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Southgate and Walter Hays

Original post made by AAAG Member, Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Dec 6, 2006

To all the residents of the Southgate community and in particular to those who were at the Board Study Session last night, I urge you to talk to the Walter Hays AAAG rep. about your concerns. If you do not know who this is either because of lack of notification or the fact that you do not have kids in school yet and feel out of the loop, then ask the Hays school office or PTA to give you the reps. name.

To all in the Walter Hays community, please ask your rep, for updates on the process and give any concerns you have to your rep.

To all concerned regardless of where you live, each school in PAUSD has one rep and one alternate and they should be reporting back to you in someway. If you feel that your voice has not been heard, do get in touch with your rep. Many of us reps. have been doing surveys and writing reports for the school newsletters. If these are not getting to you, ask your school office for more information.

This process is being done in a very civil manner and we are discussing all proposals and listening to all concerns. We have had no problems with any type of partisan issues and all get along extremely well. The tone of the meetings is businesslike and civil, often with a little humor thrown in. We are only discussing proposals which have been given to us for our comments and coming up with what we hope are constructive ideas. From last night's meeting and the data that was presented, you can see that there is a lot of very difficult aspects to take into consideration. There will be no magic formula and the result of all this is not in our hands.

So, once again, I urge anyone with concerns to talk to your reps.fyn

Comments (9)

Posted by benson
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Dec 6, 2006 at 7:20 pm

it is time for Escondido elementary school take over that area west of Alma and the Tracks and so families that lives in Old Palo Alto don't have to drive all the way to other schools mainly in south Palo Alto because the school for old Palo Alto that is Walter Hays at the present moment cannot absorb every kid in the neighborhood and especially making so that Melville Avenue, Kellogg Avenue and Churchill avenue in Old Palo Alto move from Addison to Walter Hays so the whole Palo Alto neighborhood will be within their neighborhood school and therefore neighbors will have all the kids in the same elementary school.

Posted by Gunn parent
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Dec 6, 2006 at 7:58 pm

I sympathize with the Southgate residents who have concerns about children having to cross El Camino. But the reality is that it is the only neighborhood located between El Camino and Alma that does not have to cross El Camino. Next to Southgate is the Evergreen neighborhood where children cross El Camino to get to their neighborhood school "Escondido". Children living in Ventura cross El Camino to go to "Barron Park" and children in Charleston Meadows cross it to reach "Briones". Therefore, crossing El Camino should not be used as a factor when deciding which school Southgate children should attend.

Posted by Moira
a resident of JLS Middle School
on Dec 6, 2006 at 8:33 pm

When you rent or buy into a school district, you are entitled to send your child to a school in that district, not to the school you feel you are entitled to go to. I bought my home many years ago when it was in one highschool district, but it may change. Bound-aries change because enrollment changes, programs change, etc. Get over it Walter Hays people. As long as the district makes enrollment decisions fairly (ie considering the best way to draw the boundaries for ALL the kids) so be it. Do you honestly think that where your kids go to elementary school determines their lifes' fate? They may still get into Princeton if they go to another PA school :)

Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 6, 2006 at 9:48 pm

They've got all these massive problems, and they show us approximately one boundary change - to move about 30 kids from one school to another? I thought it was just weird.

By the way - those maps are intentionally misleading - there were no street names provided on the boundary map versions - so figuring out the true impact by neighborhood was next to impossible. They need to republish those maps overlayed on a city map with street names PRONTO!

And another weird thing: I was wondering... if you live in the neighborhoods surrounding Garland, (perhaps you are currently impacted by an overflowing Hays, Duveneck or Addison?) How does it feel to know they may very well choose to relieve the North overflow by opening a school right around the corner from you, and then before the paint is dry, they're are going to promptly shut 240 seats out of that school for a choice program.

Do the neighbors of Garland think MI going in to Garland sounds like a "no neighborhood displacement" plan???? I think its some poisoned Group Think seeded by a 'wolf' in sheeps clothing.

Posted by tiger class of 76
a resident of Barron Park
on Dec 6, 2006 at 11:53 pm

Moira - I went to Walter Hays. I went to Princeton. Ergo, if you don't get into Walter Hays, forget Princeton.

Posted by Parent
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Dec 8, 2006 at 4:34 pm

I have a child at Escondido,(which is a great school.) and we have to cross El Camino. We are fortunate to have a crossing guard and a very safe commute. Re- drawing boundaries is clearly going to be a difficult, and people by nature will resist any change. I just hope that the board will think about the long term implications, and do what is in the best interest of all Palo Alto schools, not just of the parents that make the most noise.

Posted by Steve
a resident of Barron Park
on Dec 9, 2006 at 10:48 am

I got a good chuckle this morning in reading yesterday's Weekly article about some members of the Southgate neighborhood up in the arms about the potential of redrawing boundaries so their kids will attend Escondido instead of Hays. To Ann Smitherman, who is "sick to my stomach thinking about this" and Helen Sandoval "there is no way my son is ever going to walk that (across El Camino)" and Cynthia "it may affect my property value" Bright, I can only say it is time to be honest and admit the real reasons you don't want your kids going to Escondido.

Here are a few things to think about:

1. From a safety perspective, it has to be safer to cross El Camino than the train tracks.

2. Have you met your neighbors on the other side of Peers Park in Evergreen? They all walk, bike, and scooter to Escondido. I am on the City School Traffic Safety Committee (although voicing my opinion here and not necessarily that of other members) and we worked hard last year to get a crossing guard at El Camino and Stanford, which is working out quite well.

3. I am sure you realize we are a unified school district and offer the same programs and quality of instruction across the district.

4. Every real estate flyer I've ever seen lists the neighborhood schools with a disclaimer saying that children are only guaranteed to attend schools in the district, not any specific school.

If a change is made, I presume they would grandfather families already attending the school, so I understand the disruption in having to change schools, but not in starting a new school. We had the same situation here in Barron Park when the school was opened and many families chose to stay at Briones.

Posted by teresag
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Dec 9, 2006 at 11:01 am

Steve of Barron Park - thanks for chiming in. I agree with your comments. While Walter Hays has a certain cache, Escondido has its own charms. If the change is made, I'm quite sure the South Gate parents will join with the existing families at Escondido to ensure our kids continue to have safe routes to school. Change is hard and once the dust settles we have to remember that we all want PAUSD to be great (and safe) for all kids.

Posted by Lucinda
a resident of University South
on Dec 9, 2006 at 1:07 pm

Thank you, Steve, from Barron Park. Your comments re the article in Friday's Weekly said it better than I could have, and more nicely than I was contemplating! The school district is a community, and communities have to consider the needs of all members. There is overcrowding at some schools and empty seats at others. This is unfair to to kids and staff, and wasteful of precious educational dollars. I find it difficult to believe that parents concerned with safety would rather send their kids, not just across the RR tracks, but also, Alma, Middlefield and Embarcadero to get to Walter Hayes. To my knowledge, no child has been harmed crossing El Camino to get to school--but kids have been killed crossing the RR tracks, and on city streets presumed to be "safe". I certainly understand wanting to advocate for the best for your child. But in this case, there is some clear elitism and entitlement affecting people's perspectives. Last year at Addison, incoming kinder parents were upset that their children might be overflowed to a different school. Understandably, most just wanted their child to go the neighborhood school with the benefits of community that go along with that. However, there were a few ugly rumblings of "I didn't pay extra for a house in this part of town to have to send my kid to (fill in a south Palo Alto school)." Please remember that we, not the schools, are our childrens' most important teachers. What we model for them is the most effective lesson. Will that be cooperation and concern for others, or a "me-first" competetiveness and materialism?

For the record, I am a part time school district employee, but am speaking as a long-time Palo Altan and parent.

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