Ravenswood to hold public meetings on charter school expansion request

First meeting to be held Saturday morning, Feb. 2, at Cesar Chavez Academy

The Ravenswood City School District is hosting a series of community meetings through next week to inform the public about a request from KIPP Valiant Community Prep for a long-term location, which would likely displace an existing district school.

KIPP, one of two charter schools authorized by the district, is currently housed in 18 classrooms at the adjacent Brentwood and Los Robles/McNair sites. The charter school opened in 2017 and plans to expand to include eighth grade by 2021, with a maximum enrollment of 610 students. Starting this fall, the school plans to enroll 558 students, according to the school district.

Under Proposition 39, public school districts are required to make facilities available to charter schools to ensure all students have access. KIPP submitted a facilities request to the district in November. The charter school did not immediately respond to a request for comment for this article.

The district initially hoped to offer KIPP space at the former Runnymede School site, where Aspire East Palo Alto Charter School operates, but a district architect and attorney said it would not be physically feasible, Superintendent Gloria Hernandez-Goff said at the Dec. 13 school board meeting.

The district also reviewed enrollment capacity at every available site and determined that co-locating the charter school with Ravenswood programs was not feasible, attorney Elizabeth Mori of firm Fagen Friedman & Fulfrost told the board in December. Belle Haven Elementary School appears to be the "likely site scenario," Mori said.

The school board will ultimately decide whether Belle Haven, Brentwood, Costaño or Willow Oaks will house KIPP starting this fall. Students and teachers from the affected neighborhood school will be moved to other sites, and the district will likely have to reduce staff, specifically administrators, according to a frequently-asked-questions page on the issue posted on the district's website Friday.

Ravenswood is now under a tight deadline to make a difficult decision that is already sparking tensions in the community about which school will be affected. The district is required to make a final facilities offer to KIPP on or before April 1.

"Given KIPP's expected increase in enrollment, need for more space, and the implications for students and families currently attending district schools, this has understandably created anxiety and uncertainty within our community, as well as numerous questions and concerns regarding the district's legal obligations and plans moving forward," the FAQ states.

KIPP's growth comes at a cost to the district, which is losing an increasing number of students each year to other schools and the funding attached to them. Lingering dissatisfaction with district leadership and the state of the district, compounded by KIPP's expansion request, have prompted more than 200 community members to sign a petition calling for Hernandez-Goff's removal.

In a Facebook post on Friday, board President Tamara Sobomehin, speaking for herself and not on behalf of the board, urged the community to "engage in constructive and mindful conversation with each other" about KIPP's expansion.

"This is a time where we should come together as a supportive community -- not rally against each other -- as we navigate this challenge," she wrote.

Below is the schedule of community meetings:

Feb. 2: Cesar Chavez Academy/Ravenswood Middle School multipurpose room, 2450 Ralmar Ave., East Palo Alto; 9-10:30 a.m.

Feb. 4: Costaño School gymnasium, 2695 Fordham St., East Palo Alto; 6-7:30 p.m.

Feb. 5: Belle Haven Elementary School multipurpose room, 415 Ivy Drive, Menlo Park; 6-7:30 p.m.

Feb. 6: Willow Oaks Elementary multipurpose room, 620 Willow Road, Menlo Park; 5:45-7:15 p.m.

Feb. 7: Brentwood Academy multipurpose room, 2086 Clarke St., East Palo Alto; 6-7:30 p.m.

Feb. 9: District board room, 2120 Euclid Ave., East Palo Alto; 1-2:30 p.m.

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16 people like this
Posted by To Board Members
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Feb 3, 2019 at 7:54 pm

Dear Honorable New Board Members, We voted for you because we the residents of this community want you to make changes:
1. Stop voting yes on whatever the super says.
2. Stop the super from wasting our students' funds
3. Stop the culture of retaliation (she is retaliating when she wants to close Belle Haven and not other schools).
4. Get us a more competent super who actually cares.
5. Listen to the community and act on it. Do not do what Pulido did instead to listen and act on what the community wanted when they were voting on renewing the super's contract: I heard you, but we do not have time to hire a new super or something like that (lamest excuse ever).
5. Be there for the kids not to protect the super. Do not feel threatened when the super says that if we do not do this we will get a legal suit. She does not care about it. Take a look at Mr. Gaviglio's case, she was warned and still did not listened.

It is time for you to show us that we did not make a mistake when we voted for you. Please do not disappoint us. If you feel like you cannot stand up to the super and her gang leave and let the seat for someone else who is not afraid to do the right thing. You hold the power to pick this district up and improve the student's educations, but also that power can be used to take down the district as the majority of the board members has done. Please be different do not become one of them.

The whole problem of closing Bell Haven will be over if you would listen to the voices of those 200 people who signed the petition asking for the immediate removal of the super.

Hernandez closed the CDC, now she wants to close Belle Haven the only good thing we have, what is next? She would want to close the whole district? Or she might want the state to take over before we get rid of her?

We need to stop her before she takes down the district with her when she leaves the district. Board Members, it is time for you to make difficult decisions. Remember that is what the super said to you at your first meeting 12/13/18. So start acting as board members who care about the students and are not afraid to do the right thing (fire her and find someone better). Don't wait till it is too late, because of her our district keeps deteriorating every day as we speak.

Just take a look at how many people are going for KIPP instead of remaining in our district. Doesn't this tell you something?

Are the super, Pulido and the incumbents saying the truth when they say that the district is better because of them? No, it has gotten worst! The proof is that we have fewer kids because parents rather have them there than at Ravenswood. After Hernandez removed Principal Gaviglio from BH, and the board decided to renew her contract, many parents moved their kids to KIPP and they did not return to BH this school year.

When will Pulido realized that he made a big mistake when she renewed her contract.

1 person likes this
Posted by Kevin
a resident of Portola Valley: Los Trancos Woods/Vista Verde
on Feb 5, 2019 at 10:54 pm

Kevin is a registered user.

I can’t be supportive of KIPP, or any other charter schools until they show above average results using fully randomized assignment of students over a number of years. Student skimming is neither an equitable nor a long term sustainable solution.

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

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