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Schools: Trying to get in

Original post made on Oct 1, 2009

A tiny neighborhood near Woodside High School is petitioning to be included in the Las Lomitas Elementary School District.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Tuesday, September 29, 2009, 2:15 PM

Comments (44)

Posted by Concerned Parent
a resident of Atherton: other
on Oct 1, 2009 at 12:13 pm

The global warming impact is a farce. This upscale neighborhood's motive is strictly financial. They do not desire to have the stigma of being in the RCSD, but the exclusivity of Los Lomitas to their property values and selling dollars. Great example for children to learn about snobbish exclusion vs inclusion.

Posted by Davis
a resident of Woodside: Kings Mountain/Skyline
on Oct 1, 2009 at 1:10 pm

I beg to differ with you Concerned Parent...its all about the quality of the schools. There is no comparison.

Posted by Las Lomitas Parent
a resident of Woodside: Woodside Heights
on Oct 1, 2009 at 1:17 pm

Las Lomitas and La Entrada are great schools and it in understandable why the parents on these two streets would want to send their children there. The change would help property values since Las Lomitas is one of the top school districts in the state, and Redwood City is not, but I don't think that means the parents are motivated solely or even primarily by financial consideration or snobbery. Maybe they just want their kids to go to great schools and to be included with the rest of the Woodside Heights neighborhood. That's not such a bad thing. I hope they win their case.

Posted by Scholar
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Oct 1, 2009 at 1:35 pm

Las Lomitas schools are not that great, and don't deserve their ongoing mythical reputation. My kid attended La Entrada and Las Lomitas and I had to get him/her tutored in math outside the school because the math program was so weak. One of their teachers warned me that tutoring a kid in math outside the school runs the risk of depleting his/her "self esteem" because they'll get a subconscious message that they are too dumb to learn in the school and need "help". What baloney. Teachers kept coming and going, even in the middle of the school year. There are almost no men teachers and the one we did have for a while quit. Nobody should buy in to this myth that these schools are so fantastic.

Posted by anonymous
a resident of another community
on Oct 1, 2009 at 2:25 pm

I hope they win their petition for two reasons.

First, I thought we were trying to encourage our kids to go to public schools. What's elistist about that? With this change, we will take 8 kids from the private schools to the public schools.

Second, children should always be able to go to the school that is closest to their home! It's not good policy because of global warming, it's good policy because it makes sense. It's hard to refute that reason.

Unfortunately, we continue to get the same old tired story from the Redwood City School District who fears that other neighborhoods will split off. Let's see - they won't lose any kids or any money but 8 kids will end up in another district's public school system. RCSD may have new leadership but they're clearly playing with same old playbook.

I'm guessing that this will eventually end up in Sacramento in front of the Board of Education. Fortunately for the petitioners, the state board is no longer composed of a bunch of superintendents and beaurocrats from other districts whose only agenda was to protect their colleagues at other districts. I'll bet the petitioners prevail on this one.

I only wish the RCSD would stop throwing obstacles in the way of parents who only want to send their kids to their closest public school.

Posted by Another LL Parent
a resident of Menlo Park: University Heights
on Oct 1, 2009 at 2:27 pm


I'm shocked at your statement. Not only do the test scores and awards offer testament to the fact that Las Lomitas School District is the number one district in the state of California, but the quality of teaching and mathematics is top notch. I beg to differ with your opinion and assessment. There have been a number of kids who have transferred to Las Lomitas and La Entrada from neighboring private schools such as Trinity, Phillips Brooks, St. Joseph's and the like - and those kids often find themselvs behind where the Las Lomitas/La Entrada kids are in math. Many of them require outside tutoring to "catch up."

And, since when does gender dictate the quality of teaching? There are many male teachers at La Entrada - in every grade and in every discipline. There are male music, computer, science, math, core and many other teachers. But, even if there weren't, so what? The teachers are among the finest around. Oh, and by the way, the principals and the superintendent at both schools are men.

I think your experience is in the minority. Most parents I know in the district would never consider moving anywhere else in order to have their children attend school in the district.

Posted by La Donna
a resident of Menlo Park: University Heights
on Oct 1, 2009 at 2:59 pm

Yes, I too would be interested in hearing Scholar's explanation about why the number of male teachers would matter a whit. He/she segues from talking about the inadequate (in his/her mind) quality of education to the lament that there are "almost no men teachers." Pray tell, Scholar, what's the connection, in your mind?

Posted by Interested Observor
a resident of Atherton: other
on Oct 1, 2009 at 3:43 pm

The other benefit to the Las Lomitas District would be that these "private school" households would have the opportunity to donate money to the school foundations, so there is an even larger impact on the education for more than the eight students described. If property values for that area went up, there would be more property tax for the whole community over time, and a larger hunk for Las Lomitas. With things as they are, no one is benefiting except the private schools.

But hey... let's not waste an opportunity to bash public education! Where has that gotten the world!? Darn socialists!

Posted by Karyn
a resident of another community
on Oct 1, 2009 at 7:19 pm

One issue that is completely overlooked in these comments is the benefit of living in a neighborhood where children know each other and play together. And what better way to foster that kind of community than to share the school experience. If these children's neighbors are attending a different school, then it's harder to form the kind of friendships that make a neighborhood "home." That has nothing to do with snobbishness, finances, property values or what have you. It's just good old fashioned community building. And that benefits everyone.

Posted by A Las Lomitas Booster
a resident of Portola Valley: Ladera
on Oct 2, 2009 at 12:18 am

Here's a simple solution to living in a neighborhood where the kids go to the same school: don't buy a house that's in a different school district from your neighbors.

Here's a solution to wanting your kids to go to Las Lomitas: BUY a house in a Las Lomitas neighborhood. There are many LL district houses for sale, ranging from posh Atherton and Woodside addresses to more modest and affordable unincorporated county areas. You can even rent an apartment.

Here's a method of jacking up your property value: buy a house in unincorporated Redwood City, with schools you don't want your kids to attend, and petition Woodside to annex your street. Ka-Ching!! Woodside doesn't get much out of it, but you do!!

Here's another method of jacking up your property value: buy a house in "Woodside" that is part of a less desirable school district, and petition to change the school district boundaries for your personal benefit. Ka-Ching!! A second round of massively increasing your wealth, at little to no cost to yourself. Isn't that great? Never mind that you are placing an extra burden on the school system, who will not get extra money when your very special kids join the school. Never mind that the Las Lomitas district is struggling to fit in all the kids it currently has, with projected enrollment increases over the next 5 years. Why would that matter? You can save lots of money on private tuition, and make a killing when you sell your house after your kids go off to college. What a great concept: find a way to extract more personal benefit from public resources, at little cost to you. Way to stay rich!

Hey -- if MA is better than Woodside, you'd better get to work petitioning Sequoia Union High School District for a boundary change, because you'd want to make sure your kids are going to the best school! But wait -- maybe your neighbors will have kids going to Woodside. What to do, what to do...
Consider, instead:

Be a good public citizen and work on improving the schools you bought into when you bought your house. Donate money and time. Join the school board. Let your kids make friends with kids from different backgrounds. Help the school district improve over-all, and your property value will rise with it.

The petition to change school district boundaries seems to be motivated by pure selfishness. Even petitioning for a change drains the system of a bit of money needed for more important things. You're asking at least 3 public agencies to devote time to you (two school districts and the committee). If you take it to court, you'll be draining even more money from the public coffers. You have the right to do this, of course, but is it the right thing to do? You are already over-privileged, compared to most Californians, because you can afford a house in a beautiful area. You have enough money to be paying private tuition. You ought to take personal responsibility for your decisions and cope with the consequences, or arrange a private way to meet your goal. You would seem to have the financial ability to move to a house in the district you prefer (and not paying school fees would save you a bundle). If you are finding that living on the wrong side of the district boundary is a problem for you, find a personal way to resolve it. Don't waste other people's time and money so you can manipulate public resources for your individual benefit.

It's so tacky when rich people gripe about their good fortune. I'm so much more sympathetic to lower income families who are struggling to give their children a solid education to secure a better future. There are a number of families in the Ravenswood district who enroll at Las Lomitas through the Tinsley program. It's delightful to watch these kids grow up through the grades, building confidence as they learn and age. They expand the school's horizons by bringing different cultural traditions, and they keep us from living in such a tiny privileged bubble that we feel sorry for ourselves when we can't afford a new luxury. No better time than elementary school to meet people who aren't just like you.

Our family makes donations to schools in the RCSD, because we care about children and education. We naturally want to give our children broad opportunities, and we think other children deserve the same benefit. We're grateful to be able to live where we do (we moved here for the neighborhood, long before thinking about schools). And we know that children's lives, and society as a whole, will be better when there is a more equal sharing of resources.

What do you give to your school district now? What would you bring to Las Lomitas? Are you considering how to give back to the community, if you get this windfall benefit? That's part of what makes Las Lomitas a great district: lots of parents working hard, donating time and money, to buffer the schools from cutbacks in funding. If you take such a big personal benefit from public resources, have the decency to give some of your personal resources for the public good.

Posted by Concerned
a resident of Atherton: other
on Oct 2, 2009 at 12:33 pm

If there is a boundary change, don't the property taxes also change (granted there are still amounts owing on bonds to the old district) Doesn't the new district now get the property taxes? If not, then forget it.

Now... if someone from outside the district is enrolled, certainly in that case, there is an expense that is not paid for at all.

It is really nice that these eight families are creating the "cha ching" situation for their neighbors. Hopefully they aren't trying to get the boundaries changed only to be selling their homes right away. Or does the "cha ching" writer think that these households will be taking out loans based on their new home values? Perhaps those with 2 kids should be kept out of the district?

I do like the neighborhood argument! Someone should step up, to point out that ALL the Ravenswood and Redwood City communities should be kept intact as schools as they move into the Sequoia Union High School District. (unless they want to apply for open enrollment which is possible... or one of the charter schools)

In the end, if the Las Lomitas District is going to reopen Ladera school, and is a few students shy, will a few more help make that reopening possible. (Yes... we all realize that there would be an huge sum of money that would have to be replaced by all the very very happy parents... and all those Laderans who have "Cha chinged" their school open again)

Posted by LL Parent
a resident of Woodside: Woodside Heights
on Oct 2, 2009 at 12:58 pm

As a Woodside Heights resident since 2000, I didn't even know that the folks on Greenways & Ward were incorported into Woodside several years ago. Those streets are not connected to any of the streets in the Woodside Heights neighborhood and I'd guess 95%+ of my neighbors don't know any residents there nor have even been on those streets. To say their children can't go to school with others "in the neighborhood" is disingenuous; it's not really the same neighborhood - check out map!

It's also disingenuous to talk about traffic problems getting to their local RWC school. The closest school is Selby Lane which is easily accessible via Stockbridge; the drive down Alameda to Las Lomitas and La Entrada is infinitely more crowded. Furthermore, Las Lomitas schools are NOT closer to their homes than the RWC school. Selby Lane School (K-8) is the same distance away as Las Lomitas (K-3) and La Entrada (4-8) is even further away for them.

It bothers me greatly that these are some of the main arguments being used by the petitioners. They paid hundreds of thousands of dollars less for their homes due to the school district. If they want to be in the Las Lomitas school district, they should move. There are plenty of homes in the same price range.

It's a slippery slope -- if this small group of parcels can join Las Lomitas, many others will petition to do so too. There are plenty of spots on the edge of the school district where parents could argue to have the district lines moved. Without overwhelming reasons showing that such an inclusion for Greenways/Ward would be a true exception, then such a move could open up the district to more petitions at a time when we are bursting at the seams and putting more classes in portables every year just to cope with increasing enrollment.

Posted by Las Lomitas Parent
a resident of Woodside: Woodside Heights
on Oct 2, 2009 at 1:08 pm

Most of these support arguments are incorrect and the Las Lomitas Booster from Ladera has it exactly right. I live in Woodside Heights and believe me these parcels are in no way part of the community. As was pointed out, they only joined Woodside in 2003 through a petition process. Prior to that this was unincorporated Redwood City. They do not play with our children nor have they ever attended any of the social events the neighborhood regularly hosts (the organized trick or treating, etc.). The argument that this is some horrible severing of a neighborhood is just not true.

This is a property value grab by these folks plain and simple. What most people seem to be missing is that it's not the eight current children who live in the neighborhood who are the issue. It's the fact that I'll guarantee that if this goes through these folks will be flipping their homes faster than you can say "cash out." The 43 parcels will turn into 150 additional students for Los Lomitas. As a basic aid district this will be a drag on an already over-burdened excellent public school. Add to that the fact that there is just no physical room at Los Lomitas for more students - I believe the K-3 campus (Las Lomitas) now has eight kindergarden classes and is heavily using temporary trailers to house the students they already have. If this comes up for a vote, I'm definitely voting no and I think most of the parents in the district will do the same.

Posted by anonymous
a resident of another community
on Oct 3, 2009 at 6:57 pm

I think these posts demonstrate the point.

Perhaps if these families could send their children to their neighborhood school (and Las Lomitas is defintely closer than Selby Lane), then these families would know their neighbors.

Those of you with childred, please ask yourself this - just how do you know your neighbors? Could it be that you met them through the school? It's probably something you take for granted.

If an entire neighborhood is sending their kids to different private schools, they'll never get to know each other.

There seems to be a lot of the "our family got in so close the door behind us" attitude going on. Yes, let's look the other way for these 8 kids. Because you can't argue the facts (money isn't the issue; capacity isn't the issue), maybe you can even scare everyone by saying that those 8 will surely turn into a few hundred.


Posted by You knew what you were buying
a resident of Las Lomitas School
on Oct 5, 2009 at 10:11 am

This request is outrageous and a waste of time and resources to discuss. Every household in the petioning area knew what school ditrict they were buying into when they purchased their homes. Now they are attempting to have it both ways by paying less for a comparable home (due to the school district) then getting a free ride by joining the district they really wanted.

The "neighborhood" argument is completely specious. The same logic could be applied to any and all school and town boundries. Orange Avenue has some kids going to Las Lomitas and some to Oak Knoll- should that be changed as well? Where does any one neighborhood begin and end?

The earlier posters were right- these parents should put their energies into improving the school they bought into and quit trying to add an unfair burden to Las Lomitas.

Posted by The facts
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Oct 5, 2009 at 10:17 am

Regarding anonymous' statement about arguing the facts- the facts speak for themselves:
-Money is the issue- additional students will come with nowhere near enough property tax money to cover the incremental costs they will incurr for teachers, materials and possibly even construction.
-Capacity is the issue- adding another 8 to 150 kids will further strain cpaacity and hurt teaching quality.

Posted by S- willows
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Oct 5, 2009 at 10:54 am

We all want our children to go to better schools, but you need to look at that when buying a home. I was born and raised in the Willows, and went to Willow Oaks School-- safety of getting to school was not an issue, as we lived 2 blocks from the school- I live in the Willows now, and my children are going to better schools, but definietly not in our neighborhood.

Posted by Be honest
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Oct 5, 2009 at 11:13 am

"Carbon footprint", "neighborhood schools", give me a break. It is apparent that these people:
-Don't like the Redwood City schools (zero of 8 kids actually attend)
-Pay $20K+ per kid for private schools (8 of 8)
-See an answer that will not only relieve them of paying private school tuition but also add hundreds of thousands in property value.

What's not to like? Oh yes, the overcrowding and financial impact on those who actually do live in the district.

Posted by Las Lomitas district parent
a resident of Woodside: Woodside Heights
on Oct 5, 2009 at 3:01 pm

We really can't overlook the fact that we are not talking about 8 kids once it's said and done. This neighborhood is 43 parcels. The reason there are only 8 school age kids living there is due to the school district. If these parcels were let into the Las Lomitas school district, they would sell for a *much* higher price and we'd see what happens in the other Las Lomitas school district neighborhoods -- houses would start to sell and families with young, school age children move in.

So then imagine that you've got 70% of these parcels with the average 2.5 kids per family - suddenly the school district is dealing with more than 75 children. And the property taxes don't begin to cover the cost of their education; remember, Las Lomitas is a basic aid district so we are *not* getting more money for each new child.

Right now the district can't easily absorb another 75 children on top of an already growing student population.

These residents knew what they were buying when they bought -- if they wanted to send their kids to a local public school with kids from the neighborhood (a really great thing so I can imagine all parents wanting that), then they should have bought a home on another street.

Posted by Gunn please
a resident of Portola Valley: Ladera
on Oct 5, 2009 at 3:19 pm

We're zoned for M-A high school, but I don't like that one, so I'm going to apply to have my street go to Gunn High instead. It's sure cheaper than moving to Palo Alto!

Posted by anonymous
a resident of another community
on Oct 5, 2009 at 3:57 pm

Just as I predicted, let's ignore the reality of just 8 kids by making everyone think there will really be 75!

Let's see, 43 homes in that neighborhood means that about 2 homes sell each year (1 of 20 parcels is the average in our area). In order to arrive at your prediction of 75 school age children would take 21 years and that assumes that the percentage of new purchasers with school age children changes from the current 18% of households to your prediction of 70% (which is well beyond the percentage of any San Mateo County neighborhood by a factor of 2) and that every one of those families has 2.5 school age children (again, quite an assumption - about twice the mean) and that all of those children want to go to Las Lomitas (when about two-thirds of children go to private schools). Don't some Menlo Park kids go to private school?

Talk about a three cushion shot!

Yes, the 8 school age students (of which about 5 would end up going to Las Lomitas) will probably increase over time. For that number to increase to even 12 or 13 would take an unprecedented and historic demographic change in these 43 parcels that is inconsistent with any local neighborhood. Other parcels (including Emerald Hills) have changed districts and none experienced the kind of demographic change you are predicting (in fact, none experienced any demographic change at all).

Argue the merits and use facts, please. No one has to resort to Palin-like death panel threats that there are really 75 kids lurking somewhere in the bushes. You're better than that.

Posted by You knew what you were buying
a resident of Las Lomitas School
on Oct 5, 2009 at 4:09 pm

anonymous, if it's 8 or 80 the principle is the same- the parents knew the school district when they moved there. What is the retort to that fact?

Any more students will be a burden on overcrowded Las Lomitas schools. Since the 8 students in question already all have homes at private schools, what's the fuss?

Posted by anonymous
a resident of another community
on Oct 5, 2009 at 5:13 pm

You knew what you were buying -

I have no issue with your perspective at all. At least it's honest. We can then argue over whether we should ever allow property owners the right to petition our officials to change things (like having a high speed rail line in their backyard or commercial development on El Camino Real, for instance...). You see, one person's gain can be another's loss.

Just don't say there will be 75 kids because that's completley dishonest.

I view this issue as a pretty low-level request where everyone gains. Picking up a handful of kids - and way more than enough tax dollars to pay for them! - seems to be a pretty easy accommodation to bring these children into our community.

This isn't war or health care reform. We can easily afford to do this. We don't need to construct new walls were none are necessary.

Posted by Las Lomitas Parent
a resident of Woodside: Woodside Heights
on Oct 5, 2009 at 5:20 pm

Did someone just seriously equate the idea that 75 kids could eventually enter the Las Lomitas district with Sarah Palin death panel talk? You must be kidding. The point of the matter is that a number of the parcels in this neighborhood have been owned for decades by people who paid in the low to mid one hundred thousands for the homes. Clicking around it looks like the average home is paying about $4.75 a year in property taxes (ok, that's a bit of hyperbole, but a remarkable number of them are paying $2,000-$7,000 a year which indicates to me that the homes haven't been sold in decades). What better chance to cash out than (i) getting yourself moved from unincorporated Redwood City to Woodside and (ii) having your school district moved from Redwood City to Menlo Park. If this goes through it wouldn't shock me at all to see a very substantial number of these homes sold in short order to parents looking to enter the district. I don't see how this benefits Redwood City or Las Lomitas or really anyone other than the property owners on these streets.

Posted by Las Lomitas Parent
a resident of Woodside: Woodside Heights
on Oct 5, 2009 at 5:33 pm

Oh and by the way, the article itself notes that Las Lomitas spends $14k a year on its students and that adding these parcels to the district would add $94k in property taxes. I'm not a math major or anything, but I'm pretty sure that wouldn't even pay for the 8 kids who currently live there, much less the 75+ (or whatever) who could eventually move into the district. Plust the $94k is based on $40m in assessed value according to the chief petitioner (a Mr. Mallinckrodt). Looks to me like they are nowhere close to generating that kind of money now for the district unless a lot of these homes get sold and reassessed (leading you back to the point that this will result in a lot more than 8 kids moving into the district). I would agree we don't need to build walls where none exist, but I also don't think we need to build rich people their own personal bridges either.

Posted by anonymous
a resident of another community
on Oct 5, 2009 at 8:35 pm

You are certainly entitled to your opinion, but you are not entitled to the facts. And when you continue to perpetrate totally false and improbable information that there are (or will be or even could be) 75 students from this tiny neighborhood, you are guilty of the same type of polarizing politics that most of us (and I suspect you as well) abhor.

Here are the facts. There are about 4,000 parcels in the Las Lomitas School District and those homes send about 1,100 students to district schools (I've heard that about 500 other students go to private and religious schools, which would be a similar percentage as other districts in the area). I'm not a math major either, but I'm pretty sure that means that each household sends - on average - about 0.28 students to the district's schools.

If this small neighborhood of 43 homes reflected the district's baseline demographics PERFECTLY, they would send 11.8 students to the public schools. They currently have just 8 school age students and you can assume 2 or 3 of them will come from families that will always prefer religious or private schools. With a turnover of just 2 home sales per year (again, the average over a very long period of time), it will take a few decades to even reach 12.

To get to your number of 75 "school age" students, using the district's own average, this same neighborhood would either have to grow to 273 homes or have a student density per parcel that is six times that of the rest of the district.

Neither, of course, is even remotely possible.

And now that you know the facts, you should have the intellectual honesty not to repeat something that is so outlandishly untrue.

Posted by Yet another LL parent
a resident of Portola Valley: Ladera
on Oct 5, 2009 at 10:02 pm

Nice line about building bridges for rich people!!

[Portion deleted.] Whoever it is, obviously s/he is one of the petitioners pushing HARD to upgrade his property at the expense of others. Perhaps there's a bit of shame energizing your arguments? I can't believe someone can be so selfish and not be aware of it.

I've been told that our street in Ladera had 50 kids on it in the 70s. Now there are 11: 6 babies, 4 at LL or LE, and 1 in private school. 2/3rds of the houses belong to empty nesters, and we're close to the point where a bunch will move to retirement homes. Over the past 11 years there have been lots of home sales, and families with young kids have moved into every house that's sold. We're clearly seeing a generational turn-over bringing in many more children. And the patern shows the number of kids could triple.

If the petitioning neighborhood also has most homes occupied by older people (only 8 kids shows that), the big (free) increase in home value might lead those older to cash in -- they can buy an equal or better house and keep some of the capital gains. It's obvious that the buyers will be families. And that's why people are projecting numbers like 75+ kids. It's reality, not hostility.

I wonder if the petitioners have been paying enough attention to Las Lomitas to know the administration and parents are already tense and anxious about growing enrollment and over-crowding. Las Lomitas is maxed out on building space: the fire hydrant system won't allow further expansion. If enrollment growth increases like projections, there would have to be a massive effort in getting bonds passed and additional fundraising.

You might think we're being exclusive but we're really saying this isn't a good time to increase our existing problems. Move on over to Ladera: tons of kids, awesome neighborhood socializing, a great place to be. Lots of interesting houses, so you can get big and grand or cozy and compact. It's the obvious solution to your desire to be included.

On the other hand, it's hard to have any respect for someone so blatantly selfish. Goodness sakes, what a bold move to push local government to increase your house value!! If education were the true issue, someone as creative as you seem to be, would find a way to move across the district line. That would be simple to achieve, if you really wanted your kids to go to Las Lomitas, have a short trip to school, and live in a neighborhood where all the kids know each other from school. That's the right thing to do, not this farce that can only be motivated by greed. Parents who want to put their kids in certain schools, especially public schools, find ways to do it.

Posted by Just asking
a resident of Menlo Park: Stanford Weekend Acres
on Oct 6, 2009 at 9:01 am

Carbon impact is cited as one of the reasons for the change- if this is such a priority for these families then why are none of the 8 taking the lowest carbon-emission option of Selby Lane Elementary? Wherever these children are currently going (Trinity, Phillips Brooks, Keys, etc.) is farther away from their homes than Selby Lane.

Posted by anonymous
a resident of another community
on Oct 6, 2009 at 11:13 am

First, I'm not a part of the petitioners, I don't live in that area and I don't know a single family that lives there. I just don't like to hear people making ridiculous and untrue arguments - about health care, high speed rail, development on El Camino Real or school redistricting.

You've jumped to the conclusion that these petitioners are motivated by greed; I jump to the conclusion that you want to close the door behind you and keep your safe, quasi-private school to yourself regardless of veracity of their petition and the fact that it's truly a handful of children.

But, despite all of the evidence I provided (which was easy to find), you insist on raising that boogie man that there are really 75 kids laying in wait and we can't possibly have that. Never mind that it's totally unsubstantiated - even by the LL Districts own numbers! It's truly absurd and you never challenged my numbers because you can't.

Throughout San Mateo County, the number of public school children per household ranges from about .20 to .40. For you to suggest that this tiny enclave - which is incredibly stable - will suddenly skyrocket to 1.75 children per household is just beyond the pale. The singular absurdity of it got my attention and caused me to post here. I would venture to say that there isn't a neighborhood in the country with that ratio. And despite your comment (although you remarkably cited that two-thirds of the homes don't have any children), there certainly isn't one in the district.

You also forget that people with children also sell their homes and that a buyer can just as easily be an empty nester or retired couple. I could make the argument that expensive homes are out of the economic reach of new families with school age children and are more easily afforded by older, more financially stable couples.

You also assume that this initiative is driven by those older couples and dismissive of parents who simply want their kids to go attend their closest, neighborhood school. On one sentence, you assert that this neighborhood is comprised of older couples and empty nesters who have lived here for years and enjoy those incredibly low property taxes and in the next sentence suggest they are just laying in wait to unload their home! That makes no sense at all. The property taxes alone in a new home would be several multiples of their current mortgage (if any) and tax payments. So which is this - a bunch of greedy oldsters who want to cash in or some stable empty nesters who are perfectly content to live there.

No, it's easy to dismiss this as greed. I don't know them, but I give parents more credit than that and I think they just want what's best for their children. Just like you and me.

Argue the merits - there are plenty on your side. You only demean your position with absurd claims.

Posted by Las Lomitas Parent
a resident of Woodside: Woodside Heights
on Oct 6, 2009 at 12:22 pm

I'm going to take the point on the number of public school children per household in Las Lomitas (although I admit I haven't verified what you are saying) but I'm afraid it's really your arguments that don't hang together. Let's see, we have a neighborhood with 8 total students currently, all of whom are in private school, yet they are moving heaven and earth to rewrite of district lines. Why? Clearly not because they want to pull their current 8 children out of their schools (which I assume they like or they would have bought homes somewhere currently in Las Lomitas or another acceptable school district). Plus, even if they wished to disrupt their kids like this, that's only a couple of homes out of the 43. Why are the other 41 houses joining in this petition? The only explanation which is patently obvious is to increase their property values. Why do they wish to do this? To sell their homes at a higher price than they would get today. Who will these homes atract? People with school age children. What will this result in? Way more than 8 kids joining the District.

Demographics shift slowly in the existing neighborhoods over time because there is no systemic trigger. That is to say, each individual homeowner decides to move for personal reasons. This keeps a huge influx from occuring into a given school all at once. By contrast, where within the space of six years these 43 parcels get themselves moved from unincorporated Redwood City to Woodside and get their school district changed this creates a systemic trigger. This rapid change will clearly drive the number of students per household way above what they are for the rest of the district. Is it 75? Who knows. But I'd bet you anything it's many multiples of 8.

I'm also going to note that you have made no effort to address any of the other excellent points others have raised in these pages. Namely:

1. The carbon footprint argument is a joke - La Entrada (not to mention the private shcools they currently attend) are farhter away from these parcels than their current public schoold district.

2. These streets are in no way connected or really part of Woodside Heights. In fact, it's about a 20 minute walk to get from there to Eleanor, across and along some very busy roads (the Alameda, Woodside Road, etc.). The idea that kids are being split from their playmates through the districting is goofy.

3. Las Lomitas spends $14k per pupil. The petitioners themselves say they're bringing $94k in property taxes (which seems vastly overstated based on what I'm seeing from the tax records). Even if it's true, it wouldn't even pay for the 8 current students, much less 75.

4. How do you let these folks in and not set a precedent for letting in the dozens of other isolated parcels that don't neatley fall into the current districting?

5. Las Lomitas and La Entrada are bursting at the seems. They are using a ton of temporary trailers to house who they have right now. There is just no more room. Oh and by the way, the argument posted by anonymous that we Las Lomitas parents want to pull up the bridge after we've all walked in is just maddening. For one thing, we bought our homes (and paid more for them than these folks, might I add). We didn't just stumble into Las Lomitas - we chose it and, more importantly, we work hard to preserve it against the deprivations of government budget cuts. We do this by raising money through the foundation, volunteering, etc. The fact that Las Lomitas is good isn't an accident.

Posted by a past parent
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Oct 6, 2009 at 12:41 pm

I moved to the Las Lomitas District for the quality of their schools. I paid the price and downsized my home significantly to insure the quality of my kids' educations. It was my choice. I paid. I received. I am thankful. My kids learned from those actions where they observed choices and compromises, and they appreciate it now.

You get what you pay for. And you are responsible for the choices you make. Want LLESD? ...Move into the district.

Posted by What they deleted. . .and more
a resident of Portola Valley: Ladera
on Oct 6, 2009 at 12:44 pm

The editor deleted a bit of my last post because I made a guess that the anonymous poster is from the petitioning neighborhood, is one of the people pushing the petition, and has the name mentioned in the article (and another post) as the lead petitioner, who also lead the petition to "move" from Redwood City to Woodside.

Anonymous just posted claiming that s/he is a disinterested observer. Huh. Cuz the amount of time/energy/annoyance put in those posts seems like a lot for someone who doesn't have skin in the game. Seems like a talk-radio kind of thing. . . But I thought that philosophy is that government is bad and wasteful, so wasting government resources in this way would be out of character?? I totally don't get this kind of strident righteousness and don't claim to understand American politics/culture so don't get het up if I'm all wrong.

Empty nesters moving out when their property value soars due to a windfall is very rational and a proven pattern. Say you've lived in your house for 40 years and have been retired for 15. Low tax, no mortgage, so it makes sense to stay put. But it would be nice to move to a different community, for any number of reasons. Then you get a windfall of hundreds of thousands of dollars. Lots more freedom of choice may be just the thing to push you to make the decision. Besides, you remember how great the street was when your kids were young, families in every house. Now that your house is in a better school district and the realtors will be pushing it as a family street, maybe it's time to move.

I have not claimed in any way that it's the empty nesters pushing for redistricting. (Nor have I said they are the greedy ones). I predict, based on what's happening in Ladera, that if the neighborhood changes districts, it will speed the process of generational turnover.

If you re-read my last post, you will note that I am describing my street in Ladera as having no children in 2/3rds of the houses. I know all my neighbors and know who has kids.

You acknowledge that you are jumping to a conclusion that I/we want to close the doors to our school. No. In fact, I'm inviting people to buy/rent houses in the district if they want to attend Las Lomitas schools.

People without kids do move all the time. Here in Ladera, however, most of the houses selling in the last 2 years have been bought by families with kids. There are 3 small Eichlers on our street that have each sold 2 or 3 times this decade. Each buying family has had kids. One family moved back to their home country; the others bought bigger houses in Ladera. I think the county and the school districts numbers are unrealistic, because I expect those 2 streets would become magnets for families. If I'm correct, the streets would be anomalous to general county patterns. I don't know the houses, but the Google view shows the lots to be smaller than others in Woodside Heights, thus more "middle class." There are other unincorporated streets off the Alameda (between Las Lomitas and Avy) that have become crowded with kids. It's like the 50s in there, white picket fences, kids playing in the streets and all!!

Many many families wanting to send their kids to our PUBLIC schools (perhaps private school quality, but in no way quasi-private) manage to find places to live here and ways to afford it. If your number one goal is to have kids at Las Lomitas, there are so many options, from some run-down apartments to incredible grandeur. If you're really committed to it, you make it happen yourself -- not by buying out of distrct and using expensive government processes to teleport your house into a redefined city and district.

The district lines are a type of rule. Show your children how to live in society by following the rules, instead of changing the rules for your specific benefit. Grrrr, that kind of selfish behavior drives me nuts! If these families didn't have clearly adequate resources to take care of their families, it wouldn't be quite as annoying. Maybe if they'd tried for the school change before the city change it wouldn't look so aggressively greedy.

Maybe they borrowed too much against their homes' (fallen) values, can't sell, and can't afford private school anymore. That's an unhappy story, but there are still decent choices, like the great elementary charter in RWC, or home-schooling for a year or more. But don't seek a public solution to a private problem.

If our enrollment keeps growing, one of the leased campuses will have to be reclaimed and reopened. Huge expense! Huge workload! Huge processes of decision-making and cost-cutting and public input --and stress. If a third school has to be opened, I am certain I'll be on the front lines: lobbying for a bond, soliciting for private donations, making my own as-much-as-we-can-afford donation. I would be so much happier to continue volunteering in the classroom, having playdates at my home, having some unstructured time for my family. Having worked on the last parcel tax effort, I know the time and toll it takes. As much as I'd like Ladera school open again, I'd rather the process didn't have to happen. If we weren't so close to the tipping point, I don't think I'd care much. As it is, I don't like that tipping point brought closer by a few people seeking a public solution to a private problem, who don't seem to be thinking about the larger picture (including the likelihood of neighborhood demographics changing) in their quest for having a grander life without working harder for it.

Posted by to be fair
a resident of Menlo Park: Stanford Hills
on Oct 6, 2009 at 1:18 pm

Granted, the Las Lomitas District spends 14K per child, but they also expect and get 1K per child donated to the foundation, so, assuming this new neighborhood wants to join, they really only need to come up with 13K per child in new property taxes. Would the taxes move with them to add to the basic amount allowed by the state? If the amount they quote is correct, even assuming 13K per child, it's a financial burden to the district, added it would push toward reopening Ladera School which would be a huge loss in revenue.

If we were a posh private school and not public, then we could accept these nice folks to our schools for the same price they are paying for their private schools and not worry about district lines, but that isn't allowed. (of course.. .we would still be feeling a pinch in the space that is needed.)

Posted by The facts
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Oct 6, 2009 at 1:26 pm

It seems like the petitioners find themselves in the middle of the math that we did before buying the Las Lomitas school district. If you assume 2 kids on average, $22K per year per child for private school, 8 years of elementary/middle school, that's $352K of private school tuition.

The houses within Las Lomitas aren't always that much higher, but close to it as the market shows the dynamic of people willing to pay more for a house to avoid private school tuition.

Perhaps each and every parcel owner from the petitioning area should be required to pay into the district $352K to help cover the new buildings and teachers required to educate the 75+ students. Since they claim to not be in this for financial gain, the $352K they pay would be offset by higher increased home values. It would be a net wash for them financially. But of course they are in it for financial gain, and are all looking to pocket that $352K as well as avoiding paying $44K per year for those with school-aged children.

Posted by anonymous
a resident of another community
on Oct 6, 2009 at 3:24 pm

First, I assure you the representations I made are honest. I don't live in that area and I don't know the petitioners.

Las Lomitas Parent - your arguments (#1 thorugh #5) are excellent and those should be the basis for this discussion. The petitioners should win or lose on those points and I only wish posters could resist making outlandish accusations. My main point has been that there aren't 75 kids waiting in the bushes. There is no evidence to support that assertion. It's not even close.

As far as "multiples" of the current 8 kids, again, the average for the LL District is 0.275 students per household (1100 students divided by 4000 households). Although you and your immediate neighbors may have 3 kids in the LL schools, the next dozen homes in a row may have no school age kids at all. It's a average number, remember? The 43 homes in this area should have about 12 kids. If it were even 50% more than that number, you'd have a statistical anomaly of historic proportions.

What they deleted - that you for the clarification about the deleted posts. I resist the temptation to make ad hominem attacks against other posters and I appreciate the courtesy. I assure you my intentions are simply to expose the absurd claims.

As far as your comment that "...empty nesters moving out when their property value soars due to a windfall is very rational and a proven pattern..." and that's true. But I think that experience applies to general home price inflation, not when a specific neighborhood, especially a such a small one, experiences a change.

But fortunately, there is a perfect comparable, nearby neighborhood that ran this experiment for us. When Emerald Hills redistricted from Redwood City into the Woodside School District - and you'd have to admit that this example is pretty much on point - housing prices and sales volume in Emerald Hills actually increased LESS than other neighborhoods for the five year period following redistricting. So the Emerald Hills community "improved" (my characterization) their school district and fewer families sold their homes and those that did didn't make out as well as other nearby neighborhoods that didn't redistrict. Those are absolutely true numbers.

No, I refuse to believe that parents want to make these changes to improve their property values. I think they make them for their children.

You know, one day, Las Lomitas may find itself petitioning officials to change their high school district into, say, a newly formed Atherton Menlo Park High School District. At that time, the Sequoia District will probably tell you that you're just trying to improve your property values. And they will be just as wrong.

Posted by The facts
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Oct 6, 2009 at 3:44 pm


If we stick with the current 8 children and assume 2 per house, that means that less than 10% of the houses in question have an interest in this from a scholastic perspective. The other 90%+ have nothing to gain but property value.

Posted by anonymous
a resident of another community
on Oct 6, 2009 at 3:57 pm

The district-wide averages are meaningless when considering any one neighborhood. That average includes West Atherton (skews much older with few school aged children), Sharon Heights (many apartments and townhouses = more retired people and pre-children transitory families) and even some senior-only housing. When you look at the realtively more affordable single-family house areas (Ladera, along Alameda) the school children per home shoots way up. That's what this area would become if the petitioners had their way, so the numbers would be way above any district wide average.

Posted by anonymous
a resident of another community
on Oct 7, 2009 at 9:01 am

Anonymous here (and I'm the original anonymous - I'm not sure who posted above).

Reply to "The facts" - With regard to the other homeowners who stand to benefit from this change, I'm not sure they've even signed the petition, are you? As I've said, I don't the petitioners. But you are absolutely correct, they will probably benefit from this change. But please don't forget I pointed out the Emerald Hills experience. After redistricting from Redwood City to Woodside (and that's a pretty fair comparison here), there property sales and values didn't even track with other nearby neighborhoods.

With regard to the other "anonymous" posting that "district-wide averages are meaningless," respectfully, you couldn't be more wrong. As I've said, you are certainly entitled to your opinion, but not the facts.

The number I cited for public students per household is actually remarkably constant nationwide. In California, there are about 13 million households and about 4.5 million children of elementary school age. That ratio is 0.34 - about the midpoint of the national range of 0.2 to 0.4. This number is true whether you live in densely populated areas (including downtown Los Angeles) or rural areas. You may not believe it, but there are densely populated areas that have very few children (such as downtown San Francisco), too.

As I said, you can surely find a street that has a large number of families that send a large number of kids to the same school. But that ignores the distribution that there is another street right next to it that has none.

This area isn't so different from the rest of the district - including the price of its homes. Is is reasonable to assume the petitioner's demographics will ultimately reflect those of the entire district. If so, the 43 parcels will send about 12 kids to public schools and have another 6 that go to private schools. However, to get to these numbers - especially when only 2 homes sell each year (and not all sales represent conversions from homes without school age children to homes with school age children!) - will take an extremely long time.

Posted by The facts
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Oct 7, 2009 at 9:43 am

Looking through these comments there don't seem to be any from the petitioners or people in the area in question. If anyone in that group is reading this, it would be helpful to understand:
-Did you know what school district you were zoned for when you bought/rented your house? If so, did you plan to send your kids to Redwood City schools or private schools?
-What has changed between then and now that has brought about this request?

Posted by Liz
a resident of Woodside: Mountain Home Road
on Feb 16, 2010 at 10:46 pm

I have lived in Woodside for 40 yrs and grew up here and see changes that even turn me off. MP folks are from the new money and that's the focus. I have friends in MP and also have friends who live in these two cul de sacs and their situation is very unique after taking to time to talk to them and reading the petition. The school district wraps around their roads (literally) with Alameda and the hs on the other sides. The County Board who voted on this petition even acknowledge through the voting that it had nothing or little to do with these folks doing it for home values. I wish our friends there could attend Woodside elementary as they have a lot to offer and are not new money folks who only care about themselves and home values. In fact, they can be snotty but in fact are very humble to consider sending their kids to a public school considering that their family can afford any schools. They are the kind of folks who would give a lot to your school but without needing anyone knowing about it. And no, they're not going to move to get into your schools. That's funny.

Posted by Bart S.
a resident of Atherton: other
on Nov 5, 2010 at 1:49 am

Las lomitas is over rated, not diversified and the kids are programmed. No creativity, this is the 21st century api scores isn't going to cut it. Look at the parents debating above and you can tell they're negative snobby "rich wannabes". It's a public school.....exactly.

Posted by anomynous
a resident of Woodside School
on Nov 5, 2010 at 1:52 am

With your "great schools", how are those properties holding up?

Posted by Jack in the Box
a resident of another community
on Nov 19, 2010 at 11:18 pm

All kids should have the option and right to go to the school of their choice, esp. if it's within their neighborhood. You people are lame selfish and typical snobs. Get a life.

Posted by Julie
a resident of Woodside: Woodside Heights
on Jun 5, 2011 at 6:08 am

I was at one of these public hearings and was impressed with Mr. Mallinckrod's presentation. I don't live within the petition area. I was there to get informed on the petition.

Basically RWCSD don't want other neighborhoods to petition but knows that this is a legitimate request. They also claim to know who these people associate with in their community. Yes, they had a chance to do the right thing but won't because of "fear" of setting precedence. Typically government behavior from those who can't think on their own. RWCSD doesn't loose any money since none of the kids go to there schools.

LLSD on the other hand also was teaming up with the RWCSD to fight this but also knows that it's was a legitmitate petition. The superintendents had their talks on the side to fight this. Mr. Hartwig was claiming hardship to his district and also that these homes were NOT in the Woodside Heights neighborhood (an untrue statement as they are and I am in the Heights). Of course in the press, he doesn't claim to take a position, more PR. The administration and a mother also claim that these homeowners want to increase their property values. Well, last month a vacant lot in their neighborhood went for almost 1.5M and another home is listed for over 6M.

School districts wonder why they don't have the support from their communities. I can also see why the schools are broken, there's no body really looking out for the customers, the kids.

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