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Residents denied appeal to change school districts

Original post made on Jan 29, 2012

Woodside residents who wanted to have their two streets on the edge of Menlo Park and Redwood City transferred from the Redwood City School District to the Las Lomitas Elementary School District have had their final appeal denied and will have to stay put.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Wednesday, November 30, 2011, 12:00 AM

Comments (43)

Posted by Sharon, a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Jan 29, 2012 at 1:28 am

Note the statement below has no mention of doing the right thing or the kids. Sounds like a desperate district trying to survive...Mr. Kirst sees no compelling reason but will he send his grandkids to RWSD?

"From the beginning, the district's primary concern has been the cumulative effect of subsequent transfers should this transfer set a precedent for their neighborhoods."


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jan 29, 2012 at 8:02 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"From the beginning, the district's primary concern has been the cumulative effect of subsequent transfers should this transfer set a precedent for their neighborhoods."


Sounds like a perfect clarion call to concerned parents to start a charter school.


Posted by J, a resident of another community
on Jan 30, 2012 at 12:06 am

GreenwaysAcademy.com a nice alternative to the "underfunded" and "overcrowded" districts.

None of this matters when once the IPO comes....:)


Posted by A Parent, a resident of another community
on Jan 30, 2012 at 4:40 pm

These parents have no interest in starting a charter school. Their children already attend private school. Their primary interest had nothing to do with children and many of the residents who signed the original petition didn't even have children. It was all about raising their own property values by moving their homes into the wealthier neighboring school district.

The distance between their street and the two nearest elementary schools (one in the Las Lomitas District and one in the RWC District) was negligible and their assigned school was actually a safer walk than the Las Lomitas school they wanted their children to attend.

I am so very tired of wealthy, college educated, upwardly mobile residents of Menlo Park and Atherton working so hard to keep their kids from going to school with the lower socio-economic kids in Redwood City. What happened to the promise of a free high quality public education for everyone? It's folks like the petitioners who should be fighting for better public schools for everyone instead of abandoning the rest of their community. They bought homes in the Redwood City School District. Those homes have always been in the Redwood City School District. If they wanted to live in the Las Lomitas School District, why didn't they move there in the first place?

Folks who actually care about children care about all children, not just their own, and care about and work towards a quality education for all children, regardless of socio-economic status.

I, for one, am thrilled that the State Board of Education said, "no."


Posted by Menlo Voter, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jan 30, 2012 at 7:11 pm

Those who are truly interested in quality education for all children would be demanding consolidation of the miriad school districts. Won't happen in this area because Menlo Park parents don't want any of their tax money going anywhere outside of the city to pay for anyone elses education. Correction, they don't want any of it going to the poor areas of their own city - Ravenswood.


Posted by J, a resident of another community
on Jan 31, 2012 at 5:57 am

Consolidation is good, at least their are options for everyone, so agree with Menlo Voter.

The other poster sounds out of touch like the rest of CA school admins and state ran boards. That's why it's so broken. You need to vote those who want to fix things not just spread the wealth with some ideology. Like I said, when the IPO comes no one really cares about school district lines. Maybe the state or parcel taxes can bail these school districts out and their foundations like they have in the past. But I doubt it this time around, times of "you eat what you kill" are coming.


Posted by A Parent, a resident of another community
on Jan 31, 2012 at 10:10 am

J:

Very knowledgeable about CA school admins and state run boards. Agree that there are systemic problems. My basic point is that the very folks who should be rolling up their sleeves and solving them are waving them off with "Not my problem" and sending their children to private school and trying to get their street moved into a wealthier district. Take responsibility. I did. They can, too.


Posted by POGO, a resident of Woodside: other
on Jan 31, 2012 at 10:26 am

A Parent -

You make very good points and I can't disagree with you. But I would say that the school district system is very biased and very rigged - almost always preserving the status quo (often to the detriment of the poorest districts). Just ask EPA.

In this case, it's not a complicated calculation at all. The Redwood City School District wants the tremendous amount of tax revenues paid by these parcels knowing full well that they won't have to spend a dime to educate any of their children.


Posted by A Parent, a resident of another community
on Jan 31, 2012 at 11:17 am

Pogo:

Actually, RWCSD wants the students who live on those streets to attend their schools. RWCSD is a revenue limit district. Their funding is based on the number of students, not the value of the properties. Las Lomitas is a Basic Aid District. Their funding is actually based on the value of properties because the property taxes they collect, as a wealthy district, are greater than what they would receive in the per-student formula. They actually did not want the students from those streets because they are overcrowded.

Your post makes some pretty cynical assumptions about the motivations of educators. The districts with more low socio-economic students have less parent participation and lower test scores. Wealthy parents look at those test scores and think that their students won't get a good education there (which is actually not true - if they looked at the test scores of the children of their socio-economic and educated peers, they'd find that those kids are doing great and getting into top schools.) This leads to "white flight" (although it has nothing to do with race and everything to do with socio-economic status.) Which reduces test scores. Etc., etc.

We can change this by engaging with our local school districts, demanding change, demanding high academic standards. But when the best educated, most wealthy parents - the ones with the most means to change the system simply walk away from the system, that is my quibble.

I'm a Stanford graduate with a master's degree and own my own company. I have spent the last 20 years working very hard to improve my local public schools. Poverty, bureaucracy, a deeply flawed system of taxation and governmental gridlock are part of the problem. But so is the willingness of so many of my peers to simply walk away from the problem.

I have the utmost respect for those who stay in the system and work hard to improve it. The people who walk way are not going to reform public education, they have just abandoned it as "someone else's problem."

Thus endeth my sermon for today;-)


Posted by Donovan, a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Jan 31, 2012 at 4:08 pm

I am a recent hire at a local school district, and I came from Emeryville USD. You wouldn't know it by the test scores, but you could get an excellent education at EUSD.
California school curriculum is SO managed by the state, down to the day, of what the students are taught. What they are being taught does not really differ from district to district, or in different socio-economic classes.
As a parent, if your student is doing poorly, you need to look at yourself, are you putting the emphasis on education? Do you let your children know how important it is? Do you make sure they are doing their homework and behaving properly in class? If not, you are most likely to blame for poor student performance.
The school admins and staff can't make your children learn. All they can do is present the information and hope that the children want to learn.
And it's not due to staff that doesn't care. Cause I'll tell ya, no one works for the public school system cause it pays well, or is highly prestigious, or it's the only job they could find. You end up with people who want to be here and believe in education.


Posted by POGO, a resident of Woodside: other
on Jan 31, 2012 at 8:05 pm

A Parent -

All good points and I acknowledge my error in thinking the RWCSD was a basic aid district. I knew it was a revenue limit district but forgot.

I admire and thank you for your considerable efforts to improve our schools!


Posted by Parent B, a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Feb 1, 2012 at 8:45 am

A Parent,

Where are your kids enrolled? I wish I can give my kids spots up to these families looking to go to Las Lomitas. I pulled my kids out last year since it was not a good fit. Lots of good private school options locally but it's a bad economy not everyone can afford it. My husband has a stable executive job so we are lucky but we know people who are doing their best to find a good public school option.

A


Posted by Rosemary, a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Feb 1, 2012 at 9:09 am

To Donovan's point, I quickly realized my kids couldn't learn in an environment where 90% of the students don't speak English. CA schools have been fat for a long time and now there is no money left to pay for everyone who is not contributing. Big tax payers are not the majority voters in CA, the gap keeps growing and resentment grows. I tell my friends moving to the bay area to check the schools and don't go with what the agent says. Don't make that mistake because it will cost you.


Posted by A Parent, a resident of another community
on Feb 1, 2012 at 9:28 am

Parent B:

It is a small world, so I'm not going to reveal where I live, however I can say that I learned over the schooling life of my children, that when there was a problem at school, either it was resolved within one year by the change to a different class/teacher, or it was a long term problem that resided with the child, not the school.

I obviously don't know your children's specific circumstances, nor you mine, but in the long run, I found that specific academic or social problems for specific students endured regardless of where they went to school. And students who were good students, continued to be so regardless of where they went to school.

This is based on my own experience over 4 children who have made it nearly all the way through the system, now.

Private schools are not a panacea and some of the most prestigious can be very toxic. That was my experience, anyway. I'd rather invest in my local public schools and help to build my community, while at the same time instilling in my children a sense of responsibility to and for their neighbors.

And to Rosemary - there are no schools anywhere near Sharon Heights where 90% of the kids don't speak English, last time I checked.


Posted by Member, a resident of another community
on Feb 1, 2012 at 8:16 pm

Our son went to a low-income population RWC school. He is now at a SHSD high school, will graduate a valedictorian and is applying to MIT, Stanford, etc. It is all about parental involvement. RWC schools did not harm him. In fact, I think they made him a better person because he knows about other cultures, diversity, etc.


Posted by Adminstrator A, a resident of another community
on Feb 1, 2012 at 8:54 pm

How ever you rationalize it, CA public schools spend the least in the country except for a few basic aide districts. Even those need alot of parent involvment and giving, just to be par. Of course parents involvment and the child's attitude is important, but lets face it, CA prop 13 keeps the seniors around but there are only so many people who can sustain the higher taxes. If they want to really fix things they would give those people paying the higher taxes options too. They are the ones you need to keep happy since they have the most potential to give and pay the taxes to keep the schools going. You all talk about how great RWCSD is but you all are in menlo park or a revenue limit school. Don't be a hypocrit.


Posted by Dad F, a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Feb 2, 2012 at 4:36 am

Engaging and demanding sounds like a gameplan. Let us know how it goes.

We can change this by engaging with our local school districts, demanding change, demanding high academic standards. But when the best educated, most wealthy parents - the ones with the most means to change the system simply walk away from the system, that is my quibble.

I'm a Stanford graduate with a master's degree and own my own company. I have spent the last 20 years working very hard to improve my local public schools. Poverty, bureaucracy, a deeply flawed system of taxation and governmental gridlock are part of the problem. But so is the willingness of so many of my peers to simply walk away from the problem.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Feb 2, 2012 at 8:11 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

It is time to solve two problems at once - unequal funding of school districts and poor performance.

Consolidate ALL the local school districts into a single district, have the same tax base for all of the schools, have the same standard of performance for all the schools, have one district wide school support foundation, establish magnet schools for special academic interests and permit transfer at will between any school in the district with each school funded on a per capita student basis.


Posted by Attentive mom, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Feb 2, 2012 at 2:24 pm

This has a long back story. The man behind the now-failed effort to shift school district boundaries is quite a wily guy (can't remember if he's an attorney but one would think so). He bought a modest house in a subdivision near WHS. It was an unincorporated county area with a mailing address of Redwood City. He figured he could get a great deal by buying in a somewhat over-looked neighborhood, and then pull some strings to upgrade the neighborhood, and, coincidentally, make a ton of money. Pretty smart.

His first step was to get the area established as part of the Woodside sphere-of-influence boundary, so that they can use Woodside as their address, instead of Redwood City. He got it done -- pretty impressive. And, by the way, Ka-ching! That's quite a few hundred thousand dollars more per house right away. Now he's got lots of neighborhood support for the next step in his plan.

Once he's upgraded his mailing address, he figures another way to increase his property value, at little cost to him, is to get the street upgraded to Las Lomitas. After all, Las Lomitas in recent years has ranked at the very top of California schools on the STAR tests. As the article quotes, getting shifted from Redwood City schools to Las Lomitas schools would add value of about $150,000 - PER bedroom! 4 bedroom house, that's an easy $600,000, for everybody in the neighborhood. (Wonder if any of this triggers a re-assessment, so that the county gets more money for the higher value services they're angling for??) Plus, of course, he and his neighbors could keep the cash they're paying for private school.

"Mr. Wily" came to a Las Lomitas school board meeting, and tried to pass himself off as just a concerned parent wanting the best education for his kids -- something we all want, right? He almost came off as Mr. Nice Guy, but he couldn't keep that oiliness from oozing out. Mr. Greedy Opportunist, really. I talked to him after the meeting, to suggest some strategies for getting into a Las Lomitas home: selling/buying, downsizing, renting, getting an apartment at Sharon Green, etc. You know, actually moving into the district, rather than having the district move to him. It was kinda cute watching him try to keep that nice guy mask on while juggling with his frustration that this woman just didn't get it. He wants to explain how smart he's being...but wait, he needs to show how much he cares about his kids' eductaion...but wait, that would mean actually paying attention to her irrelevant ideas about how to get into the district legally...but wait, the real point here is to win (steal?) a huge benefit for having been smart enough to buy a house in a neighborhood he can get upgraded, for almost free.

Too bad "Mr. Wily" was a bit too self-confident to do all the research. If he had, he would have been aware that the district was already in an uproar about whether increasing enrollment would mean they'd have to take back one of the two district properties that are currently leased to private schools. Aside from the gross unfairness of his profit-seeking plan, there just wasn't room. But there are only a few kids in the neighborhood, he protests! That's true, at the moment. But the older neighbors are starting to move out, and if the neighborhood shifts into a better school district, all those houses will be bought by parents with school-age kids. We're already seeing that age-related turnover in Sharon Heights and Ladera - and that's why there isn't enough room for all the kids in the district already. Maybe he could have pulled this off a decade ago, when enrollments were lower. But he came at about the worst time he could.

Another of his arguments is so bogus he has to be called on it: He wants his kids to go to school with their "friends from the neighborhood". Ward Way and Greenways Dr. don't really connect with each other, or any of the LL streets, to make a natural neighborhood. The next street in the LL district is Stockbridge, and those houses aren't the type where you run next door and ask if Jonny can come play street ball. The streets across the Alameda, Nassau Dr. and Inyo Place, would be a more natural neighborhood for Ward and Greenways, and they're already in the same Redwood City school district. But somehow, I don't think Mr. Wily really wants his kids playing with those lower-income, lower-educated, differently colored people, does he?

Other commenters have pointed out that being involved in your kid's school, volunteering, funding, etc. is how you get your kid a better education at a public school. So, Mr. Wily, work with your local schools, or move into the district you want to be in, but please give up on these games you've been playing to increase the value of your property at the cost of the public.


Posted by caring adult, a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Feb 2, 2012 at 3:29 pm

So we're back to the idea of consolidating school districts?

Providing the best education possible is still going to be affected by the help that can be found at home. The best education in the world would also be deficient if the student and student's family didn't value that education or lacked the resources to take advantage of it??

ANSWER?? Go volunteer at the Boys and Girls Club to help tutor these students from a very very early age. The gap is happening in the first few years of their educations.

Those wanted consolidation seriously think that making a HUGE district would empower parents more? Go take a look at the Los Angeles situation.

I'm all for equal funding. FUND the lower funded schools with MORE MONEY! Why in the world do Californian's believe that we can get by with less funding than any other state given that we have a higher cost of living and a more diverse population than any other any other state. We are responsible for UNDERFUNDING 10% of the American student population.

Can't get around Prop 13? Then let's scrap the property tax all together and move to income tax. Expecting incoming residents to pay for all our government needs is insane!


Posted by transportation??, a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Feb 2, 2012 at 3:34 pm

If we consolidated schools, how are students supposed to get to the schools that they would like to attend? We don't bus students now to get them to their current schools. The rich would certainly find a way. The poor would still be trapped. The public bus system does not provide the answer currently, unless we start the day much later. Students at M-A who were offered a late start, still have to get on public buses early in the morning to get to school where they wait for classes to start. They don't get to sleep as late as their school chums who either drive or catch a ride with their parents or a friend.


Posted by narnia, a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Feb 2, 2012 at 3:42 pm

The original petition said"The original petition said: "Our children should have the same opportunity to go to school with their friends and neighbors, thereby keeping the community whole"

well, why aren't the kids making friends with the other redwood City kids? I pass by RC mainly West Woodside road many times and see not much difference between housing, cars and appearance of the Redwood city residents and the two streets mentioned. " I really want my local taxes to go to my neighbors", would be the proper response to the original petition since it mirrors it. It keeps my community whole.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Feb 2, 2012 at 3:59 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"If we consolidated schools, how are students supposed to get to the schools that they would like to attend? We don't bus students now to get them to their current schools. "

In a consolidated system all of the schools except the magnet schools would offer the same curriculum and the same standards so students would attend the nearest school.
If students started exiting a particular school that would be a sure sign of quality problems. The small number of students attending the magnet schools would need to be provided with transportation.


Posted by narnia, a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Feb 2, 2012 at 6:31 pm

All the kids in my neighborhood who attend Las Lomitas are bused....
So, what else is new?


Posted by POGO, a resident of Woodside: other
on Feb 2, 2012 at 11:10 pm

Just two points.

1. Clearly, consolidation of school districts to conform to county lines would reduce bloated and duplicated bureaucracies. We have districts that are as small as ONE SCHOOL - certainly they don't need their own superintendents and staffing at the district level.

2. I'm SO tired of those parents telling us about their child who attended so-so schools and now applying to Harvard. We know full well that the top 5% do quite well in public schools. The top 5% are, almost by definition, able to ignore the distractions and focus on their work. Congratulations to your kid, but your experience is hardly representative.


Posted by Nothingbettertodo, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Feb 3, 2012 at 7:45 pm

With all do respect, who is Peter Carpenter ??


Posted by POGO, a resident of Woodside: other
on Feb 3, 2012 at 8:59 pm

It's "DUE" respect, not "DO" respect.

It's not particularly difficult to google his or anyone else's name.

Unless you have nothing better to do.


Posted by Pogoid, a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Feb 4, 2012 at 11:31 am

"Unless you have nothing better to do."

Unless you have SOMEthing better to do.

imho, it's all about a couple streets trying to increase their resale value after getting the RC school district discount when they bought.


Posted by POGO, a resident of Woodside: other
on Feb 4, 2012 at 12:56 pm

Pogoid -

Boy did you miss the point. Perhaps you didn't notice the person's pseudonym (that means fake name, by the way) to whom the comment was directed. Swing and a miss.

Your final sentence, however, not withstanding your grammar issues, was a solid single.


Posted by Pogoid, a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Feb 4, 2012 at 1:24 pm

* missed pseudonym - swing and a miss!

* grammar (ie.. is I learning?) - swing and a miss!!

* nailing the motivation - and it's a "solid single" to right!

1 for 3 = .333 batting average; which would put me in the Hall of Fame, right?

So, in other words... Is it time for pitchers and catchers to report yet? Clearly that would be "SOMEthing better to do" than read Peter yet again pontificate on every post under the sun - but I obviously missed the point.

Ahem.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Feb 4, 2012 at 1:28 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Pogoid - we look forward to some thoughtful contributions by you on the topic at hand.


Posted by Happy Times Ahead, a resident of Woodside: Woodside Heights
on Feb 4, 2012 at 2:50 pm

I was sad to see this did not get resolved or corrected. You have the economic problems that has caused a strain on resources and families. Everyone seems so desperate, I can relate as we spend alot of money on being in this area but the future looks bright. I wish the districts the best and hope they can find the funding they need to keep programs and schools open. I also wish the families who are striving to find the best education for their kids, it's the children's right. I believe parents want the best for their kids and schools policy people want the best for the system.

I use to work for a wealthy man when I was in high school. He built one of the largest pizza franchises in the world. He donated all his wealth a build a private school to serve underserved but not limited to need based. I was too young to understand but now I understand better. God bless him and you all.


Posted by Let's play ball , a resident of another community
on Feb 4, 2012 at 3:14 pm

Re Pogoid's comment: imho, it's all about a couple streets trying to increase their resale value after getting the RC school district discount when they bought.

imho, that's a home run.


Posted by PogoId, a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Feb 7, 2012 at 10:38 pm

My kids gets shuttled in to diversify the classroom. I gets the best of both worlds.


Posted by Attentive Dad, a resident of Woodside: Woodside Heights
on Feb 8, 2012 at 7:57 pm

I live in the neighborhood and can attest that unless you live in this area you have no idea and just speculating. A vacant lot on one of thise drives sold for 1.4M another home is on over an acre and valued at over 5M. Maybe these people are desperate like the rest of you for some built in premium for "great" schools but I can say that I live next door and I would would never send my kids to RWC schools or Woodside HS.


Posted by A Parent, a resident of another community
on Feb 9, 2012 at 4:04 pm

Dear "Attentive Dad":

I don't know why you would say that. I know a lot of really great kids who currently attend or have attended Woodside HS and RWC schools and a lot of very "attentive" parents who willingly send their children to their local public school district in RWC because they feel it is the right thing to do, both for their child AND for their community. I would turn the tables on your comment and say that, unless you actually have a student in those schools, you are just speculating about the quality of the education that you child would receive if they attended.

I think it comes down to your core values. If you feel a responsibility to your community, you support your local public schools and do everything you can to insure that your children AND your neighbors children can get the education that they need and deserve there. If you feel responsibility only to yourself, then why would you care about the quality of education available in your community?


Posted by Mom of 2, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Feb 14, 2012 at 12:45 pm

Redwood City Elementary 69% are classified as English Language Learners
Web Link

Woodside High school ~50% classified as English Learners

Web Link

My take as a parent is that the school needs to devote most of their resources to serving the needs of the majority of their students, and do it well. Since my children are not english language learners, it's not the best environment for their educational challenges/needs.

No amount of parental involvement on my part would overcome the schools needs to focus on teaching english as a second language.

In terms of priority, I need to serve my kids needs first, and my community second. I think it's a rare parent that would do otherwise.


Posted by Mom of 2, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Feb 14, 2012 at 2:18 pm

I also want to respond to this train of thought:
"The best education in the world would also be deficient if the student and student's family didn't value that education or lacked the resources to take advantage of it"

Most families in poverty care greatly about their children's education, but are heavily burdened by their circumstances. They may work 2 jobs and can't help with homework, maybe they go to night school, are single parents, have many kids and/or relatives that they need to care for, and frankly have to spend what little free time & energy they have on finding money for food, rent, avoiding violence, deportation, discrimination, disability or many other issues that have led them into poverty in the first place.

In Maslow's heirarchy of needs, food and shelter rightly come before education.

Saying they don't value education shows a lack of understanding of the realities of true poverty.


Posted by Scope, a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Feb 14, 2012 at 10:10 pm

I grew up in poverty (much poorer than those considered in poverty today) and studied hard to get an education. I can afford to send my kids to any school but considered the public education path. Unfortunately that option is undesirable so I move on. Yes, I will have paid millions in real estate taxes for the next few decades living here but what are my options? Some Menlo Park residences may say, I should move. Well, my home would fit on five of your lots. Bottom line is at some point people move on with their lives. My kids are very happy and doing great.


Posted by A Parent, a resident of another community
on Feb 21, 2012 at 4:01 pm

Dear "Mom of 2":

I'm sorry that you feel that your children cannot get a good education because of the percentage of English Language Learners. That has not been my experience. My 3 children attended a school district with over 50% English Language Learners, got an excellent education and are all currently successful college students. While your argument might sound logical, it ignores the inherent value in having your children attend school with those of different cultures and heritages and the value-added your child gets from the understanding that walking away from your own community is simply not one of your family's values. Your children will understand the value of education through your example and attitude. They will also understand your value of community through the same means...


Posted by Parent C, a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Feb 26, 2012 at 6:41 pm



Web Link


Posted by Sarah Capistrano, a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Feb 26, 2012 at 8:46 pm

Pogoid "imho, it's all about a couple streets trying to increase their resale value after getting the RC school district discount when they bought."

I also think that's a home run, but will defer to Pogo as a solid single.

Pogoid - P's and C's have reported - yippee! go Gigantes!

Ignore peter - your item was worth more than his post after post after post after post after post after post


Posted by Trip, a resident of Menlo Park: University Heights
on Feb 29, 2012 at 9:34 pm


Web Link


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