News

Belle Haven group launches petition to transfer school from Ravenswood district

 

Weekday mornings, Menlo Park's Belle Haven neighborhood bustles with outbound kids, says Belle Haven Neighborhood Association member Sheryl Bims.

Whether through the Tinsley Voluntary Transfer Program, private schools in the area, or homeschooling, many households in the neighborhood pursue alternatives to attending school in the Ravenswood City School District, she said.

She's a supporter of a petition formulated by the Belle Haven neighborhood association that is calling for the transfer of Belle Haven Elementary from the Ravenswood City School District. As of this week, the petition has received 67 online signatures and more hard-copy signatures.

The petition calls for the school, on Ivy Drive in Menlo Park's Belle Haven neighborhood, to be transferred to the Menlo Park City School District. If it cannot join that district, the petition states, a new district should be formed, which would include the city's Belle Haven neighborhood, the "M-2" area – where the city has zoned for up to 4,500 new housing units to be built – and Haven Avenue, where a combined 540 new apartments have been built.

The petition does not mention the other Menlo Park school in the Ravenswood City School District, Willow Oaks Elementary, at 620 Willow Road.

Neighborhood association president Rachel Bickerstaff summarized: "Too many Belle Haven families are forced to commute throughout the Peninsula on a daily basis because they cannot send their children to the local public schools."

She pointed to 2017 statewide testing results, contrasting outcomes between the Menlo Park City School District and the Ravenswood City School District. About 81 percent of the students in third through eighth grade in the Menlo Park district met or exceeded math standards, compared with 12.7 percent of the students in third through eighth grades in the Ravenswood district who met or exceeded math standards.

In addition to disparities between the school districts' test scores, Bims said, the school-day exodus of children from the neighborhood raises questions and concerns about the local public school offerings.

Recent tension between the community and the school district over the removal of Belle Haven Elementary School Principal Todd Gaviglio has heightened the neighborhood's concerns with district leadership, as has a "vote of no confidence" in district superintendent Gloria Hernandez-Goff by the district's teachers' union last spring.

Bims called the events "huge red flags." On April 4, nearly half of the students at Belle Haven Elementary boycotted the school in protest of the principal's removal.

"Whatever methodologies are in place aren't properly serving the community," Bims said. "It's time to start addressing the elephant in the neighborhood."

There have been three previous secessions of neighborhoods in Menlo Park from the Ravenswood City School District in the past several decades, transfer proponents said: Menlo Oaks, Suburban Park and the Willows. Those households took with them their property tax base into the Menlo Park City School District, which is considered a self-sustaining "basic aid" district that generates enough taxes per student to not rely on any state funding.

The Ravenswood district does rely on state funding because its property tax base is not sufficient to meet a certain per-student funding baseline.

Because of the difference in how the schools are funded, it's likely that the amount of the area's property tax base would be a major factor in whether the Menlo Park district would opt to take on the new territory.

Bims challenged residents of the Willows, Suburban Park and Menlo Oaks neighborhoods to return to the Ravenswood district if they feel it's important to not leave that district in the lurch by reducing its property tax base, since the state automatically pays the difference based on the number of children who attend the school.

"I doubt we'll have many takers," she said.

"It shouldn't be on the backs of the Belle Haven neighborhood to say, 'You need to stay behind,'" said Rose Bickerstaff, a member of the homeowners' association. "Did people think about (that) when the Willows, Menlo Oaks and Suburban Park pulled out?"

The Almanac received a written statement from Hernandez-Goff in response to the petition:

“To me, there is no doubt that we can and must do better as a district," she wrote. "That’s why the reforms that are currently being implemented within our district are necessary to the long-term success of the new Ravenswood. Although I share the petitioners' frustration, not only regarding Belle Haven, but the entire district, we are working extremely hard to overturn decades of failed policies and practice. I ask the community to work with us as partners as we continue the upward trajectory of our district.

Changing boundaries

Last September then-Menlo Park Mayor Kirsten Keith convened a public forum to discuss educational equality in Menlo Park. At the time, Suzanne Carrig, a Santa Clara County education official, gave a presentation about how to change district boundaries.

Carrig told attendees that in San Mateo County, the request for transfer would first go to an 11-member county committee on school district organization, and would be subject to nine criteria that are considered in evaluating the potential impacts of district boundary changes. They include ascertaining whether the proposed changes would yield an equitable division of property and facilities, promote racial or ethnic segregation, affect educational programs, or increase state costs.

Another criteria: The change can't be made for the sole purpose of increasing property values.

The matter would likely go to the governing boards of the school districts involved and might go to voters, she said.

According to Rose Bickerstaff, the petition needs to be signed by a quarter of the registered voters in the area to move forward.

"Sometimes, to attack a problem, you have to start with a small piece of it," Bims said. "What we're trying to do is save a community school."

"At this point, we're just trying to get through that first hurdle," she said. "We'll see how this journey goes for us."

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Comments

9 people like this
Posted by Way to go Kirsten!
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on May 18, 2018 at 5:03 am

Great work Kirsten Keith, Sheryl Bims and Rose Bickerstaff and Rachel Bickerstaff!


8 people like this
Posted by Way to Go?
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on May 18, 2018 at 9:20 am

Woo Hoo, Kirsten Keith called a meeting to discuss an issue. I guess your bar for public officials doing something about problems must be pretty low.

Kate Bradshaw, did anything come from the forum? has the city or the School Board made any comments about this? I know the Willows moved from Ravenswood to Menlo School District in 1983 because of the horrible education the children were receiving. By the time the neighborhood changed districts most of the kids were going to private schools.


18 people like this
Posted by Support
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on May 18, 2018 at 9:37 am

Be fair. Kirsten Keith deserves credit.

Belle Haven school needs help. It has 577 students

The demographic breakdown is:

Hispanic: 81.1%
African American:10.9%
Pacific Islander:6.1%
88.4 % of the student receive free/discounted lunch.

Based on test scores it ranks 4960th out of 5,650 California Elementary Schools.

This school needs the support of the MPCSD administration and the MPCSD Foundation.


11 people like this
Posted by I agree
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on May 18, 2018 at 10:01 am

Support,

I agree they need a lot of help. They have horrible test scores, horrible leadership and a host of other problems. However I am not sure why you think Kirsten Keith deserves any credit, she hasn't done anything. Calling a forum to discuss the issue is not taking an action, it is not tackling the problem. What happened at this forum? Have any actions been taken as a result of the forum? I am not sure what the best action is, fixing the problems in the Ravenswood School District (read the previous articles on how hard that will be) or moving to the Menlo District, which really is not a free education given that the parents of children in the Menlo Park School district are asked to make a contribute $2,000 a year.


20 people like this
Posted by kbehroozi
a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on May 18, 2018 at 11:25 am

kbehroozi is a registered user.

Hey, can we focus on the topic at hand and not have this devolve into a council-bashing exercise? We have some great leadership coming from Belle Haven; let's center them and their work and not make it about Ray or Kirsten.


28 people like this
Posted by Belle Haven resident
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on May 18, 2018 at 12:30 pm

Belle Haven kids are every bit as deserving of an excellent education as all other kids in Menlo Park. It has been an uphill struggle to have the MP city council or the director of the library pay any attention to the children who live here, the education they get, the library services they receive, and thus the opportunities in life and careers they will ultimately have access to.
It's appropriate to address what little the city council has done. The former mayor only called a meeting last year because she was pressed into calling one. The urgency came from BH residents who deserve all credit for persevering despite little to no support from the city. They are heroes and have been for many years.


8 people like this
Posted by good conversation
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on May 18, 2018 at 12:38 pm

Hey @kbehroozi, Mueller was also in attendance and his JPA idea was also discussed.

Mayor Keith organized the event, inviting Suzanne Carrig and Joe Ross (Web Link). Employees form San Mateo County Office of Education have a conflict, so Suzanne Carrig from Santa Clara County Office of Education was invited to explain the process for changing district boundaries. Joe Ross, a Belle Haven resident and then President of the San Mateo County Board of Education, came to explain to role of the board. Joe Ross also described the JPA idea. More information about that meeting can be found here (Web Link) and also here (Web Link).


68 people like this
Posted by Train Fan
a resident of Hillview Middle School
on May 18, 2018 at 12:39 pm

"This school needs the support of the MPCSD administration and the MPCSD Foundation."

Before I go further, I'll first mention that I've been a long-standing proponent of changing MPCSD (and other district's) boundaries to something more intuitive (say, mapping the MPCSD boundary to encompass all of Atherton proper and Menlo Park proper).

However, without a comprehensive change in boundaries that includes sections of LLSD + RCESD in conjunction with a Belle Haven addition, a Belle-Haven-only transfer dooms ALL of Belle Haven students and MPCSD students with lower per-student funding since all State funding for Belle Haven students disappears.

Somewhere during the earlier debates on school district consolidation, I recall some math that made the case that Ravenswood students *lose* revenue/student if Belle Haven was transferred to MPCSD, since there'd be a substantial drop in state funding for Belle Haven students. That drop in state revenue would be far greater than the savings from consolidation in administration. Even offsetting that loss of revenue by merging LLESD with MPCSD (in addition to transferring Belle Haven) make the financial advantages tenuous at best.

You'd really have to combine parts of LLESD, MPCSD, RCESD and/or PVSD-or-Woodside in order to offset the loss of State revenue to Belle Haven students.

Another theoretical option would be to make MPCSD completely encompass Menlo Park (including Belle Haven) and Atherton. But there's virtually no chance of that happening; Atherton is a property-tax cash cow for Redwood City Elementary and there isn't a snowball's chance in you-know-where they'd give up that free money: Atherton residents routinely send somewhere between zero-to-one student to the Redwood City school district.

To those of you who wish to convince LLESD, MPCSD, RCESD, PVSD and Ravenswood officials to create a combined LLESD+MPCSD+PVSD+Belle Haven school district...I wish you good luck. You're gonna need it.


10 people like this
Posted by real heroes
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on May 18, 2018 at 12:41 pm

@kbehroozi I don't know where the Ray versus Kirsten thing came from? Ray isn't even mentioned in this article or the comments. Isn't it a little unfair to say anyone who criticizes Kirsten is a Ray supporter?

The article says Kirsten Keith called the meeting and invited someone to teach community members from Belle Haven the process to make their petition. At least that is some action by a City Council member to bring Belle Haven into the Menlo Park School District. I agree the leadership in Belle Haven is outstanding.


2 people like this
Posted by real heroes
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on May 18, 2018 at 12:52 pm

@goodconversation thanks for the post to the other articles. @kbehroozi is this quote from one of those articles what you were referring to by the Ray versus Kirsten thing?

"Mr. Ross, the San Mateo County school board member, said that changing district boundaries is possible, but takes a lot of time. Faster changes might be made by looking at initiatives succeeding at charter or public schools that work with students similar to those in the Ravenswood district, or by pursuing a proposal made months ago by Menlo Park Councilman Ray Mueller to start a Joint Powers Authority."

Belle Haven residents clearly want to pursue joining the Menlo Park School District rather than getting support from a Joint Powers Agency. Not sure it's fair to call that Ray versus Kirsten. Kirsten helped, but Belle Haven residents are the real heroes.




18 people like this
Posted by I am wodering why?
a resident of Belle Haven Elementary
on May 18, 2018 at 1:02 pm

Gloria, you said “To me, there is no doubt that we can and must do better as a district," she wrote. "That’s why the reforms that are currently being implemented within our district are necessary to the long-term success of the new Ravenswood. Although I share the petitioners' frustration, not only regarding Belle Haven but the entire district, we are working extremely hard to overturn decades of failed policies and practice. I ask the community to work with us as partners as we continue the upward trajectory of our district. The only reform we need is for you to leave. We gave you the chance to live with dignity, but you are too comfortable spending our kids' funds and have no shame on yourself. As part of your "reform" (more like a dictatorship), you removed a principal one trimester before school was out. This tells us that you do not care about the students. You just wanted to satisfy your ego, or you were too scared that Mr. Gaviglio was going to expose your truth about the bad job you are doing as a superintendent and that is why you decided to pull him out ASAP to silence him, and you forbid him to speak up to parents or teachers. This petition comes as a result of your bad leadership and the board members who voted to remove your contract. At least we do have a chance to become part of Menlo Park, but the kids who live in East Palo Alto have no choice but to put up with the poor education you are providing them with. Gloria and board members, this is not all the next steps are to recall Sharifa and to form a committee to go against the parcel tax and the bond, we will not allow you to spend our money which we work so hard to earn. We are already working on it and will hear from us soon. What a shame that you did not leave and that Sharifa and Anna voted for the renewal of your contract, as far as we know their political careers are ended. They do not listen to the parents or teachers 995 of the people were asking the board members not to renew it and only one (Ms. Grant, Senior Center director) was asking the board to renew it, this is because she gets meat and food from the Food Bank, and her daughter was given a good position at the school district. Nobody else asked the board to renew Gloria's contract. Gloria, more truth will come out and then you will decide that the best thing to do is quit and go reform you home.



4 people like this
Posted by kbehroozi
a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on May 18, 2018 at 1:06 pm

kbehroozi is a registered user.

Sorry that I wasn't more clear, @ real heroes and @good conversation. You definitely misread me.

It certainly would be unfair to say that anyone who criticizes Kirsten is a Ray supporter, or to imply that Ray wasn't involved–but I didn't say either of those things, nor do I believe them to be true. (In fact, I mentioned Ray BECAUSE of his interest in starting a JPA.)

My goal was to remind people that this is about Belle Haven, and that it would be appropriate to focus on Sheryl, Rose, and other community leaders who have been working on this project for a long time now.

Please don't read anything else into it; it wasn't intended.


1 person likes this
Posted by real heroes
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on May 18, 2018 at 1:23 pm

@kbehroozi thanks for the clarification. Ray's idea for a JPA has been discarded by Belle Haven residents though. It's time to move on. I am not sure he really belongs in this conversation at all.

It really is about Belle Haven leadership charging forward with an assist from Kirsten. You are the focus should be there and with Belle Haven


14 people like this
Posted by I am Wondering Why?
a resident of Belle Haven Elementary
on May 18, 2018 at 3:14 pm

We Belle Haven (Menlo Park Residents) shall vote NO on the Ravenswood School District Parcel and Tax Bond. If we are becoming part of Menlo Park, there is no need to give our money to Gloria who did not even wanted to put our concerns on the agenda when she was asked to do it. This shall be a lesson for her Sharifa, Pulido and Ms. Night who does not even live in East Palo Alto, and she voted YES on renewing Gloria's contract.
Please Let's teach Gloria and the board members a lesson.

This June, vote No on
Ravenswood City School District $196 parcel tax (8 years) Measure Q. 2/3 vote required.

Ravenswood City School District $70Million bond
Measure S. 55% vote required.
We cannot keep giving Gloria out money for her to spend on her family.


23 people like this
Posted by wishful thinking
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on May 18, 2018 at 3:45 pm

let me understand what you want....

you want MPCSD, who tracks their test scores like a hawk, to admit hundreds of low scoring students because they are a benevolent group of parents???? LOL

Unfortunately they will NEVER, and I will take bets on this, allow that to happen. Their investment in the curriculum and adherence to high test scores as a condition of continued support of the foundation make that a non-starter. just being honest here.

good luck.


6 people like this
Posted by Lynne Bramlett
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on May 18, 2018 at 5:23 pm

Lynne Bramlett is a registered user.

The idea of MP becoming a charter city is well underway. What the proposed charter will include (and when it will come to the voters) is TBD. Residents are advised to follow this issue closely (and even come up with suggestions to send to Council) so that any charter brought to the voters includes provisions that serve residents' interests by making our town better governed. My question: Is it possible to include a public school related provision into our charter that would offer a way to move Belle Haven Elementary and Willow Oaks into one of the MP school districts? The Santa Rosa City Charter (Sec 29) includes a provision related to the public schools. Web Link However, I don't see their language as something that would be useful in MP. As another data point, the "Foundational Aspects of Charter Cities" brief from UC Berkeley Law states that the courts have classified school systems as "statewide concerns" Web Link indicates that the courts classified school systems as statewide concerns. However, San Francisco (at least) tried something -- given the court case cited in the UC Berkeley document. Laws change, so maybe now it's possible to add provisions related to public schools to a city's charter. Does anyone know more on this topic?


11 people like this
Posted by Vote no on Ravenswood Parcel Tax and Bod
a resident of Atherton: Lloyden Park
on May 18, 2018 at 5:39 pm

Vote no on Ravenswood Parcel Tax and Bod is a registered user.

I too will vote NO on Ravenswood Parcel tax. We cannot give Gloria than 70 million dollars just on the bond to go on a shopping spree or to hire more relatives or friends like Mr. Maurice Ghysels who makes as much money as she does, just because they are good friends.


16 people like this
Posted by Parent
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on May 18, 2018 at 9:38 pm

I am a parent I have my son in Belle Haven and I work so hard to get my son off that district Ravenswood this members of the district make me sick how corrupts are not all but a lot are corrupt
I prefer to pay 1000 dollar or more to have my son in good school is much better pay that get free school whit a nasty leaders
Before the school it getting better and she move Mr. Gaviglio and now that school is a circus
Teachers are good and vice principal wow see that men how he work for the school is amazing mr Nguyen what a good person
But the lady principal is a mes she don’t now anything
Gloria you say work together whit parents you and board members don’t listen parents don’t listen community how we gonna work together if you don’t care anything that just your ego
Please community don’t waste your money paying taxes for Ravenswood they don’t deserve


7 people like this
Posted by Vote no on Ravenswood Parcel Tax and Bod
a resident of Atherton: Lloyden Park
on May 19, 2018 at 11:57 am

Vote no on Ravenswood Parcel Tax and Bod is a registered user.

Parent:
I agree with you, and know how you feel about Glorias's and the present board members (except for one), they are not there for our kids or for parents; they are there to satisfy their ego because they have the power to control parents and students. Please talk to your neighbors or relatives and tell them to vote NO on the parcel tax or the bond. Gloria and the board do not deserve to spend our money. I am sure that the board members are also getting part of the pie. Do not forget that because she votes the way Gloria wants her to vote, Glenda, her domestic partner got a well-paid job even though she did not have the proper credentials and as a result, she put a student in danger. The hero at the CDC was the student teacher who knew something was wrong the Latino student was being picked up by an African American, and she moved fast to stop the parent from taking the child.
DO NOT FORGET TO VOTE NO ON BOTH PARCEL AND BOND TAX.


2 people like this
Posted by districts
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on May 19, 2018 at 1:03 pm

@Lynne_Bramlett, thank you for doing so much research and sharing it here. Menlo Park becoming a charter city has little to do with school districts; we don't have a unified school district. If you look into it, you'll quickly understand why our small city will never have a unified school district. Moving all the property (schools) and people (residents) within Menlo Park out of Ravenswood and into MPCSD will be good for the city and good for MPCSD, which is suffering from declining enrollment. MPCSD serves a large chunk of Atherton, and Las Lomitas serves a large chunk of Menlo Park, but that can all stay in place.

@Lynne_Bramlett asks, "that any charter brought to the voters includes provisions that serve residents' interests by making our town better governed." If your argument is that you don't agree the city manager should have so much authority, there is really no other option for such a small city as Menlo Park. Also, your definition of BETTER GOVERNED may not be popular or something you can even explain to voters. The charter city ordinance is moving forward so that residents can have a hybrid system, allowing Belle Haven to remain in-district (under threat of lawsuit) while the rest of Menlo Park returns to a system where residents can select two council members every two years.


2 people like this
Posted by Lynne Bramlett
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on May 19, 2018 at 2:31 pm

Lynne Bramlett is a registered user.

To "Districts" I beg to disagree with you regarding MP's proposed charter. First, as broad a change as having an "enabling charter" has been proposed by staff for Council's consideration. So the eventual charter put to voters may include more than just a change to how we handle elections. By better governed, I mean a town where the residents have a meaningful seat at the decision-making table and where staff treats us as their clients. Increasing public involvement would increase transparency, oversight and accountability. The increased pubic participation would allow more perspectives weighing in on decisions, to lead to better ones and better outcomes. So that the public can decide what it wants to know, or not know, on a given topic, I would like to see a Sunshine Ordinance (sometimes called a Better Government Ordinance) in a charter. Along with a Sunshine Ordinance (as the Brown Act is considered only the minimal threshold of openness), MP needs an improved public engagement process more like the fine example from the EPA. Web Link While The report, "Comparative Information on city Charters from California's Largest Cities" Web Link shows that a number of the cities have charters that include articles pertaining to education and schools. Naturally, I will look into the details. However, perhaps it is possible for MP to include a charter article that would help the Belle Haven resident's valid concerns on the topic of the education of their children.


2 people like this
Posted by West sider
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on May 20, 2018 at 2:18 pm

Ray Mueller has been tryin to make this happen, and several alternative models, for a couple of years.


7 people like this
Posted by Facts
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on May 20, 2018 at 3:50 pm

As noted above, Mueller has not been an advocate for the Belle Haven petition. His idea was a JPA, whereby local cities would combine support for the Ravenswood School District. It's just weird people keep trying to insert Ray into this news thread. Belle Haven doesn't want a JPA. It just wants out of the Ravenswood District and to join the Menlo Park City School District. Stop bringing Mueller up to try to change the topic to his JPA. It's just off topic.


20 people like this
Posted by What Is Really Going On?
a resident of Menlo Park: Fair Oaks
on May 20, 2018 at 4:26 pm

Why isn't the grand jury looking into the (mis) management of the Ravenswood district?


4 people like this
Posted by Cheryl
a resident of another community
on May 21, 2018 at 10:07 am

If Belle Haven becomes its own district, will they still be eligible to apply for the Tinsley program? The Court Order that mandates the program states students must live in the Ravenswood City boundaries and if Belle Havens leaves I assume they won’t be allowed to apply anymore. Bad news for them but probably good news to remaining families who will have a greater chance of entering the program via the lottery.


63 people like this
Posted by Brian
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on May 21, 2018 at 2:26 pm

The idea of moving Belle Haven and other schools into the Menlo Park School District are likely to meet with a lot of push back. Just look at what happened with a few houses on O'Connor wanted to be moved to the district so their kids could go to school with their neighbors. I don't think getting an entire community into the district will work any better.

Why isn't there a bigger focus on recalling the board and replacing the problems like the superintendent? That seems like what really needs to happen.


3 people like this
Posted by I am wodering why?
a resident of Belle Haven Elementary
on May 21, 2018 at 3:24 pm

Bryan,

In regards to your question:
Why isn't there a bigger focus on recalling the board and replacing the problems like the superintendent? That seems like what really needs to happen.

We do not recall them because if we try and fail to win, they will be very revengeful against us parents and children. Gloria, 4 members protect each. They have enough money from students funds and won't hesitate to spend it on hiring attorneys so the recall does not pass.
Yes, they are horrible, retaliators and corrupted, but how can we win, where do we go so Gloria to ask for an investigation so we can find out where has she put the money that is missing? It seems to be easy but is not.


22 people like this
Posted by Train Fan
a resident of Hillview Middle School
on May 21, 2018 at 7:02 pm

"Belle Haven doesn't want a JPA. It just wants out of the Ravenswood District and to join the Menlo Park City School District."

In order to accomplish that goal, Belle Haven residents will need to address the following:

1: How will Belle Haven residents backfill the funding shortfall that would result in transferring Belle Haven from Ravenswood to MPCSD? Remember, Ravenswood gets MORE per-student funding than MPCSD; a transfer will result in a large drop in State funding for Belle Haven students since the state will slash its financial contribution because MPCSD is a Basic Aid district. And just to be clear, the transfer (unless additional funding was included), will result in a drop in per-student funding for ALL MPCSD+transferred-Belle-Haven students.

Belle Haven residents will have to come up with a plan to secure guaranteed additional funding to make the transfer financially viable for MPCSD administration and parents.


2: What has been the performance of "Tinsley program" students? Tinsley student performance can give us insight into the effectiveness of a Belle Haven transfer. Anecdotally, comments in other articles suggest the Tinsley students too-frequently struggle academically in the higher-scoring school districts. Is there hard data to clarify Tinsley student performance (anecdotal posts are not enough)? This is needed in order to determine if a transfer would be the most effective option for the students.


3: Which school facilities would get transferred over to MPCSD? The upcoming year's enrollment dip not withstanding, long-term projections show the Bay Area continues to grow in population. A MPCSD that included Belle Haven would need not only Belle Haven Elementary, but possibly "James Flood" Elementary as well. Will these facilities be secured as part of the transfer?

If these facilities are broken (and it sounds like they are)...who will pay to fix them?


If any of the above 3 issues has the answer "MPCSD and the current MPCSD parents/taxpayers will have to deal with it", then a Belle Haven transfer will probably not happen.


10 people like this
Posted by Season of change in MP
a resident of Belle Haven Elementary
on May 21, 2018 at 7:29 pm

Unfortunately, we have already lost some of our most...

Amazing
Brilliant
Creative
Daring
Effective
Friendly
Gregarious
Happy
Imaginative
Joyful
Knowledgeable
Logical
Meticulous
Nurturing
Observant
Patient
Qualified
Resilient
Smart
Talented
Unflappable
Vivacious
Wonderful
Xenial
Young
Zestful

...teachers as a result of the instability within the district leadership.

The Belle Haven community is calling out for a change.

Gaviglio could spearhead the school and continue the work he started at Belle Haven three years ago - only this time working within a system free of corruption. Yes, the changes may potentially lead to a loss in state/federal dollars for these students, but there's enough money and compassion in this area to cover the cost of meals for these kids and maybe even a few teaching assistants and custodians (that would be a luxury). Besides, fund raising is one of Gaviglio's talents. He works with teachers to identify specific needs and seeks funding to meet those needs. There's never been a question about money entrusted to him, unlike Gloria Hernandez. This is a season of change in Menlo Park. Belle Haven is part of Menlo Park - the school, the library and the people. Belle Haven School has also been building a fruitful relationship with our new neighbor Facebook.

Gaviglio has a track record of turning around schools just like Belle Haven. Multiple data points show improvement in student performance during his time at the school. He was removed because he blew the whistle on a corrupt superintendent who was reinstated for two more years by a board with at least one member who had personal affiliations that may have influenced her vote and another who slept through the meeting and had to be nudged awake to vote.

And the man who's been holding the school together, vice principal Tri Nguyen, is also fully capable of leading the school onward and upward. He is knowledgeable of the students, staff and families, but more importantly, he has navigated the school through these difficult weeks and months with professionalism and poise.


8 people like this
Posted by Matthew Effect
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on May 21, 2018 at 7:50 pm

To Train Fan,

"The rich get richer, and the poor get poorer."

Seems like you're implying that Menlo Park residents are cool with excluding a portion of their City's children from attending their public schools because they can't afford the price of admission. And when you consider that these particular kids are mostly Hispanic, Black and Polynesian, it begins to smell rotten. They reside in Menlo Park. Why can't they attend Menlo Park Public Schools? Your second question sheds light on your concept of learning. If you can't keep up, you don't deserve a spot in the classroom? That's devastatingly short-sighted and potentially deadly (student suicides are often caused by ridiculous parental expectations). But the Matthew Effect plays out over the centuries, and as the current generation strives for an acceptance letter from the Ivy League, they couldn't possibly risk that pursuit by sharing some resources with their less resourced neighbors.


8 people like this
Posted by Brian
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on May 21, 2018 at 7:52 pm

Well unfortunately if you do nothing about the board and the superintendent then you are just passing along the problem to any students left in the district, and if you think the current board and superintendent would just let Belle Haven leave and lose that income I think you will be surprised. I would guess they would fight this harder than a recall and could tie it up a lot longer in court.

Based on the other comments above I think that it would be a harder battle to get Belle Haven into the MPCSD that it would be to recall the current board. I don't see parents or administrators welcoming in a huge group of students with lower test scores and taking a financial hit on the per student spending.


14 people like this
Posted by Train Fan
a resident of Hillview Middle School
on May 22, 2018 at 4:04 pm

I wrote:
"I've been a long-standing proponent of changing MPCSD ... boundaries to something more intuitive (say, mapping the MPCSD boundary to encompass all of Atherton proper and Menlo Park proper)."

(That obviously includes Belle Haven)

Matthew Effect wrote:
"Seems like you're implying that Menlo Park residents are cool with excluding [Belle Haven] children"

Really. THAT was your take. Your reading comprehension is terrible.



"when you consider that these particular kids are mostly Hispanic, Black and Polynesian, it begins to smell rotten."

What is the "it" you're referring to? Careful...

(note to moderator: you and I both know what he/she is implying, and that makes that post very easily repugnant and flag-able and a violation of code of conduct. But let's see what he/she says)



"They reside in Menlo Park. Why can't they attend Menlo Park Public Schools?"

Uhhhh, you are very confused. Let me help you.

1: there is no such thing as a "Menlo Park Public School" district. You are basing your assumption of MPCSD based solely on the name given the government agency. The following agencies are a few examples of government agencies that have the words "Menlo Park" in their name that are not associated with the town government:

* Menlo Park Fire Protection District: NOT a Menlo Park-specific or Menlo Park-run government agency
* Menlo Park City School District: NOT a Menlo Park-specific or Menlo Park-run government agency

These are separate government agencies, and they are NOT run by the City of Menlo Park. Additionally, these government agencies (as well as LLSD, Ravenswood, etc) have jurisdictional boundaries that are frequently independent of the town/city governments that overlap them.

2: there are at least 4 school districts that cover portions of the City of Menlo Park:
* Las Lomitas Elementary SD
* Ravenswood City Elementary SD
* Menlo Park City Elementary SD
* Redwood City Elementary SD

Each of these 4 districts is every bit as much a "Menlo Park" school district as MPCSD. Yes, a majority (possibly just a plurality, given the private schools in the area) of Menlo Park students attend MPCSD, but that in no way makes that government agency more exclusively-Menlo-Park than other school districts.


As I stated earlier, I support a reorganization of MPCSD school boundaries, and that includes Belle Haven. But if you think you're going to be able to transfer Belle Haven to MPCSD with no responsibility, no work and no thought going into the consequences and steps needed to accomplish that effectively, then you are being tragically naive. And...frankly...very selfish.


The 3 questions I asked are both very reasonable and...more importantly...MPCSD administration are no fools and are likely to factor in those very issues in judging and weighing the merits of a transfer. You need to give good answers to those questions; If you can't answer those questions, and even having them posed results in implied assertions of racism, then you are not prepared to do the work it takes to successfully transfer Belle Haven to MPCSD.


By-the-way, as a side note, it's worth pointing out that MPCSD is likely not your biggest obstacle. There is no chance Ravenswood will support this transfer, and the SMCOE factors in the recommendations of the affected school districts in determining the merits of a transfer. Here's how the O'Conner street petition worked out: Web Link

Have you even filled out a petition yet? Have you even started?


6 people like this
Posted by Vote no on Ravenswood Parcel Tax and Bond
a resident of Atherton: Lloyden Park
on May 22, 2018 at 8:29 pm

Train Fun: I came across with this petition, I do not know if that is the one you are asking about. I am not sure if this will be enough. I know that last time a petition like this was launched asking the board members not to renew her contract, but the board members and Gloria ignored it. Hope this one works.

Web Link


22 people like this
Posted by Jennifer Bestor
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on May 22, 2018 at 10:24 pm

Train Fan, Cheryl et al, you’ve summarized the three major issues I’ve heard over the past ten years whenever combinations of Ravenswood (or parts of Ravenswood) with other local school districts have been discussed:
1) Financial implications
2) Management competence educating disadvantaged children
3) Actual logistics
Hopefully, the group spearheading this initiative is carefully analyzing each of these and interviewing key parties to ensure the outcome they're hoping for.

Financial Implications
I would be happy to sit down with anyone interested in looking at the financial stuff (I’ll outline the key issues below under *****), though I believe the County Office of Education and its Committee on School District Organization could be more helpful.

The essence of the issue can be seen in the just-released 2016-17 financial revenue information on the Ed-data.org website. The Ravenswood district had $16,400 in revenue per student (average daily attendance), while the MP City district had slightly less, $15,900 in revenue. Both fall around 140% of the state average.

However, in Ravenswood, only about a third was raised via local taxes: $3,000 directly from property taxes and $1,900 from the dissolution of its local redevelopment agencies, for a total of $4,900 per student, plus another $400 in parcel taxes. In MPCSD, three-quarters came from the local tax base: $9,300 directly from property taxes, $200 from redevelopment dissolution, and $2,400 in parcel taxes. We can evaluate to what extent the combined district would be pulled back towards the state average of $11,700 per student.

Note: In the past, adding Portola Valley, Woodside and Las Lomitas to the pot didn't change the end results for MPCSD/Ravenswood, since those districts were substantially smaller than MPCSD and Ravenswood. (Although the combination did reduce them to the state average, as well.)

Management Competence
While there is evidence that MPCSD does a reasonable job of educating a population that is:
- 60% white, 10% Asian, 15% Hispanic, 1% African-American and 1% Pacific Islander
- of whom 12% qualify as low-income/English Learner
- 4% of whom are absent on average, and
- 0.1% of whom are homeless
It is worth questioning what skills its management has at educating a population that is (Ravenswood as a whole):
- 1% white, 0.4% Asian, 83% Hispanic, 7% African American, and 8% Pacific Islander
- of whom 95% qualify as low-income/English Learner
- 20% of whom are absent on average, and
- 30% of whom are homeless,
or the demographics (probably more accurate) shown by another poster for Belle Haven School alone.
And, if the management team doesn’t have these skills, how and at what cost will it acquire them?

Logistics
I'll include the link below to the California Department of Education page on district reorganization, which does an excellent job of summarizing the issues that the CDE will require proponents to look at, including (as others have pointed out), the effects on the remaining EPA schools, the Tinsley program, etc.
Web Link

*****
Financial Modeling Variables:
- Current property tax rolls for Belle Haven (newest I have is 2015; 2018 will be available after July 1)
- Assumptions about Facebook and other commercial growth (MP Fire District occasionally pays for a useful survey!)
- Residual redevelopment agency commitments (i.e., unavailable school property tax)
- Any other property tax deals between owners and school district
- Parcel tax equalization: Ravenswood $196; MPCSD $1053/parcel
- Attendance demographics to calculate state LCFF: enrollment by grade, ADA by grade, % free/reduced meals/English Learner (unduplicated)
- Assumptions about changes in attendance:
- more students, if redistricted public school system is "more" attractive (e.g., Pacific Parc)?
- fewer students, if gentrification ensues, reducing multifamily households?
- Assumptions about attendant changes in property tax collections
- higher property values? what % will be captured by landlords, what % captured by sales = incr. prop tax?
- State requirement to equalize average teacher salaries (MPCSD to newly acquired teachers)?
- Additional code work required on Belle Haven School or campus?

Let me know if anyone's interested in doing this work.


46 people like this
Posted by Brian
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on May 22, 2018 at 11:01 pm

Brian is a registered user.

I have to agree with Train Fan. I grew up in the Willows and attended school in the Ravenswood District until my parents got few up and sent me to a private school. All my siblings went to Ravenswood Schools including 2 who went to Ravenswood High School. City boundaries have nothing to do with the school district you are in. I believe the Willows joined the MPCSD in about 1983 so it can be done, but I don't think it will be easy.


38 people like this
Posted by Train Fan
a resident of Hillview Middle School
on May 23, 2018 at 6:17 pm

Looking over the comments so far, I don't see strong opposition to a Belle-Haven-to-MPCSD transfer, provided it's well thought out.

But that will undoubtedly be the rub. An attempt to simply transfer Belle Haven to MPCSD without accounting for impact is bound to fail. At a risk of reiterating what Jennifer wrote in her well-researched post, Belle Haven residents will need to come up with solutions to the following, in order to improve the likelihood of a transfer:

* mitigate the impact to remaining Ravenswood students;
* mitigate the impact to existing MPCSD students;
* Ensure school facilities are included in the transfer, and that those facilities are safe and functional by modern standards;
* show that the Tinsley transfer students performed markedly better than the comparable students in Ravenswood.

You can't hand-wave those issues away, and you can't play the race card when someone brings them up. The communities you're affecting *care* about them, and you may need a large percentage of the affected communities to support your transfer in order for it to be successful. You won't get that support if you don't address the issues.

For what it's worth, if I was a Belle Haven Parent attempting to transfer the neighborhood, I would do my due diligence and talk to MPCSD and Ravenswood to make the case for a transfer (more courtesy than anything), but do so knowing that the transfer will not be supported in either district.

I would focus my energy on convincing the SMCOE on the merits of a transfer. Given SMCOE's recent history on transfers, I suspect they won't approve one outright (they denied O'Connor, for example), but maybe if you're lucky and hard working, they may approve allowing a public vote in the affected communities; If I recall correctly, the Willows transferred into MPCSD in that manner.

By the way, while I won't dispute Jennifer Bestor's statement that there are not enough LLSD-kids-in-Menlo Park to offset the financial and academic impact of Belle Haven, I still think expanding the scope of a boundary change to include areas with higher property taxes would make the transfer far more palatable to affected families.


2 people like this
Posted by Keep Asking Questions
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on May 26, 2018 at 2:14 pm

Local Control Funding Formula

Chapter 47, Statutes of 2013 (Assembly Bill 97)—enacted as part of the 2013–14 budget package—made major changes to the way the state funds school districts. The goal of this new school finance system, known as the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF), is to significantly simplify how state funding is provided to school districts. Under LCFF, revenue limits and most state categorical programs are eliminated. School districts receive funding based on the demographic profile of the students they serve and gain greater flexibility to use these funds. The LCFF funding targets consist of grade span-specific base grants plus supplemental and concentration grants that provide additional funds based on student demographic factors such as low income, English learner, and foster students. Web Link

Gloria Hernandez-Goff and the Ravenswood City School Board control substantial public funds sent directly to them from the state and federal government. There is tremendous potential for improvement within the Ravenswood City School District!

Use the current momentum to vote out or recall the current Board, remove the inadequate administration, fill the positions with honest professionals and keep it local!! Hold them accountable for spending this money responsibly and in ways that directly impact your child’s education! The Ravenswood Education Foundation provides support for music and art. Dollar for dollar, MP and RSD are funded about the same. The difference is in how the money is managed. FYI, it’s not going to the teachers. MP average is $103,622, while RSD average is $76,376, according to CDE 2016-17 Report (Form J-90).

Step one: Request an AUDIT of all money spent since 2013-14 school year. Request an investigation into the School Board and Superintendent relationship from the City Council, County or State. When things got heated last month, people got physical. Laws were broken. Lies were told. Police were called to intimidate parents. There are unanswered questions coming from a disadvantaged community about alleged corruption and pulling Belle Haven out of the district is certainly not a sustainable solution for students and families.


5 people like this
Posted by Zbig
a resident of Menlo Park: Fair Oaks
on May 27, 2018 at 2:21 am

This is a Kirsten Keith re-election trick, and a cynical one at that. The MPCSD will never annex the Belle Haven schools, and she knows that. A good question to ask KK is: You’ve been on council 8 years. If this is so important to you, why didn’t you do this earlier. The answer is council district elections. A candidate running citywide couldn’t get elected by promoting annexation. But it might work in the Willows district where she is now running. People will get all excited and yell “Woo Hoo” but after the election it will be forgotten. You’re all suckers at climbing on the KK bandwagon. She’s just a corrupt politician manipulating gullible people.


8 people like this
Posted by Remember O'Connor School
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on May 27, 2018 at 4:10 am

@Zbig, O'Connor School was annexed along with Willow neighborhood residents, from Ravenswood into MPCSD. If that happened before, it can happen again. The Belle Haven neighborhood association that is bringing this petition forward. It's unclear is Keith has any involvement at this point.


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

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