Ravenswood to shutter two schools

Larger classes, furlough days on tap for Ravenswood school district

Kids will have a shorter school year and bigger classes as East Palo Alto's Ravenswood City School District adjusts to state budget realities.

Two of Ravenswood's eight campuses will not re-open this fall as the K-8 district serving 3,900 children in East Palo Alto and Menlo Park looks to save on administrative and maintenance costs.

Parents will hear about specific school closures in letters next week, officials said.

Superintendent Maria de la Vega repeatedly has warned that "consolidations" will be necessary, but the affected schools have not been officially announced.

One official said that Flood and Brentwood schools will be "merged" and Cesar Chavez will merge with Green Oaks.

In a budget session Thursday night, June 16, trustees brainstormed for revenue-generating schemes -- one suggested selling advertising space on the inside of school buses and on playing fields.

Several trustees asked whether they could eliminate the transportation program entirely. But because of federal requirements for transport for special-education students -- as well as state funding available for transportation -- it would cost more to keep the buses for special education alone than to continue the current program, the district business manager said.

Already, the board has voted to eliminate the district's entire technology staff, though several trustees said Thursday they want to reconsider that decision.

The district's library staff also is on the chopping block.

The board will make a final vote on the job cuts -- and the district's 2011-12 budget -- on Thursday, June 23.

Nearly half of Ravenswood's $39 million budget comes from restricted federal and state grants targeted specifically to address things like poverty, special education, school improvement, migrant education and English-language learners.

About 80 percent of Ravenswood students are considered low-income under government guidelines, 61 percent are English language learners, and 30 percent each year are new enrollees, according to the Ravenswood Education Foundation.

Business Manager Megan Curtis has proposed cutting $3.2 million in the unrestricted budget mainly through class size increases, furlough days and school closures.

K-3 class size this fall will go from 20 to nearly 25. In grades four through eight, class size will rise from 29 to 31.

The bigger classes will save the district more than $1 million and reduce total classrooms in the district by 21 to 24, Coleman said. The teaching positions will be lost by attrition, officials said.

Five furlough days -- reducing the school year from 185 to 180 days -- will save $287,000, Coleman said.

By closing two schools, Coleman said the district will save $320,000 in principal and office manager salaries and an additional $100,000 in operation and utilities savings.

"We need to think about ways to generate revenue from the empty campuses," Board Chair Sharifa Wilson said.

Though it is still a low-performing district, test scores in Ravenswood have inched up in recent years, and voters in May narrowly gave two-thirds approval to renew and increase a parcel tax, which will cost property owners $196 per parcel per year.


Like this comment
Posted by Palo Alto
a resident of another community
on Jun 17, 2011 at 11:16 am

The best solution------------Consolidate with the Palo Alto Unified School District. Been talked about for a long long time. Time is now.

Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jun 17, 2011 at 11:43 am

This topic needs to be linked to the comments already posted on another Forum topic:

Web Link

There is no way that responsible citizens can allowing the continuing disparity of educational opportunity for the children in the Ravenswood school district vs that of the surrounding elementary school districts.

Like this comment
Posted by details
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Jun 17, 2011 at 11:53 am

Palo Alto and East Palo Alto are not in the same county.

Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jun 17, 2011 at 12:08 pm

There is no legal reason that a school or special district cannot cross county lines - although there are a lot of politicians with a narrow view who think otherwise, but not for legal reasons.

I have proposed a fire district that includes northern Santa Clara County and southern San Mateo County.

Web Link

Like this comment
Posted by Ms. Watkins
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Jun 18, 2011 at 11:30 pm

I can't believe Menlo Park is turning its back on the Belle Haven Community once again! It's time, no it's past time for the citywide community to stand up and demand more from our City Government! Come on city entry signage instead of books for kids, what's wrong with this picture?

Same post at the TownSquare Forum - because I am upset!!!!

Like this comment
Posted by MJK
a resident of Atherton: other
on Jun 19, 2011 at 10:28 am

to Ms. Watkins

Yes, it does seem wrong. Have you written your city council? You can email them individually and as a group. You can go to a City Council meeting and speak up. You can get together friends and neighbors to speak up as well. That's at least doing something proactive and give visibility to the situation and maybe some change.

Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jun 19, 2011 at 11:35 am

"I can't believe Menlo Park is turning its back on the Belle Haven Community once again!"

The best way to deal with this divide is to simply remove it. All of the local elementary school districts should be consolidated into one with the objective of giving every child the same educational opportunity.

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