Guest Opinion: the best elementary school locations for a growing community | November 22, 2013 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

Spectrum - November 22, 2013

Guest Opinion: the best elementary school locations for a growing community

by Diane Reklis

There are 25 percent more elementary students in our district today than when I moved here in 1979, yet we have two fewer elementary schools.

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Diane Reklis is a former president of the school board and served on the Cubberley Community Advisory Committee.


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Posted by Palo alto parent
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Nov 22, 2013 at 7:30 pm

In a nutshell, Ms. Reklis (a Palo Alto icon!) recommends making the new elementary school at Greendell a hybrid school (neighborhood kids combined with a choice program) just as the school district does. What is very curious to me, is that she recommend replicating the Ohlone program at Greendell (very popular with a LONG waiting list) because it is so popular.

Why not move MI (currently at Ohlone) and simply expand the Ohlone program AT Ohlone?

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Posted by OPar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 22, 2013 at 9:11 pm

Because the MI parents [portion removed] want the perks of the Ohlone community to support their [portion removed] program. Split MI off from Ohlone and it becomes all too clear what a mess MI is. Basically, the MIers will fight it. They've already come and moaned about moving to our spineless school board.

So, basically, no other school wants to deal with the MI contingent, but Ohlone-main parents are known for being community-focused volunteer types who aren't uber-competitive.

But, yes, you're completely right. The logical thing would be transfer the MI program and get Ohlone back on track, though reducing it by half a strand--this would still pick up part of the Ohlone waitlist, but reduce the school to a more manageable size--(four strands). Ohlone's system isn't really ideal for a mixed school just because so much of it is about cross-pollination between classes.

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Posted by '76 Palo Verde Alum
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Nov 22, 2013 at 10:30 pm

Greendell should not be a neighborhood school; it's ideal as a commuter school because of its large parking lot and walking/biking there is dangerous. Ohlone should be a neighborhood school because it's near Palo Verde.

Better yet, revert all schools back to neighborhood schools. People can take it or leave it. Choice schools were only created when enrollment was down. Times have changed. We need to dump the Tinsley/VTP and choice schools and get back to the reality of our overcrowded school district.

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Posted by OPar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 23, 2013 at 12:01 am

We can't just dump Tinsley/VTP.

Getting rid of the choice schools won't fix enrollment issues--the PV area doesn't have enough kids to fill both Ohlone and Palo Verde. Enrollment isn't evenly distributed across the district, the choice schools make it possible to to adjust enrollment accordingly and mean that fewer kids actually get bumped from their neighborhood schools.

Choice schools aren't the problem, per se--the school board's refusal to deal with district growth in a timely manner is. We *have* four possible elementary school sites, enrollment that's close to the baby-boom peak and only one third of the elementary schools we had then.

The district would rather play landlord to private schools than take care of educating its own students. The only reason Greendell's even up for consideration is that the JCC left a chunk of it open.

Remember that big bond issue we had a few years back? With a large chunk of money set aside, supposedly, for retrofitting Green Gables? Instead of getting Green Gables, the board decided to make mega-campuses out of Ohlone, Escondido, Duveneck, etc.

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Posted by Too full
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 23, 2013 at 11:13 am

When we first moved here, we were trying to escape the overfilled classrooms of another school district. Now our grandchildren go to school here, and they are in classes just as overfilled as the ones we fled from all those years before! We and our children, have decided to pool resources and put the grandkids in a catholic school because we cannot wait for more schools to be built here.

Be advised that there are more people like us, and that if another school is not built SOON, the PAUSD class population will be lowered artificially by parents removing their children, either by moving elsewhere ( like San Ramon: better schools, better housing), or by enroll long them in private schools.

Kevin Skelly has already damaged the name and image of PAUSD. And caused an artificial lowering of SPU scores by mainstreaming IEP kids.....hasn't the school board had enough?

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Posted by iSez
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Nov 23, 2013 at 10:48 pm

iSez is a registered user.

Re posting by Too full: People move to Palo Alto for more than just the schools, and there will be no run on PAUSD to private schools. Not everyone wants their children in Catholic schools. Plus, many of the people who live in Palo Alto work nearby and would not like to commute from the East Bay. Palo Alto has so much to offer that people are willing to pay over a million dollars to live in houses that are 1600sf. Obviously, you don't appreciate Palo Alto as much as you should. There's more to Palo Alto than just a house and a school.

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Posted by Crescent Park Dad
a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 24, 2013 at 7:17 am

Not buying the overfilled argument if you're talking about classroom size. At least not for K-8.

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Posted by Traffic Impact
a resident of Mayfield
on Nov 24, 2013 at 7:56 pm

Making all the schools neighborhood schools again WILL cut down on traffic. Most kids are biking but if you ever go to Hoover or Ohlone in the morning, there is tons of car traffic. Makes sens to me to move a choice program to a commute oriented location, and keep the schools in the midst of single family homes as neighborhood schools

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Posted by Too Full of What?
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Nov 25, 2013 at 11:21 am

Too Full,

First of all what evidence do you have that the San Ramon schools are better? How do you know that district does not face similar problems? I haven't seen any reports or stats that San Ramon schools are considered better, but I have heard numerous reports that the schools there are even more like pressure cookers than the ones in PAUSD.

Second, how dare you accuse IEP kids of bringing down STAR scores (you say SPU which I have never heard of and assume you mean STAR scores?)! Although there is a lot I disagree with Skelly about and certainly don't support his mainstreaming idea for all IEP kids, a large number of IEP kids have dyslexia (think Albert Einstein) , aspegers (think Bill Gates), or other disabilities that do not affect intelligence and with accommodations these kids can perform academically just as well or even better than non IEP kids. Would you refuse to allow people who wear glasses to wear their glasses? Same with some IEP kids. If you allow accommodations such as Bookshare or extra time on tests, they can do well. My own dyslexic, IEP kid scored Advanced on the STAR so don't worry about my child lowering your precious test scores! How about educating yourself about IEP students and realize many of them are capable and deserve a chance (and in PAUSD unfortunately many of them are not getting the accommodations or help they need)!

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Posted by Rose colored glasses off
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Nov 26, 2013 at 12:51 am

It is currently my experience that classes are overcrowded and both mainstream and IEP students are not getting the education and support they deserve. Teachers must be overburdened since they have no idea who is an IEP student and what their needs are. I've had an experience of no follow-up and lots of promises but the classroom experience has not changed. I've had to pull my child out of classes due to the teachers negative discipline styles of bullying the kids and embarrassing them in order to get them to do what he wants. Teachers too arrogant to teach kids who aren't arriving tutored. I guess the kids who need to learn are the responsibility of someone else. Somewhere the simple act of asking the student what he is struggling with and teaching is lost, even for 11 year olds.

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Posted by Lee
a resident of Green Acres
on Nov 26, 2013 at 2:32 pm

Hoover and Ohlone can move to the Greendell location. However why MI is not at Hoover school? [Portion removed.]

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Posted by Huh??
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 26, 2013 at 5:36 pm

It would help many of us if we could have a dictionary with these articles, or if you would write out full names--MI? SPU? STAR? IEP? Etc. I vote, and I have no idea what you're talking about.

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Posted by John
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Nov 26, 2013 at 9:00 pm

MI = Mandarin Immersion

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Posted by paretn
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Nov 26, 2013 at 9:10 pm

@too full: by all means move your children to a private school. Since PAUSD is a basic aid district, it only means more money for them. They are not paid per child. They get a certain lump sum based on property taxes. It doesn't matter how many children attend the schools. Your threat to move your children out, unfortunately, is an empty one.