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School Board to Hear Reports on School Closures

The full San Bruno Park School Board will begin to discuss possible school closures for the first time at its meeting Wednesday.

Residents concerned about school closures will finally get a chance to address the San Bruno Park School Board about the issue at its , where discussions about reducing the number of elementary schools in the city will be high on the agenda.

For the last several months, the issue of whether the school district could possibly close a school has been hotly debated. But the discussions have been contained to a about which school should be closed if the school board decided to take a vote of its own.

The school district has maintained that closing a school would be necessary next year because of declining enrollment, inadequate state funding and a desire to reduce the number of combination classes at each school.

Now the issue lies in the hands of the five schools trustees, two of whom have publicly stated their opposition to school closures.

The school board will only be receiving the final report from the school closures committee and won't be making any decisions yet. But the presentation alone is expected to set off a long debate among the school board members and residents.

The consultants from Total School Solutions, the firm tasked with compiling a boundary study, will also be presenting its final report to the board. The boundary study has been been controversial ever since a that suggested different options for school closures.

Interestingly, the Total School Solutions study makes some recommendations that contradict the work of the district committee that developed its own recommendation about school closures.

Among the study's recommendations:

  • The number of elementary schools in the district would have to be reduced from seven to five to have fewer combination classes at each school.
  • Closing would balance enrollment the most and not substantially impact the walking distance of students at that school.

Part of the district committee's recommendation was to close because it would be left with the smallest school population next year.

The school board meeting will be at 7 p.m. at Rollingwood Elementary School.

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John Marinos April 18, 2012 at 11:21 PM
Just to add Mr. Henderson made a motion to not have this committee from the start and Ms. Blanco has come out against closing any school......I am asking for one more board member to come forward tonight against closing our schools.
M Z April 19, 2012 at 03:08 AM
Can someone comment on how the meeting is going?
Todd Mirkin April 19, 2012 at 01:32 PM
100% agree Edwin.
Joe April 19, 2012 at 06:45 PM
The report on school closure was submitted and read, parents and employees from PARCA REACH, Crestmoor Elementary, Rollingwood elementary voiced there concerns about school closure. At the end of the meeting another board meeting was set for Wednesday April 25, 2012 at Crestmoor to finally decide whether Crestmoor will close or stay open. A vote of the board will be taken.
Heidi Beck April 19, 2012 at 07:35 PM
They are also going to discuss at the next meeting the timeline if they should pursue a parcel tax. Yeah, well, good luck with that -- as much as Sacramento has screwed up priorities when it comes to school funding and the district needs the money for the good of the children in our community, the board has lost so much credibility and goodwill ... I don't see how in the world they will get a parcel tax to pass. I'll bet even plenty of people who normally would support it would vote no just to send a message to the board.
Edwin S April 19, 2012 at 07:59 PM
Martin, please do a story on how many (percentage) of students are transferred out of the district, and why – the why is very important. The numbers have been presented at board meeting, and they are staggering. I know a number of families that have transferred to Millbrae just to avoid this district. I don’t agree, but it cant be ignored. The larger percentages of these are either top 10% students, or families that place a high value on education. The board does not seem to care or notice and the number of requests is going to skyrocket. Not because the district is bad, but folks are so disillusioned with the goals and approaches of the districts leadership.
John Marinos April 19, 2012 at 08:07 PM
Your points are very good but only the children will suffer if that parcel tax is not passed. I encourage everyone to support the parcel tax. Meaure O did not pass and the board kept on going forward with their agenda. What works is the community coming out in full force and demanding answers which happened Wednesday night. SBPSD needs to take their financail future into their own hands and a parcel tax is a great start. We need to stop waiting for Sacramento because no help is on the way!
Edwin S April 19, 2012 at 08:46 PM
nope, did not say "bad district", said "not because it is bad" or, in other words, parents like the schools and staff - so something else is driving them away, thus, the request.
Martin Ricard (Editor) April 19, 2012 at 08:46 PM
I'll follow up on your suggestion, Edwin. I know I mentioned it in this story: http://patch.com/A-rQ8m. I'll try to dig deeper. I would appreciate it if anyone could help me find examples of people who transferred their kids out of San Bruno schools "just to avoid this district" or for any other reasons. Thank you all for your contributions to this discussion.
Todd Mirkin April 19, 2012 at 08:48 PM
Love 1:38 pm on Thursday, April 19, 2012 I hope people understand that the teachers in San Bruno are dedicated, hard-working and enthusiastic. Many of them don't even live in San Bruno and could have had higher paying positions in other districts (SB is notorious for paying their teachers one of the lowest salaries in the area), but they stay here because they care about San Bruno and its kids. When you say "bad district," I hope you mean "poorly led." :) I believe most people do realize that teachers in our school district are very dedicated to it and this is a case of a mismanaged budget. The fog and mirrors approach to balancing budgets is destroying a lot of states now and the people who have been arguing against one time payment options, using up the general funds and passing the buck on to the same kids futures we are trying to secure by using bonds, etc. suddenly don't look like anti-government/Public School radicals or throwbacks that don't want education.
Joe Capote April 19, 2012 at 09:42 PM
Unfortunately, the timing could not be worse. First a failed bond measure initiative, then boundary/school closure discussions and now a parcel tax intiative. Why does it feel like the district is just throwing darts at a darboard? That being said, I have heard some parents that would support a parcel tax, given it is written correctly and supports core programs such as classroom size reduction. However, the anti-tax pundits will have plenty of ammo with which to oppose the district's efforts. In addition, state level initiatives, such as the Munger initiative, are being supported by the PTA and petitioning to get on the November ballot. Oh yeah, and how about the 10% per year garbage/gas increase from Recology? Its really difficult to see any tax inititative passing right now.
Joe Capote April 19, 2012 at 10:01 PM
It should be noted that 50% of the voters said yes to Measure O in November. ~3,719 votes were cast. Does that still constitute a uniformed opposition to taxes?
Chris Kiely April 19, 2012 at 10:16 PM
Several weeks ago, I sent the Supe an e-mail asking what yearly amount of $$$ the District would need to COMMIT to class-size reduction. No answer. Tough to solve a problem if they won't tell you the scope of the problem.
Heidi Beck April 20, 2012 at 03:41 AM
Millbrae's school district is also in dire financial straits, and enrollment there is dropping too -- I remember the principal at Mills saying last year how much smaller the graduating class was at Taylor and how that meant fewer freshmen.
Edwin S April 21, 2012 at 06:25 AM
This just reported on the san burno park website - from Mr Hutt... Recommendation: The Superintendent recommends that the Governing Board consider the following “triggers” of determination in whether to keep all of the elementary school campuses (see article on SBPSD website) open: If,not the District would move forward with the recommendation submitted in the Total School Solutions report for two identified schools (Crestmoor and El Crystal) to close in the succeeding school year. So add El Crystal to the list. Oh, and one criteria is number of students attending school in the district.
Heidi Beck April 21, 2012 at 06:46 AM
Wow, I just read the whole thing. Looks like the DDAC was, just like most of us thought, a joke that the superintendent never was going to take seriously. He didn't even mention the DDAC and their criteria. This is disgusting.
Henry Lowood April 21, 2012 at 07:11 AM
There is a serious problem here with the governance of the District. It is almost impossible to understand what the intentions were with regard to the Committee's recommendations. The Supt. seems to be ignoring the Committee entirely and substituting his own narrative and conclusions. As a taxpayer and voter in San Bruno, I am expecting the Board to question him seriously about the process and why he abandoned it, as well as the arguments in his recommendation. I hope that they at least consider moving in another direction with the district leadership; this seems like a good time to at least consider that option.
Joe Capote April 21, 2012 at 04:00 PM
I agree Heidi. It should be titled "Top Reasons Why Dr. Hutt Will Justify School Closure Despite an Entire Community's Objections". It is every bit as disgusting as I could have possibly imagined. A one week to make a decision? Where are the public hearings? Where is the community input? Henry, there is a serious problem with governance. It is clear to me that the intent was to close two schools and to follow whatever third party report that came up with the answer the district wanted. This entire outcome makes me sick to my stomach.
Heidi Beck April 21, 2012 at 04:23 PM
I don't mean my comment above to belittle the DDAC, which had a tough job to do in a very short time. What I mean is that it is now crystal clear the superintendant never had any intention of listening to the committee -- that it was merely created so that he could say the community had a voice and input, which of course he has completely disregarded.
Patrick Flynn April 22, 2012 at 01:57 AM
On the parcel tax issue. I hope people understand that the Foundation has been helping the district all we can. We need more money. Our next packet ask will be $150 per family. We can't raise more until we get better response. Please get the word out. We control where our money goes. With more money we could provide more.
John Marinos April 22, 2012 at 02:09 AM
Keep up the great work Patrick and all the members of the Foundation.
Martin Ricard (Editor) April 22, 2012 at 05:34 PM
Could someone provide a link to this recommendation from Dr. Hutt? I'm working on a Q&A I did with Dr. Hutt about school closures, and it would be good to include this new information in the story.
Chris Kiely April 22, 2012 at 06:40 PM
I would have expected the Board to question him seriously at least a year ago, if not 3 or 4 years ago. In PUBLIC. Instead, they keep extending his contract. Probably cost $200,000 to dump him. They could scarcely claim they have cause to fire him when they keep supporting everything he does. Not sure what good it would do to dump him though. San Bruno residents seem thrilled with Mr. Henderson's leadership of the Board. You think people would wonder how he let it get to this point, to get chronically worse and worse. Most people seem to think I'm wrong on that though.
Chris Kiely April 22, 2012 at 06:59 PM
There is one point of view that has been relatively silent so far: the teachers. I'd expect that teachers would defend their individual schools. But how do they feel about the more general concerns that Dr. Hutt tosses out there in his recommendation? Are split classes and "professional isolation" and things like that real issues for them? How important? Would they rather put up with those problems or close a school? Which works better for them as teachers? It isn't the walls and floors that teach. These are schools, not miraculous shrines. There is no Lourdes in San Bruno. Kids don't learn multiplication tables just by walking in the door. If we insist that the site is the important thing, how do we address the issues that Hutt raises? Do we assume that those aren't really important to teachers? Or do we ask the teachers what they think, even if maybe we don't like the answers?
Heidi Beck April 22, 2012 at 07:14 PM
Martin, here is the link: http://sbpsd.k12.ca.us/assets/docs/Special-Board-Agenda%20-04.25.12.pdf The garbled syntax is atrocious, and you've got to wonder why in the world the money was wasting in hiring Total School Solutions and why go through the whole exercise of the DDAC and the criteria for closure, when what the superintendent basically says in his recommendation is that Crestmoor and El Crystal should be closed based on the size of their enrollment. If that's the criterion, then TSS and DDAC was all for show and a waste of time and money. We need a superintendent who can do better than that. Wake up, school board members!
Henry Lowood April 22, 2012 at 11:14 PM
Chris, the difference is important -- that the Board is elected while the Superintendent serves "at the pleasure" of the Board. We can vote later, of course, but as a practical matter, the issue right now is the performance of the Superintendent. Also, I don't see that the Board had any hand in the Supt's recommendations; it wouldn't surprise me if they were as surprised as anyone. (Not that I have any evidence one way or the other on that.)
Joe Capote April 23, 2012 at 01:01 AM
Wasting taxpayer money doesn't stop with the TTS report. What about recent taxpayer investments to the school sites, such as solar panels, network infrastructure and interactive chalkboards? On the top of page 3 of the agenda, the superintendant makes a point that "researching and identifying the level of financial help that closing a school would have for the district after considering teaching staff, custodial staff, office staff, food service and administrative staff...". The mention of recent investments of infrastructure that will never be recouped is conspicuously absent. A more blatant waste of taxpayer money this could not be.
Edwin S April 23, 2012 at 03:21 AM
You are incorrect. The Schools do have their own individual cultures, their ethos'. You can not simply create that by planning for that to happen, paying for it to happen, even wishing it to happen. Once a positive and productive environment exists it can be dismantle in no time, but just ask those involved with failing school districts across the country how easily it is to develop a culture that values education.
Edwin S April 23, 2012 at 04:15 AM
This is a mess, and so many saw it comming, but nothing to be done about it. Mr Hutt is a political animal, he knows exactly how to thrive and retire successfully. 3 of the board-members fully support his leadership and will go with is recommendation. If anyone has either heard the man speak or spoken to him they know. The only way to move forward is to fire the man for “Cause”. Joe, I did vote for you in the last election. The next election needs to see some real quality leaders emerge from the San Bruno community. Mr Hutt is not ethical in his actions. To quote the Patch - In FPPC Stipulation, Decision and Order Number: 2011-252, the California Fair Political Practices Commission (CFPPC) found the San Bruno Park School District's (SBPSD) Superintendent David Hutt guilty on 4 counts of violating California Government Code Section 87300 for "FAILURE TO DISCLOSE REPORTABLE INTERESTS ON A STATEMENT OF ECONOMIC INTERESTS (Form 700)". Also there is the issue of Mr Hutt having an affair with a district employee. For some reason this has been covered up.
Chris Kiely April 23, 2012 at 06:34 PM
Edwin- I disagree with your point. My kids went to Crestmoor for three years. It is a great school. They had great teachers. But all of the teachers they had when they were there are gone. Crestmoor is on its third principal. yet it is still a great school. So in fact, they are recreating that ethos year after year. I think you are selling the kids, families and teachers short when you insist that they wouldn't be driven to excel (and suceed at it!) if they switched schools. On the other hand, I agree with you 100% that making that change will be difficult, and that it is much easier to screw it up than to do it right. I don't trust this Administration or Board to do this right.

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