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High school board OKs shift of East Palo Alto students to M-A

Original post made on Oct 10, 2013

If Menlo-Atherton High School has room, students from East Palo Alto (in the Ravenswood City Elementary School District) now have the right to request a transfer to M-A without having to participate in the lottery associated with the open-enrollment program.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Thursday, October 10, 2013, 11:06 AM

Comments (51)

Posted by long time resident
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Oct 10, 2013 at 12:45 pm

I think people keep confusing the adjustments to open enrollment policies that SUHSD voted on this week with the longer term planning for enrollment growth where boundary changes are needed to manage enrollment and improve the articulation between elementary feeder schools and high schools by reducing the current splintering of elementary feeder schools among multiple high schools. I was at SUHSD superintendent Jim Lianides' presentation of his recommendations for changing boundaries this week, and the District's longer term plan for MA essentially involves 1) leaving Las Lomitas and MPCSD districts feeding entirely into MA, 2) switching the areas of Ravenswood that currently feed into Carlmont and Woodside to feed into MA so that all of Ravenswood feeds into MA, and 3) taking those students who reside within the Redwood City Elementary District boundary of out of MA. The net/net is that MA grows larger, but the demographics are unchanged as the increase in students from the change in boundary of Ravenswood (a district where enrollment is flat) is matched by increase in students from Las Lomitas and MPCSD (whose enrollments have already grown 40% in recent years). There will still be ample opportunity for choice for all students in the District who prefer something other than their assigned home school within the now updated guidelines of open enrollment.

Posted by Parent from NFO
a resident of Menlo Park: Fair Oaks
on Oct 10, 2013 at 6:54 pm

From what I am understanding, the proposed changes will not reduce the traffic congestion around M-A or the number of students attending BUT will significantly impact the children the North Fair Oaks community. Our children will be driven out of their community to attend schools that are not in their neighborhood. Although our children will have the opportunity to "apply" for a transfer, it seems as though it would be a long shot at best and the NFO children would then be the ones spending all their time commuting. Changes to the boundary lines would contribute significantly to a disjointed sense of community.

Posted by Dt
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Oct 11, 2013 at 6:11 am

All this to accommodate the Los Lomitas parents that don't want to send their kids to under enrolled Woodside HS, which is closer? Don't you think Woodside's programs would expand if it has more of the LL kids?

Property values have little to do with it. Look at the values of the Portola and Woodside properties.

Posted by Parent of Las Lomitas
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Oct 11, 2013 at 8:29 am

As a parent of a 7th grader and a 2nd grader in the Las Lomitas school district, I am really tired of reading "parents of Las Lomitas do not want to send their kids to Woodside." This school board and this superintendent thinks that a handful of parents yelling at them in one meeting represent all of us and they do not. They do not represent me at all. When the time comes, I will be filling my open enrollment form to transfer my child to Woodside, because nobody has given me a good reason why I should drive my child across time to an overcrowded school when we have a perfectly good school up the road in Woodside 10 minutes away. And many of my fellow parents think the same.
The school board and the superintendent should rake the time to figure out what it is best for the Las Lomitas community and the district as whole rather than only listen to whoever shouts louder.

Posted by LL parent
a resident of Portola Valley: Ladera
on Oct 11, 2013 at 11:05 am

Thanks "Parent of Las Lomitas" for sounding the quiet voice of the LLESD community. Our well-fed, well-equipped kids will do just fine at Woodside or M-A. The greater good needs to be considered as the district assesses options. And even if LLESD kids were to be split between the two HS's because it made geographic and demographic sense, our little angels would adapt and build a new community of friends, just like countless other HS'ers do every year.

Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Oct 11, 2013 at 11:07 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"The greater good needs to be considered as the district assesses options."

Thank you for your wisdom and graciousness.

Posted by fwiw
a resident of Woodside: other
on Oct 11, 2013 at 11:42 am

I have to admit, until this latest discussion, I had never before mapped the boundary of Las Lomitas. I just did so now, which is trivial to do on the Redfin realty website.

And OMG, you have got to be kidding me. I had always assumed that Las Lomitas stretched much deeper into the central/east side of Atherton. After all, why else would LL students even be attending MA at all. But if Redfin's picture is correct, 98% (or more) of the houses in LL are closer to Woodside High than MA. It boggles my mind that houses that literally abut WHS are set up to ferry across town over to MA.

This current layout defies commonsense. I, for one, will be appalled if the SUHSD board does not bring LL over to WHS during the boundary changes. MA is over capacity. WHS is under capacity. Fixing this gerrymandering seems like a no brainer to me.

And for those concerned about the change, I say try it you may like it. The WHS parents from Woodside Elementary that I've spoken to really are happy and satisfied with WHS. Our only complaint is that we'd like the International Baccalaureate Diploma program, which may force us to try to go to Sequoia HS when it's our turn.

Posted by Another parent of LL
a resident of Atherton: West of Alameda
on Oct 11, 2013 at 2:29 pm

Parents of LL, well said! My children are only in elementary school right now, but the idea of sending them to M-A while Woodside is few blocks away is just maddening!

Posted by Another LL and M.A. Parent
a resident of Atherton: other
on Oct 11, 2013 at 5:41 pm

With one child currently at M.A. and two still in LL district, I wish this discussion had begun earlier last year. If it had my oldest would be at Woodside. M.A. is crowded and will only be getting more crowded with the current plan. My younger two will be going to Woodside.
And yes, FWIW, your boundary map is accurate. LL district used to be assigned to Woodside. The current LL Principal attended LL district and Woodside high school.

Posted by parent
a resident of Woodside: other
on Oct 12, 2013 at 3:31 pm

As a Woodside parent of two elementary aged children, I can't tell you how thrilled I am to hear that at least part of the Las Lomitas community feels that Woodside High School is a sensible choice for them.

The lack of parental support is a reason, I believe, that many Woodside families do not send their children to their public high school. If we have more actively involved, supportive parents carrying over into high school (Las Lomitas AND Woodside families going to Woodside HS) all of our childrens high school experiences will be greatly enhanced.

I want to send my child to public high school because I believe that exposure to diverse groups will serve as an advantage to our kids in the future. I have only heard wonderful things from parents I've spoken to who send their children to Woodside High School. The campus is roomy, beautiful and not overcrowded. It will only get better with a more balanced socioeconomic makeup that boundary changes would help to bring.

Posted by MA parent
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Oct 12, 2013 at 3:53 pm

It's gratifying to see that so many Las Lomitas parents are prepared for their kids to be guinea pigs at Woodside. Meanwhile, the local private schools are seeing record numbers of applicants. They may be the true beneficiaries of this gerrymandering, and at $40k+/year per child, why shouldn't they open their doors to as many kids as they can accept?

Posted by year?
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Oct 12, 2013 at 4:05 pm

The superintendent of Sequoia, whose recent performance addressing/avoiding this issue at Hillview said clearly that such a change would not take place until 2015/2016 year. Dave's article implies that it will take effect 2014/2015 year. Dave, is that correct? Thanks for covering this issue.

Posted by Neighbor
a resident of another community
on Oct 12, 2013 at 5:43 pm

MA Parent - where are the stats that show parents running for the doors just to avoid Woodside High School? Or is that just your assumption?

If you divide test scores across socioeconomic lines they are more or less the same at MA and Woodside. Woodside is known to have more of a middle sector of student than MA, which is very polarized in terms of learning - from my understanding. Those WHS middle students would probably account for some of the slightly lower APIs among whites.

Posted by Realist
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Oct 12, 2013 at 10:07 pm

Spin this any way you want but it is bad for M-A and good for Woodside. Four years from now the LL kids will be going to Woodside because they want to. If you attended M-A in the the late 70's when EPA kids were bused to M-A you know what I am talking about. The irony here is that the rich elites that force their view of the world on everyone exempt themselves from the consequences. In this case by sending their kids to private school. Those who can't afford it don't have that choice. These people don't ever have to deal with the realities they help create and know nothing about. Selby Lane school located in ATHERTON is a perfect example. Last I heard there are not any white kids left. How did that happen if it is located in Atherton? The school ranks at the absolute bottom. Why don't any of the white people that live around that school and are zoned for it send their kids there? It is OK for others to "benefit from diversity" but not them.

Posted by MA parent
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Oct 12, 2013 at 10:37 pm

Talk to admissions staff at Sacred Heart and Menlo. Or ask parents who have attended the recent Open Houses. The parents of fourth and fifth graders are considering a preemptive move because they don't want to be in that first wave of kids at WHS.

Back to M-A. Realist is correct. M-A had a reputation as a school for drug addicts in the late 70s. The school has slowly climbed out of that pit and become the stellar institution it is today. Even just a few years ago, it was in PI status -- in danger of being taken over by the state, and there were occasional lockdowns because of guns on campus. Under Zito, it's become a high functioning school. A Menlo education at M-A prices.

Since I'm not a rich elite, I'm just lucky that my kid is already at M-A and won't be a victim of this particular bastardizationof political correctness.

Posted by enough
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Oct 13, 2013 at 9:14 am

Why hasn't John Arrillaga stepped in to fund the building of a new High School in East Menlo/East Palo Alto? He can name it after himself - Arrillaga High School. It would solve so many problems. We don't need any more housing, and we don't need any more office buildings, but an Arrillaga project that did not add to crowding, but instead reduced crowding, would be very welcomed. What about it, John?

Posted by Menlo Park Parent
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Oct 13, 2013 at 9:28 am

This proposal could be the beginning of basic fairness for the children of Ravenswood. I am a Menlo Park parent and it has always seemed as if the various school districts and towns in the area have taken a sort of 'separate and inadequate' approach to Ravenswood children. Ravenswood is comprised of East Menlo Park and East Palo Alto; they are an extension of our community. The children of Ravenswood are our children and they deserve an education that will give them a fair chance. It makes no sense to bus them past M-A to high schools much further away (45 mins+ to 1+ hour bus ride each way). Simply put, this is unfair.

Furthermore, M-A already takes the greatest number of Ravenswood high school students. This means that M-A is already becoming the de facto community high school for Ravenswood. This should be formalized for all of the children of Ravenswood - it would make it easier for M-A to then coordinate with the feeder schools (in Menlo Park and EPA) and thereby improve the preparedness and transition of these students to M-A. M-A already coordinates well with the Menlo Park feeder schools and M-A could/should do the same with the feeder schools in EPA. It is eminently possible to create excellent educational outcomes for all our children if we work at it.

On the other hand, if we continue to overlook the children of Ravenswood (ie treat them as charity cases that we allow into 'our' school), then we should not be surprised with the consequences as they graduate and most likely join the ranks of the working-poor. The gated communities of the future will not insulate our children and grandchildren from the challenges that will continue to grow in our society if we allow greater isolation and polarization between the 'haves' and the 'have nots'.

The children of Ravenswood and their parents want better than that and we should too. We can organize our resources and energy so that all of the children of our community have the opportunity to become strong contributors to our society. Not only would it be smart to invest in our community, it is also the right and fair thing to do.

Posted by MA parent
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Oct 13, 2013 at 10:52 am

I love all the politically correct strategies suggested by people who are probably afraid to set foot in the Ravenswood district.

I have no problem moving all the Ravenswood kids to M-A. Right now, the majority of Ravenswood kids drop out of high school, and if more Ravenswood students attend M-A, well, the dropout rate for the school will be even higher.

Anyone who talks about "coordinating with feeder schools" is not aware of the schools efforts in that direction now. Or met with the Ravenswood superintendent to discuss these issues, as I have. This is a problem that no amount of political correctness will fix.

The only real solution is to build a high school east of 101. A school that is geared to the needs of most Ravenswood students. Since the board has sidestepped that option, then we can be reasonably sure that M-A will weaken, the Ravenswood students will still fail to complete high school, and the private schools will be able to raise their fees however high they want!

Posted by Menlo Park parent
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Oct 13, 2013 at 11:44 am

I expressed my opinion of what is right and fair. The poster by the name of 'MA parent' seems to want to discredit my view - and the view of others that don't think the same - because he/she assumes we don't have valid experience. I can't speak for others but I will clarify my perspective, I live in Menlo Park AND I have volunteered in various ways with children and families in East Palo Alto for several decades and I know a few of the principals and administrators in Ravenswood.

I am an executive in Silicon Valley now, but my parents had very little formal education (6th grade only) and when I was a child we experienced extreme poverty and neighborhoods with drugs and violence much more extreme than anything I ever saw or read about in East Palo Alto. Education made the difference for my siblings and I. We were lucky - all of us were helped by various programs and volunteers along the way. We went to the best Universities and now are in positions to make a much stronger contribution back to the communities where we live - including paying significantly higher taxes because our incomes allow it.

From everything that I have experienced directly with the children and the parents of Ravenswood - I know it is possible for us to make educational equity a reality in our community. Again, it is not only the fair and right thing to do, it is the best investment we can make in our society.

Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Oct 13, 2013 at 12:28 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

" I know it is possible for us to make educational equity a reality in our community. Again, it is not only the fair and right thing to do, it is the best investment we can make in our society."

As a long time Atherton resident whose son was moved from a private school to Encinal and who then graduated from M-A I whole heartedly agree. A community is judged not by what it does for the few but for what is does for every child.

Posted by MA parent
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Oct 13, 2013 at 12:45 pm

First, very commendable to volunteer in your community. I've done it. I've also run a couple of child-serving organizations in the Ravenswood area. Transitioned from my high-paying tech career because -- having grown up in relative poverty, first gen American, transformative educational experiences -- I was idealistic too. No more.

Most families in Ravenswood don't value education. That is the real elephant in the room, and that's what the administrators and teachers will tell you, when they are being candid. That's why so many kids drop out of school. There are upwardly mobile exceptions, but most of those kids have savvy parents who get them into private schools where they get the kind of attention they will never get at a comprehensive public high school.

Ravenswood students need an educational program that recognizes these issues and addresses them directly. I suppose you could say "well, let's make M-A that school!" Possible, but M-A does not have infinite resources, and it will then fail to serve the children in the surrounding middle class communities.

As far as I am aware, no one has made any real effort to educate the Ravenswood parents, many of whom don't seem to understand that they are their children's first and best teachers. It is frustrating for any educator to have to deal with parents who expect the school to do all the work. That kind of cultural transformation will have to occur if we expect any lasting change.

But Ravenswood HS would be a great first step.

P.S. Education made the difference for my siblings and me. Not "I."

Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Oct 13, 2013 at 12:58 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"Ravenswood students need an educational program that recognizes these issues and addresses them directly. I suppose you could say "well, let's make M-A that school!" Possible, but M-A does not have infinite resources,"

How about spending as much on such an effort as was sent on the Performing Arts Center?

Posted by Realist
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Oct 13, 2013 at 4:35 pm

It is dangerous to impose criteria on which children should have access to what school based on an assessment of the parents worthiness. Would the test be administered to just the Ravenswood parents or would all M-A parents have to be tested for their worthiness before their children are admitted?

Posted by Dave Boyce
Almanac staff writer
on Oct 13, 2013 at 9:13 pm

Dave Boyce is a registered user.

To respond to an earlier request

The change in policy regarding the preferential admission to M-A for East Palo Alto kids is effective for the 2014-15 school year.

The period to choose a high school for the 2014-15 school year begins this month (October) and ends in January. This period includes "adjusted transfer," which is the program that the East Palo Alto kids now use.

Choices made via the adjusted-transfer program are granted before the choices made via the open-enrollment program. This is the essence of the change for East Palo Alto students. Before this change, they had to participate in open enrollment, and many did.

If all the seats at given school are taken by adjusted-transfer requests, then none are left for open enrollment requests. If there were more adjusted-transfer requests than there were seats, those requests remain unfulfilled.

The Las Lomitas students who live in a neighborhood assigned to Woodside High, but who are guaranteed admission to M-A, have exercised that privilege using adjusted-transfer requests, but with one significant difference: Their requests are guaranteed to be fulfilled.

This policy change was done for one reason: to immediately address the decades of inequity dealt to East Palo Alto kids who've been required to take the bus to a distant school.

This policy change is not relevant to the discussion on boundary changes, the enrollment surge, and the conundrums the Sequoia district is facing to resolve all that.

Officials have said there will be more community meetings convened when the board is ready to tackle the enrollment surge and the possibility of a new map of neighborhood-school assignments.

Posted by Kaz
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Oct 13, 2013 at 10:47 pm

What startled me is the 50% student population growth expected at MA over the next 8 years. That's horrible for all the students, no matter the background. Our schools are getting too big!!!

Posted by Dave Boyce
Almanac staff writer
on Oct 14, 2013 at 10:31 am

Dave Boyce is a registered user.

Clarification: There is one element of the new policy affecting East Palo Alto students that bears on the coming enrollment surge.

The shift of East Palo Alto students to Menlo-Atherton is expected to be offset by a shift of some students from North Fair Oaks away from M-A and to Woodside and Sequoia. In interviews, Mr Lianides has referred to this trade as a something close to a wash.

The parameters of all this are not set, in part because the Sequoia board is still working on it, and in part because there is reportedly a section of North Fair Oaks households that would welcome such a change.

But there are also parents from North Fair Oaks who very much want to continue being assigned to M-A. They let the board know of their concerns at a meeting in September.

At least one member of the Sequoia board -- Olivia Martinez -- has acknowledged those concerns and said she sees no problem in trying to find a way to accommodate both groups of households: those who want to stay at M-A and those who would like to switch to Woodside and/or Sequoia.

Posted by another parent
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Oct 14, 2013 at 12:04 pm

Dave Boyce thank you for your comments. Can you clarify the following from your post?

"The Las Lomitas students who live in a neighborhood assigned to Woodside High, but who are guaranteed admission to M-A, have exercised that privilege using adjusted-transfer requests, but with one significant difference: Their requests are guaranteed to be fulfilled."

It seems Las Lomitas residents have a guarantee to M-A and the Ravenswood residents do not. Under the proposed plan the Ravenswood residents would be ahead of other open enrollment request, but they will not have a guarantee to M-A. Under the proposal the Las Lomitas residents would continue with a guarantee to M-A?

Please clarify if this correct and thank you for helping us understand.

Posted by Dave Boyce
Almanac staff writer
on Oct 14, 2013 at 12:17 pm

Dave Boyce is a registered user.

Another parent: You have the essence of it with respect to the guarantee for the Las Lomitas households assigned to Woodside High. That number is small, around 10 or 12 households.

As for the Ravenswood students, the new policy affects only those who live in East Palo Alto. Some Ravenswood students live in Belle Haven, a Menlo Park neighborhood, and they have long been assigned to M-A. They do not need to use the adjusted-transfer program.

And this new policy is not a proposed plan. It is a new policy. The board voted on it and enacted it on a 4-1 vote, with member Carrie DuBois dissenting, as is noted in the story.

Posted by another parent
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Oct 14, 2013 at 3:11 pm

Dave Boyce: Thank you again. I have read this report and others by other reporters and some were written before this decision - hence my confusion. Your clarification is very useful.

Las Lomitas is not being affected at all by this policy change. The change is for a part of Ravenswood and for North Fair Oaks. In the case of North Fair Oaks they wont be assigned to M-A. Many are OK with this, but some are definitely not OK with this. Based on the new policy if they want to attend M-A they will have to go through open enrollment.

Do you have more info on Carrie Dubois opposition to the new policy? From your report:

"Board member Carrie DuBois voted against the change, repeating her longstanding argument that it requires Ravenswood students to make a choice, thus favoring students with the wherewithal to make an informed choice..."

Did she favor a stronger plan for all of Ravenswood to automatically be assigned or guaranteed M-A placement? Or did she favor a different plan?

Posted by clarification
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Oct 14, 2013 at 3:55 pm

Sequoia superintendent clearly said at Hillview that this was a 2015-2016 shift and no one on his board corrected him. This is OUR board at work.

Posted by Dave Boyce
Almanac staff writer
on Oct 14, 2013 at 4:16 pm

Dave Boyce is a registered user.

Please note. The recent change in policy applies to East Palo Alto only. The policy is an interim step to address a historic inequity characterized by the 30 years of busing these kids to Woodside and Carlmont.

The households in North Fair Oaks have not come up specifically in Sequoia board deliberations. It is an unsettled matter.

Let me repeat that. The North Fair Oaks changes in assignment, if and when they come along, are something for the future, something that the Sequoia board will address as it looks at how to cope with the enrollment surge. The details remain to be worked out.

Please do not confuse effects on North Fair Oaks or Las Lomitas or Menlo Park households with a change in policy for East Palo Alto students. They are not tied to each other.

There is one peripheral relationship: As I noted above, Sequoia officials have considered the influx of East Palo Alto students to M-A to eventually be balanced by an outflow of SOME North Fair Oaks students, probably composed of households WHO WANT TO BE REASSIGNED away from M-A.

Who these households are, whether they actually feel this way about M-A, when this is going to happen -- all of this is unknown and will probably remain unknown until the middle of 2014. A lot of community discussion is to be expected before any of this begins to happen.

Posted by question
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Oct 15, 2013 at 5:18 am

Dave: So, this vote ends the busing issue, is that what you are saying? The distinctions between the vote issue and the boundary issue are not very clear, at least to me. As an aside, how will these EPA kids no longer being bussed -- how will they get to MA?

Posted by MA parent
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Oct 15, 2013 at 9:20 am

There's no public transit that makes sense, so a lot of the eastside kids walk over the freeway to get to M-A. Just one more reason to open a high school in the Ravenswood area.

Posted by resident
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Oct 15, 2013 at 11:50 am

That is just rich for MA parent to offer to build those kids their own school - just because bleeding heart liberals don't want those kids in M-A with their own kids. We are already paying to bus some of those kids to further away schools, instead just assign all of them to M-A. It will be the least expensive option and if M-A is truly a good school then it will figure out how to educate them.

Posted by Trying to take it all in
a resident of Portola Valley: Ladera
on Oct 15, 2013 at 1:31 pm

I attended a meeting at La Entrada last night where Dr. Lianides presented the state of the district and his thoughts for how to balance the numbers. I encourage all of you to attend any similar meeting you can and you will learn much -- especially more details and nuances than come forth here. I also encourage anyone who has attended such a meeting to jump in and correct some of the factual mistakes people are making on this forum (Dave Boyce, thank you for monitoring, reporting and clarifying).

Dr. Lianides informed us last night that he is going to recommend M-A be the assigned school for the elementary districts of Ravenswood, Menlo Park City and Las Lomitas. This will decrease open enrollment slots for kids outside of those districts but it does provide a guarantee for Ravenswood, which is good. All of these students are welcome to apply to any of the other schools and it sounds like the district is working to enhance program offerings district-wide. This is great news as all four schools should have compelling reasons to attend them.

Please stop bashing Las Lomitas District parents. We did not draw the elementary district boundaries and many of us are equally puzzled by them (Why Woodside residents when they have WES? The small town of Atherton has three different district assignments?). Many of us LLESD families are happy to be assigned to WHS if that is best for the community. But we should go wherever we go as a group to bring our attributes to that school. We are a desirable population of academically-ready and parent-supported students. We have invested a lot of time and energy in our students so they succeed at high school and beyond. We are happy to share that success (read active foundation) with whichever population needs support. But we are not working for free: we want to be sure our work and money also serves our own kids. If that is best at M-A or WHS remains to be seen. Dr. Lianides said he will recommend Las Lomitas stay with M-A and it's up to the board to decide.

Posted by downtown parent
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Oct 15, 2013 at 2:18 pm

So is Dr. Lianides saying the math works out to have MPCSD, Ravenswood, and LL all attend M-A, without maxing out the size of the school in a few years? What is the forecasted enrollment under that recommendation?

Does this include or exclude the N. Fair Oaks that is currently mapped to M-A?

Posted by Trying to take it all in
a resident of Portola Valley: Ladera
on Oct 15, 2013 at 2:36 pm

Downtown parent: I don't have my notes with me at work but I do not believe the numbers work out to balance the numbers evenly across the schools. If I remember correctly, Carlmont and M-A are projected to still be higher populations than Sequoia and Woodside.

Anyone else should jump in to clarify this but my recollection is that Dr. Lianides is going to recommend NFO be assigned to Woodside. The other recommendation I remember is the district in San Carlos that is currently split between Carlmont and Sequoia would be assigned to just Carlmont.

Dr. Lianides did say that today 1 out of 3 students in the district applies for a transfer to a school other than their assignment. He did not project how easily those requests will be granted in the future. As I said earlier, they are trying to improve facilities and offerings at all four schools so that populations and course requests are better accommodated. He also said they are looking at creating two small schools that would support instructional themes to be determined and would be additional opportunities for students to apply to.

Posted by Yikes
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Oct 15, 2013 at 2:39 pm

Trying. Thanks for attending the session. I wonder if the others felt as comforted by the meeting. I find it interesting that virtually none of the responses care to comment on the impact, small or large, to MA. Assumption seems to be that MA will figure it out, but lets also recall that enrollment is expected to increase dramatically in the next 6-7 years there. Good education does not just happen without resources and funds. The Supe did not mention MA-specific concerns when he gave his presentation to Hillview, which did not go over well at all.

Posted by MA parent
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Oct 15, 2013 at 2:52 pm

The reason to open a high school for kids in Ravenswood is to serve their them better. The big SUHSD comprehensives are failing those students.

Inflammatory rhetoric aside, our M-A students already attend school with kids from Ravenswood. Students of color are the majority at M-A. And way too many of them drop out. Adding more of them to M-A will just raise the dropout rate. My own M-A students have never been in a class that includes Ravenswood students, except for PE, because those students rarely sign up for honors and AP courses.

Oh, but we can't open a school just for Ravenswood students because it wouldn't have the proper racial mix. So this whole circus is really about hitting the numbers and being PC, not about what is best for the students.

Posted by Trying to take it all in
a resident of Portola Valley: Ladera
on Oct 15, 2013 at 4:02 pm

Agree with you, Yikes, that the population growth has not been addressed to everyone's comfort. Matthew Zito did attend last night's meeting and was given time to present how M-A accommodates the current student population and academic needs. Both Zito and Lianides acknowledged the schools need more and more modern space. They both talked about a few alternative programs that exist today and others they are thinking about. Some facilities updates are being made now but bigger projects need funding the district doesn't have. How and where to build the smaller themed schools were also not addressed last night.

Posted by Downtowner
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Oct 15, 2013 at 5:05 pm

Dr. Lianides' wants La Entrada kids feeding to M-A, not Woodside? Why? WHS is a much easier commute & has space for more students.

There is validity to the earlier post about education not being as highly valued in some EPA households as it is in most West of 101 households. Changes in Ravenswood need to start early, in primary grades, to establish education as a priority among the parents. Some creative community & PTA work is sorely needed.

I thought the Performing Arts Center was funded primarily by community contributions, not district funds? We were barraged with requests for donations for years & a large graph sign on Middlefield Rd kept all passersby apprised of the progress. I agree that it wasn't the best use of all that money.

Eventually, a high school campus in EPA is desirable. Too bad the MP made Facebook provide housing instead of a new HS in east Menlo.

Posted by Parent from PV
a resident of Portola Valley: Brookside Park
on Oct 15, 2013 at 5:11 pm

To "Parent" from Woodside:

Bravo! You will be making the right choice by sending your child to Woodside on so many levels.
1. It is your geographically defined school. That means it is close to home more: opportunity for extracurricular activity; time for hitting the books; time with family and friends; shorter drive when your young one becomes a new driver!
2. The teachers are excellent and prepared for kids on the AP track, interested in tech, business or the environment as well as those that need extra assistance academically.
3. If your child would like to take a class at one of our local community colleges to supplement their WHS learning, there is easy access to the 280 and Canada College or Foothill. As a matter of fact, too many years ago, I had a friend that wanted to take a class that was only offered at Stanford (also easily accessible).
You get the idea, I could keep on with this line of information. Just as M-A parents are happy with their school, you will find just as many happy at WHS, Menlo, SHP and Serra. It is really important that we engage the parents from each community in the "love of school" and school pride just as we hope to engage a student. It is through that confidence that the child will reach their potential.

Posted by MA Parent
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Oct 16, 2013 at 8:25 am

After reading online comments, attending numerous community and school board meetings (including the ones at Hillview and La Entrada), and having multiple conversations with various members of all communities involved, I have to make three points:
First, it is as fair to make the generalization that all students of Ravenswood are below grade and require intensive academic support as it is to generalize that all students of Las Lomitas and Menlo Park belong in AP classes.
Second, it is as fair to say that all parents of East Palo Alto do not value school and the academic success of their children as it is to say that no parents in Menlo Park or Atherton push their children academically to the breaking point.
Third, achievement gap does not equal intelligence gap! In fact, Claude Steele, Dean of the Stanford Graduate School of Education, has concluded that such environments as that in which we all continue to play a part do the most harm to the best and brightest students. Check out his book, “Whistling Vivaldi and Other Clues to How Stereotypes Affect Us.” He could write an entire second book with MA as a case study.

If we can do anything, parents of Las Lomitas, Menlo Park and Ravenswood, let’s ban together to embrace ALL our children in making their collective future brighter. Let’s not settle for what the high school district has assured us – that MA will be no different in 2020 than it is today. Let’s demand that MA become a better school for ALL our students. If we focus on our own childrens' best interests, which understandably we all do, Menlo Park and Las Lomitas families will only benefit from embracing rather than attacking the families of Ravenswood. In this caustic debate, consider the message we are sending our children.

Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Oct 16, 2013 at 8:38 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

" Let's demand that MA become a better school for ALL our students. "

Well said - thank you.

Posted by MA parent
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Oct 16, 2013 at 11:50 am

Do we really think the administration is not doing the best it can to serve the student population? What should they be doing that they aren't doing? I'm curious.

For those of you prone to engage in hyperbole or logical leaps, I don't think anyone here is using the word "all" in any context. I certainly have not. But my experience, having kids at M-A and having worked with hundreds of high school students in the Ravenswood district (can any of you say the same?) suggests that the following are true:

* Students from Ravenswood do not sign up for honors and AP classes. Whether because of their own insecurity or school failure to recognize their latent abilities is debatable. Not all MPCSD and LLESD students take honors/AP courses. Logic 101: "all AP courses comprise almost 100% MPCSD and LLESD students" is not equivalent to "All MPCSD and LLESD students enroll in AP courses."

* The students from Ravenswood who manage to graduate from high school generally fall into one of two categories:

-- They participate in an extracurricular program, like College Track, that keeps them focused on that path.

-- They attend private or charter schools that give them extra attention, which they do not get in the comprehensives. Any of the comprehensives.

Even so, many of these students do not attend college.

* Some Ravenswood parents are focused on academic achievement, and they do their best to get their kids into one of the private or charter schools as quickly as possible. Sadly, the families that stay in the Ravenswood district tend to be those that don't have the same perception of the value of education.

To pretend that all high school students need exactly the same kind of educational structure is illogical bordering on folly. If we truly care about EPA/Belle Haven kids and are not just talking the liberal PC talk, then we would all support the opening of more schools that are geared to the needs of most of those students -- the 95+% that fall between the cracks at the comprehensives.

Posted by Further Clarification
a resident of Hillview Middle School
on Oct 17, 2013 at 1:27 pm

Firstly, just so the folks on this forum know where I'm coming from, I believe it's a travesty that the E.P.A. kids have been bused miles away from their closest school for so many years and do believe that MA should be their default school.

With that said, I am concerned Superintendent Liandes and the Board made the decision to alter this situation THIS coming school year (2014/15)utilizing the adjusted transfer program - guaranteeing admittance of all EPA kids who want to attend MA, up to capacity, by allowing them to take spots that in the past would have been been filled by open enrollment kids (many of whom have a very different demographic composition than the EPA kids), rather than waiting until they could AT THE SAME TIME offset this shift (as the superintendent said - "make it a wash")by moving some of the North Fair Oaks kids with similar educational backgrounds and needs to one of the other district schools.

What continues to be missing in this discussion, the presentation by Dr. Liandes, and some of the Almanac articles is a finer analysis of the numbers. How many 9th grade students will MA accept next year in total? How many more is this than the current year? How many and what percent of kids in the current 9th grade class entered at a proficient and advanced level and how many/what percent weren't prepared? Given the new policy, what's the max (without lots of assumptions that many will choose not to)number of EPA kids that could enter in the 2014/2015 9th grade class? If all of them choose to enter (displacing open enrollment kids and adding to all of the North Fair Oaks kids who still will be in the MA attendance boundary next year ), how many and what percent of total entering 9th grade kids would be entering at a proficient and advanced level and how many/what percent would be entering unprepared?

It's wonderful that Principal Zito and Superintendent Liandes have aspirations for MA to be an even better school down the road than it is today but what about next year's class??? Mr. Boyce, can you or can someone from the District provide the numbers? (to determine proficiency, this past Spring's Star test results can be used)

Thank you in advance to anyone who can provide more clarity about the numbers for next year!

Posted by Just starting to pay attention
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Oct 17, 2013 at 2:53 pm


You make really good points and I completely agree with you.

Posted by MA parent
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Oct 17, 2013 at 3:01 pm

Anyone can search the STAR test data. It's public information, and you could easily spend hours comparing and contrasting.

For starters, let's look at the data for the four basic subjects: English, algebra, social studies, and science.

At La Entrada, the % of 8th graders at proficient or advanced levels: 93, 82, 89, 96.
Hillview: 88, 97, 82, 96
Ravenswood: 28, 18, 21, 28

In the Ravenswood district, 314 of 378 eighth graders are economically disadvantaged. Only 139 are native or fluent speakers of English. (Some Ravenswood schools provide instruction in Spanish.) Half the students have parents who did not graduate from high school. Think about that. How easy is it to advise your kid when you yourself did not complete a high school program? Compare to Menlo Park, where over half the parents have grad school experience.

I believe you can download data and do crosstabs, but the thing is, even if you have a kid testing at advanced level in a subject in 8th grade, chances are not great that s/he is going to have the kind of home support that many of us with high school diplomas can provide our kids. The fact that Ravenswood alums don't do well, that you don't see their names on the M-A honor rolls, should suffice to indicate that the comprehensives aren't properly educating many kids in that population.

Posted by Further Clarification
a resident of Hillview Middle School
on Oct 17, 2013 at 8:23 pm

MA PARENT - Thanks for sharing.

I realize the per school, per district and per subgroup star test data is readily available to the public online. And, even without the star data numbers you shared, I imagine the vast majority of concerned parents realize there's a HUGE gap in the educational readiness of most of the kids coming from the Ravenswood school district vs. MPCSD and LL. I also don't disagree with your statement that (paraphrased) the comprehensive high schools for the most part haven't been successful in changing the educational outcomes of these kids. For that matter, nor have the K-8 districts working with the Tinsley kids, despite huge efforts over the past few years. (Although some, Oak Knoll elementary for example, did see a strong improvement in test scores in the low socio economic subgroup (many of whom are Tinsley students), but still nowhere near the performance of the resident students.

So, I agree that we need much more than simply a halt to busing to have a significant impact on a high number of EPA students. And, it would be fantastic if the community (including businesses such as Facebook)was able to band together to fund a public HS school in the Ravenswood community geared towards changing the arc of these students lives by providing year round education and after school resources staffed by amazing teachers focused on the true needs of the majority of this population. As an aside, it would be even better if we could provide these resources to these kids starting in pre-school. BUT, given where we are today, I simply prefaced my initial post with the lead in about making MA the home school for Ravenswood because of all the choices currently available it seems the best.

BUT, the true focus of my post was on my concern about the way the district is implementing changes NEXT year and the lack of specificity about numbers.

Superintendent Lianides and Principal Zito communicated that the quality of education for all students wouldn't be degraded by any upcoming changes (and that hopefully it would be improved for the Ravenswood kids)and to quell concerns they stated (in slightly different terms) that the ratio of incoming high performing kids to lower performing kids would stay the same due to the population growth in the MPCSD and LL kids and the offset of the lower performing North Fair Oaks kids.

However, due to the way they're planning to execute their new policy for this coming Fall(keep all Fair Oaks kids and provide priority admittance to all interested EPA by diminishing an offsetting number of open enrollment kids), logic dictates that the ratios will not stay the same, a smaller percentage of parents of means may have a harder time providing education foundation funding to support all students, and the school may have its hands overly full shepherding a larger percentage of kids that need extra attention. But, this is all conjecture. That's why I'd like Sequoia to provide the data I requested. There's no way for any of us on this forum to accurately assess the situation for next year because we don't know how many and what the academic readiness level is for the majority of kids who enroll at MA using open enrollment who next year will be replaced by EPA kids.

So, if the Alamanac can obtain this information, it would be of great benefit to the many parents trying to make decisions for their 2014/2015 incoming 9th graders. And, I hope the Sequoia Board and Superintendent Lianides have carefully assessed the situation and will consider making immediate adjustments to the policy or maybe making the Fair Oaks change now to ensure the 2014/15 entering class isn't set up for failure.

Posted by Parent
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Oct 17, 2013 at 9:47 pm

Further Clarification: good posts thank you! Yes, it would be good to know more along the lines of the questions you raise in your posts.

As an aside, I do not think we are lacking for money - and I suspect we will continue to support our schools financially with high property taxes, and extra parcel taxes etc.., plus donations to the PTO and private foundations etc... Sometime I think the money can be better used on academics and the arts (and less on sports although I am into fitness). My belief is that our community can support the extra-academics for the more prepared students as well as extra-academics for the more needy children that did not get the preparation earlier.

For me it is not that important to know the breakdown of how many kids are from Fair Oaks or Ravenswood or Hillview or Las Lomitas (not all of the more needy children are from Ravenswood). The main issue is that M-A is already a big school and it is getting bigger. It would be good to know the total population expected by year and to know more about how the school plans to handle the growth. (It seems like all of the high schools will have this challenge.)

The saving grace is that both Hillview and Oakknoll were/are relatively large schools and our son has done very well both academically and socially - somehow those administrators and teachers were able to create a great environment. I remain optimistic about M-A's ability to handle the overall growth but I would like to know more about their expectations and plans.

Posted by Parent
a resident of Hillview Middle School
on Oct 18, 2013 at 7:08 pm

"Psychologists once believed that only bigoted people used stereotypes. Now the study of unconscious bias is revealing the unsettling truth: We all use stereotypes, all the time, without knowing it. We have met the enemy of equality, and the enemy is us."

extract from - Where Bias Begins: The Truth About Stereotypes.
Annie Murphy Paul, Psychology Today.

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