Struggling, Ravenswood plans to consolidate schools | July 12, 2019 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

News - July 12, 2019

Struggling, Ravenswood plans to consolidate schools

District to hold community meetings, seek feedback on potential closures this fall

by Elena Kadvany

Battling declining enrollment and funding, the Ravenswood City School District in East Palo Alto is starting to discuss consolidating schools — a process that is sure to be thorny but that the interim superintendent of the K-8 district says is necessary for its survival.

This story contains 973 words.

Stories older than 90 days are available only to subscribing members. Please help sustain quality local journalism by becoming a subscribing member today.

If you are already a subscriber, please log in so you can continue to enjoy unlimited access to stories and archives. Subscriptions start at $5 per month and may be cancelled at any time.

Log in     Subscribe

Staff Writer Elena Kadvany can be emailed at


10 people like this
Posted by Concerned Resident
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Jul 8, 2019 at 9:14 pm

It seems to me like we are getting into the same situation as we were with Hernandez, except that she wanted to close only Belle Heaven, but it sounds like Sudaria has more then one school in mind. Very interesting to hear that former donors are pulling out after Sudaria took over. Ms. Pulido can you give more names of donors who stopped donating; it will be great to compare the amount of $ in new donations vs amount of $ of donations that have stopped coming in after Sudaria took over. I am wonder when will the search for the new permanent super will begin. Anybody know that or maybe the board has already decided that Gina will be the permanent one, and that is why no one talks about it. The fact that Sudaria learned many tricks and habits from Hernandez makes her an unqualified person todo the job as a superintendent. She has worked under corrupted administrators and has learned a lot from them. The search for a new one should start now, before the school consolidation. Sudaria does not ahve the skills do take care an issue of this magnitued, if not handled right it will be a disaster, and we parents are going to be very unhappy and might even decide to sent our kids to KIPP or other charters.

3 people like this
Posted by More Please
a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 9, 2019 at 12:22 am

Why is enrollment dropping? How much is Facebook helping or hurting? Are families sending thier children to a charter schools, private schools?

1 person likes this
Posted by Jose
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Jul 9, 2019 at 8:31 am

Replying to More Please

Enrollment is dropping for many reasons including cost of living (yes, big tech companies are mainly at fault for this), better jobs, we family situations and many more. A LARGE number of families do tinsley their children out to Redwood City, Pali and Menlo Park, on top of that hundreds more put their children in charter schools like Kipp that treat students like animals, and traumatize students by dragging them across campuses and putting them in a classroom that is always chaotic, my daughter has become depressed.

3 people like this
Posted by We Love Ms, Sudaria
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Jul 9, 2019 at 8:54 am

Thank you Ms. Sudaria! You are helping to create a long term plan which sadly has to include CONSOLIDATING schools, Belle Haven along with any of the other schools don’t want to be closed down but sadly after what Hernandez did to us it’s almost impossible to survive with all of these schools, we don’t have the staff, the kids nor the money to operate them all. I am sure that Sudaria has a lot more NON corrupt donors. Come on people! How has Trustee Pulido ever positively effected our community, if you want to see all the lies, coverups and corruption over her campaign trail check out the One Ravenswood page. The couple who left, did not leave due to a leadership change and even if they left due to a leadership change; if you know anything about Hernandez’s bad side you would know it would be Good thing they were gone because they must have been corrupt too. All do respect commenters, do some research, use your knowledge and come up with logical ideas after you’ve done some research on people. Hernandez just came up in the district. Sudaria was a school staff member, teacher, vice principal, principal, and a Director of Human Resources and Student Services, hey she worked he self up the chain. Community Input, who doesn’t love that, A corrupt person! She’s not corrupt and is NOTHING What so ever, Like HERNANDEZ! She loves our kids be will do anything to keep them safe, healthy, smart and happy. If combining schools is what has to happen, that’s what has to happen. FYI for your information combining and closing are two TOTALLY different things, combining means for example you combining Willow and Belle Haven, that means all willow staff and student would be transferred over to 1 school, kids get to keep their teachers and their friends and support staff. Closing means your going to be completely splitting willow up (in this example) sending kids, staff and teachers all over the district, which is what Hernandez wanted to do. Knowledge is Power!

6 people like this
Posted by Sun Tzu
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Jul 9, 2019 at 11:40 am

I think the community needs to pay more attention to the current situation at RCSD. Although there are people that trust Ms. Sudaria, she is actually a wolf in sheep’s clothing. The district just got rid of one tyrant, we do don’t need another one. The school board needs to set up a committee to search for a permanent superintendent. If Ms. Sudaria truly wants to become the permanent superintendent, she needs to apply like any other candidate would have too!

8 people like this
Posted by Parent
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Jul 9, 2019 at 12:45 pm

Ravenswood schools are losing enrollment mostly because of KIPP and The Primary School, both of which have enrolled hundreds of students over the last 3 years. That's on top of over 1000 students in the Tinsley program, and some unknown number attending private schools.

What does it mean when enrollment drops by 50% and every alternative has a waiting list? This is not a healthy situation and something needs to change.

7 people like this
Posted by Wolf or Sheep
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Jul 10, 2019 at 6:49 am

Sun Tzu, I totally agree with you on your statement:
"she is actually a wolf in sheep’s clothing. The district just got rid of one tyrant, we do don’t need another one."

People say that a school district is like a family, and to me, Ms. Sudaria was raised in a dysfunctional one (Ravenswood School District). All she has seen is corruption and has learned it from the best'. it will take no time for her to show her true colors. In fact, she is already showing them. Sudaria will be the worst one to do this job and if she stays as a permanent superintendent, she will finish Gloria's job "to take the district down." I hope the board is smart enough, knows better, and finds someone who really has experience as a superintendent. In fact, the consolidation shall not be done until a real superintendent takes over otherwise the district will fail and will get into more deeper sh...

So sorry to know that now Ravenswood faces school closing . I thought one school has been closed Cesar Chavez according to one article that Palo Alto on Line recently wrote regarding Cesar Chavez.

3 people like this
Posted by rsmithjr
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 10, 2019 at 10:05 am

rsmithjr is a registered user.

Ravenswood is losing enrollment because parents are doing everything they can to find alternatives for their children. The Tinsley program and the charter schools are all over-subscribed. Parents look for scholarships at Eastside Prep and the other private schools in the area.

When the district opposes the charters like Kipp and Aspire, they are essentially thwarting the efforts of the parents to find something better for their kids.

Ravenswood has been promising improvements for over 50 years but the parents seem to have lost faith in those promises.

5 people like this
Posted by Ravenswood Supporter
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Jul 10, 2019 at 3:33 pm

There is a major difference that defines former RCSD Supt. Gloria Hernandez-Goff from interim Supt. Gina Sudaria. Hernandez-Goff brought her son to the District as an employee to make an inflated salary. Sudaria brings her son to the District as a student because she believes her child will receive a good education.

Sudaria has long been respected by District insiders and outsiders. She has the experience and knowledge to make academic gains for the students. Is it too late? Not really. School closure does not identify defeat. There are districts in California with only a single school. RCSD still exceeds that.

The crime about Tinsley is that when the plan was approved by the State no requirement was made to examine the academic results of placing these children in neighboring districts. And the County Office oversaw the program for over two decades but made no effort to document the participating students' academic achievement. It is a well known secret that the overall scores of the transferred students are equivalent to the children who remained in Ravenswood. While there are always individual success stories, attendance in an educational setting catering to affluence did not make the difference academically for the students as a whole.

Sudaria deserves the support of the community. She will endure slights due to the ineffectual leadership of her predecessor and the Board who employed her. There are a core of us who believe she will endure and serve the children here well.

Like this comment
Posted by rsmithjr
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 10, 2019 at 4:50 pm

rsmithjr is a registered user.

@Ravenswood Supporter

There was a Stanford PhD dissertation around 2012 that claimed positive results for the Tinsley students.

Personally, I am skeptical. I tend to believe that connection to the home and community is very important for students. I can believe that some Tinsley students are helped, but others not. Moving students around seems like a 1960s solution that has had limited results except in heightening awareness.

I believe that parents are a very key part of the support system for students. This is one reason I support charters which can give parents control over what is happening to their students.

The school that is very interesting to me is Eastside Prep in EPA. While they are privately funded and not a charter, they are producing excellent results. Ravenswood seems to ignore the examples they are setting.

Aspire also has very good results and should be supported. Kipp hasn't been around long enough to know, but I like them.

Ravenswood needs to get creative about what they are doing, either by changing their own practices, or letting others (such as charters) take over. My opinion.

Like this comment
Posted by Sun Tzu
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Jul 10, 2019 at 10:49 pm


The last thing our community needs is for this city to become the next New Orleans where over 90% of the schools are charter schools. I do agree that our schools need a fresh approach but charter schools are not the answer!

1 person likes this
Posted by rsmithjr
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 11, 2019 at 9:23 am

rsmithjr is a registered user.

@Sun Tzu,

I don't know anything about the situation in New Orleans, can you enlighten me?

In Ravenswood, it appears that the individual parents are trying to get their students into charters, and there are not enough places. Why shouldn't parents have that individual choice?

3 people like this
Posted by Oldster
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jul 12, 2019 at 8:55 pm

Watched as a kid many students being bused around for Tinsley with most of those bused very unhappy they could not walk or bike to the schools. As an adult, have watched Chris B. grow a simple basketball tutoring program to Eastside Prep. Most recently, I've taught enviromental studies at several EPA grammar schools.

For everyone who says charter and private schools skim off the "bright" students fatally handicapping public schools I say, "Bunk!" I've seen the same proportions of bright students at every EPA school. Or to those who say give the public schools more cash for yet more consultants instead of more income to the best teachers producing results: get real.

Meanwhile, in the Weekly article I was struck by the new EPA superintendent saying she needed to "rightsize" her schools, to get the "right" teachers -- "right" this and " right" that but not one peep about the real reasons EPA families are increasingly opting out of their public schools. As long as the newest superintendent sticks to PR spin and Orweillian "right" speech the day will come soon there will be no public schools left in EPA.

5 people like this
Posted by Ravenswood Parent
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Jul 13, 2019 at 12:10 pm

Dear Board Members,
With all your respect, Gina is not the right person for the superintendent job.
Please, do not start consolidation until you hire a new "real and experienced" superintendent. You cannot risk our student's education by giving such a big assignment to a rookie interim superintendent. Ms. Sudaria does not have the experience to deal with such a big issue; if you do let her deal with this, she will take us into chaos again. What was the whole purpose of getting rid of a lousy super when you get us stuck with an inexperienced one? Think about the reason you run for school board? To do favors or to make sure our students' education improves. If you are planning to keep Ms. Sudaria for a whole school year, please wait on the consolidation issue. It is only fair for our dysfunctional district to get the right person for such a crucial job.
Hope you listened to us the people who voted for you. Please do not ignore us as our former board members did when we asked them not to renewed Gloria's contract.

Like this comment
Posted by Another Ravenswood Parent
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Jul 13, 2019 at 1:24 pm

Dear Board -

Gina is the PERFECT person for the job! She has worked in our community for over 20 years. She knows our children, she has the backing of our amazing teachers and cares for East Palo Alto and isn't someone who is using EPA as a rung on her career ladder.

Whatever decisions you make please be sure you are hearing from the majority and using facts.

Many of these comments on this post aren't true and are opinion based in rumor and not truth. I know this to be fact as many of the supporting documents you have received contradict these peoples opinions - they are clearly not present at the meetings or reading the docs online. For example the Stanford Dissertation (which I read) identifies that there is NOT an academic benefit for going to school through the Tinsley program.

Thank you!

2 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Aug 16, 2019 at 4:05 pm

Hi you all just wanted to comment on the people that are in favor of ms. Gina Sudaria the reason and the only reason Ms. Sudaria got the job as Human resources is because she had to do what was asked of Gloria Hernandez to fire anyone who opposed her believes and got in her way. as a favor for getting rid of very good people Sudaria was ascended to student services as a reward,look at all the damage she caused and she has no regrets about it. this was the easy fix by moving her to student services. and now she is pretending to try to be the hero well let me tell you this she was part of the and open your eyes people we need fresh blood someone from the outside not someone that was thought corruption by her teacher Gloria SHE IS NO GOOD FOR THE DISTRICT PERIOD!

1 person likes this
Posted by resident
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Aug 29, 2019 at 9:38 pm

I just wanted to comment on the transportation side why is it that the district has less students than last year and the district now has more drivers and vans i wonder if the board members are aware that maybe is a good idea to look into hiring a consultant to look into the transportation part
maybe the district is spending more than what they should.
according to the California law the district is only required to transport students only if they live more 2 miles from the school they attend, and school are too far apart from each other. as far as Gina Sudaria she should be concentrating on education and not gathering her people by giving them positions and higher wages to get their vote i guess corruption will not end she is following Glorias footsteps WHEN WILL IT END?

Don't miss out on the discussion!
Sign up to be notified of new comments on this topic.


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

Get fact-based reporting on the COVID-19 crisis sent to your inbox daily.


Who is your local hero?

Whether they're grocery shopping for a neighbor or volunteering for a nonprofit, you can spread the joy and support our journalism efforts by giving them a shout-out.

Learn More