so effectively that a new four-strand school would be built there.

FWIW, your digs at the MI community detract from your otherwise good points and suggestions. But to each her own.


Posted by Jenifer
a resident of College Terrace
on Aug 18, 2015 at 3:39 pm

"Long past time to eliminate all the boutique programs...just go back to neighborhood schools."

I think Craig Laughton has it exactly right. We have allowed our school system, long based on neighborhood schools, to be usurped by specialty programs. It is time to go back to the future: NEIGHBORHOOS SCHOOLS!


Posted by Ohlone Parent
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Aug 18, 2015 at 5:19 pm

Great discussion, awesome.

I agree with one recent comment here: Ohlone Main parents are too nice to tell the MI parents that they really would like to have the two programs separated and return Ohlone Main to its original 1 program 1 community form.
That is complete accurate.

Ohlone is a very parent volunteering intensive program. Parents who have opted into the main Ohlone program seem to understand this a lot better than the MI parents do.

My experience is that there is a very active and hardworking large group of Ohlone Main parents who do big programs and projects for the benefit of the entire school. This includes the auction, the harvest festival, the school play, farmers market, the farm, traffic committee, the vast majority of PTA, PIE and Site council posts, and the list goes on. There is a small, mostly caucasian group of Ohlone MI parents who do a very few programs that are for the entire school. This includes Lunar New Year parade (ironic), and well, that's it. This is completely known to nearly the entire Ohlone Main parent population and it is a huge problem in terms of the feeling of community.

There is help in the MI community at Ohlone for their own child's classroom. Me me me. Most do not volunteer on school wide programs. This is often provided by parents or grandparents. Many do not speak English, and don't meet or mix with parents from the Main program.

Many of the children who are in the MI program attend Chinese School in the afternoons. I find this offensive. If your child is in MI that should be enough. Ohlone professes a child centric philosophy. Sending your child to several hours of additional school is anti- that philosophy. Sending your child to Chinese school as an alternative to child care, further shows the under involvement of the parents. Don't jump on me for this back a knock against parents who work. I'm just saying that this was an OPT IN program whereby parent involvement is fundamentally necessary. If you can't involve. Please don't apply. The district can not legally require parent involvement for the choice programs, but they have instructed Ohlone how they can make it abundantly clear without legally requiring it that this is the expectation.

Bottom line: Ohlone Overall can not maintain its core design intention with a huge part of the population who do not help enough as volunteers for the entire school , support the philosophy, provide a safe playground (our playground was designed for 250-350 children. we have more than 600), etc etc (see others comments above.

Regarding Trust: The Ohlone parent group was sold a promise that the MI program would stay for three years. This has not been honored by the school board or district. Bait and switch. UNFAIR.


Posted by WilliamR
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Aug 18, 2015 at 6:17 pm

A couple of years ago, didn't the District buy a property on San Antonio Road that was used by a day care center or preschool? Do they still own that parcel, and what is its status or future plans? Just wondering, since there has been a lot of talk about reopening the Greendell facility.


Posted by OPar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 18, 2015 at 10:10 pm

Ohlone Parent,

Thanks for speaking up. As I said in another thread, the MI/Ohlone-main relationship is a one-sided love affair. The MI community reaps the benefits of being at a school with a strong parent-volunteer group, but most of them do not pull their weight. This is their choice, but the MI program has always taken away more from Ohlone than it's given.

Fred,

Ohlone, before MI, was a kind of magic place--sort of a perfect school in its way. It's not a case of a couple of strands here and there and that's pretty clear to anyone who knows Ohlone. You really had a case of parents, teachers and the administration who all share a view of what an education should be. It creates a very particular environment. (And the Farm is a core part of that, by the way.)

It was also pretty clear back in 2013 that the hybrid school would include Mandarin Immersion--and down to the board scurried the MI parents to prevent this from happening. If I sound a little sharp about MI parents, there's a reason. MI has not been good for Ohlone and the MI parent community as a whole has a huge sense of entitlement.


Posted by Fred
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 18, 2015 at 11:31 pm

@OPar, well, at least your are candid about your views ;-) Ohlone used to be perfect (so any changes could only spoil it), and MI parents are entitled scurriers. Check and check. Given the significant un-met demand for the Ohlone Way, it seems like additional strands in other clusters makes a lot of sense. It may not be as "magical" as before, but it might nevertheless be pretty good.

@WilliamR - the 525 San Antonio site is on short-term lease pending figuring out if/how it is needed. Greendell currently is used for various pre-school and adult programs. Most plans to put many kids "at Greendell" presume combining the 525 San Antonio and Greendell sites and essentially building a new school there. There are no plans to do that at this time that I'm aware of.


Posted by WilliamR
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Aug 18, 2015 at 11:35 pm

@ Fred,

Thanks for the update on the San Antonio site.


Posted by OPar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 19, 2015 at 2:19 pm

No, Fred--it's not the case that it couldn't change. Please quit with the reductionism.

The problem is that the school's too damn big and running two programs with separate needs stretches the school administration thin and adversely impacts the school as a whole. Since I saw what it did to Ohlone, I can speak with some feeling about it. *However* I expect smashing in an extra program and rapidly increasing the student body at *any* elementary would be a net negative.

I said earlier that project-based programs are difficult to administer--that's one of the big reasons they're not all over the place. You need a staff and a community that is all on the same page--that's part of the big volunteerism ethic at Ohlone and why there used to be more screening of lottery applicants--though I completely understand the objections to it, since Ohlone's a public school--a certain kind of coordination is needed. You don't just plonk down a project-based strand at a school and expect it to work. Direct instruction (Hoover) is actually a lot more reliable that way--one of the reasons that DI charters succeed in poor communities. DI provides a lot of overt structure. Structure in project-based environments is less direct and takes a certain kind of behind-the-scenes planning and commitment from the adults.

Thus, my proposal that MI be moved to Greendell--Ohlone could then expand a half strand and be a four-strand school. This would reduce the waitlist and a choice program at Greendell would create some flexibility for the south cluster. Put in SI and you have a reasonably efficient use of space without taking families away from their neighborhood school.

Elementary schools of any stripe shouldn't be 600-plus kids. It's that simple. If I were an MIer, I'd actually push to open Greendell and get a strand or two. The program could be quite a bit stronger--another Ohlone parent mentions kids attending afterschool Chinese programs. I didn't know that was widespread, but a family I know that's done that does so because the program's not strong enough on the literacy side. (Makes you wonder about the effect of extracurricular language classes on MI's recently vaunted amazing results.) As I've said, the timidity's a little surprising.


Posted by Craig Laughton
a resident of College Terrace
on Aug 19, 2015 at 4:04 pm

>The problem is that the school's too damn big and running two programs with separate needs stretches the school administration thin and adversely impacts the school as a whole.

@ OPar: Welcome to reality. It happened to us at Escondido...Spanish Immersion (SI). We used to have a nice neighborhood school...no more. Looks like you are getting a taste of the cost of the boutique school programs. The solution is to go back to neighborhood schools, only, but backed up by school vouchers, for those parents who insist on their own boutique choices.


Don't miss out on the discussion!
Sign up to be notified of new comments on this topic.

Email:


Post a comment

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

Stay informed.

Get the day's top headlines from Palo Alto Online sent to your inbox in the Express newsletter.

New sushi restaurant and steakhouse coming to Palo Alto in 2023
By The Peninsula Foodist | 5 comments | 2,747 views

Local Flavor– Highland Noodles and Aurum
By Laura Stec | 0 comments | 2,188 views

What Do You Get Out of Being Stubborn?
By Chandrama Anderson | 0 comments | 1,162 views