School Board Votes Against Closing Schools

School closures at Crestmoor and El Crystal schools were avoided after the San Bruno Park School Board voted 4-1 against a recommendation made by the superintendent.

The San Bruno Park School Board voted 4-1 Wednesday to oppose closing any schools following hours of passionate pleas from residents.

Schools trustee Kevin Martinez was the only dissenting vote.

The special board meeting was called after last week's meeting to take action on the school closures issue, which has been lingering since the beginning of the school year. Late last week, Superintendent David Hutt released a report ahead of the meeting recommending that Crestmoor and El Crystal elementary schools be closed.

His recommendation, which he said was based on findings from consulting firm Total School Solutions, was based on the fact that those two schools would be left with the smallest school populations once sixth graders move to Parkside Intermediate next year. That El Crystal was suddenly thrown into the school closure discussion came as a shock to many people, and they brought their frustrations—along with others—to the meeting.

In addition to taking a vote on school closures, the board decided to move forward with exploring whether to put a parcel tax on the November ballot. Schools trustee Jennifer Blanco also proposed creating a committee comprised of officials, teachers and residents that would look at how to prevent all future school closures.

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Edwin S April 26, 2012 at 04:33 PM
School closure continues to loom over the community - but the real story here is the absolute lambasting of the superintendent. It went on and on and on and on - and the great majority of it was correct and factual. If you were there or watched on cable you know firsthand that the community is resentful of, and does not trust this Sup. Please watch the cable re-broadcast and see for yourself. We have amazing positive energy; The public is ready to step up. But the Board must provide appropriate guidance and framework, they can not simply say “you all promised to help, where’s the money” in November. This has been the leadership style, and it must stop now. Their must be actual leadership now. But will the leadership of this school district issue a public apologies and promise immediately move towards rebuilding good will within the community? I hope this board is not so obsessed with “cents” that they havn’t the “sense” to see that we are dangerously close to tarnishing the image of this district for years to come – “sense” will lead to more “cents”. Will they reach out to the familes that have transferred out of the district and ask they why they are leaving? Again, I hope so, for if not I’m afraid the proposed SOS committee is guaranteed to fail, and the district will be left in shambles as the board members move on with their personal lives and the Sup retires.
Matt McGinn April 26, 2012 at 06:51 PM
We must put pressure on the SB City Government to find a way to use some of the $50 mil from PG&E for the SBPSD. If the City Council truly want to repair San Bruno's tarnished image and failing property values then it must take an interest in it's schools. We need to educate the people of San Bruno that this money is there and that it can be used for the schools with some creativity on the part of the City Council. The ONLY emergency in the City of San Bruno is the financial state of it's schools NOT a new library.
Edwin S April 26, 2012 at 07:56 PM
Martin, during the meeting Mr Martinez stated that he would vote NO since Dr Hutt's proposal only offered a "negative" and no positive solutions - isn't that correct. I'm certain I heard him say that multiple times. How is it that it is mentioned here that he voted for Hutt's proposal? Please confirm, thank you.
Martin Ricard (Editor) April 26, 2012 at 08:57 PM
You're correct, Edwin. But Kevin was actually opposed to closing any schools just like everyone else. He just felt that there needed to be another solution on the table before the school board just said no to school closures. Because there were no other "positive" solutions presented—like waiting until November to see if the district could get more funding sources, as he proposed—he voted for Dr. Hutt's recommendation. Kevin, if I didn't get that right, please let us know.
Heidi Beck April 26, 2012 at 09:09 PM
I'm going to have to find time to watch the mtg on TV because even though I was there, the sound was terrible and you could hardly hear a thing where I was sitting. There were three motions they voted on, from what I could hear. I'm not sure which one Kevin dissented on, and I hope people don't pounce on him for that, because what little I could hear of what he said, he was talking about the need for long-term, sustainable solutions. And that's what we need -- one-time windfalls or short-term solutions are just not going to cut it. Another thought I had after the meeting, and I had alluded to this in my remarks at Rollingwood the previous week, we really have to be careful not to make our children fearful. Yes, the prospect of one's familiar school closing can make a child anxious, but San Bruno is a family, as so many of us said at the meetings, and we need to reassure our children, not frighten them. Our city is not that big, and our kids can make new friends and maintain old friendships with kids at other schools through sports, 4-H, church groups, etc. and even just hanging around and playing in the neighborhood. My kids, now in college, have friends that attended a variety of schools on the Peninsula, because people do move around but friends stay in touch.
Heidi Beck April 26, 2012 at 09:12 PM
Thanks, Martin, for the clarification on Kevin's remarks.
ANNA MAY MAY April 26, 2012 at 09:21 PM
I want to thank San Bruno Park School Board for listening to the people of San Bruno and keeping open Crestmoor and El Crystal Schools. I'm sure my husband, Gene, is smiling at you from heaven. Sincerely, Anna May May
Robert Riechel April 26, 2012 at 10:01 PM
I heard there was another vote that went 3-2. If so, what was it about?
Chris Kiely April 26, 2012 at 10:22 PM
So you think the Board "rejected" the proposal? Is that really true. 1)Hutt asked the Board to say "We won't close next year, but if we don't get taxes in November we will close for 13-14 ." 2)Martinez asked the Board to say: "We won't close next year, but if we don't get taxes in November we will have to revisit closing for 13-14 ." 3)Board said: "We won't close next year, that is our firm vote, but by the way if we don't get taxes in November we will have to look at the whole thing again." Mr. Henderson repeatedly said that this wasn't blackmail. He's right. It's more like a protection racket. "You've gotta nice little school here, I'd hate to see anything happen to it.........by the way, did I tell you we take donations and parcel taxes?"
Bill Baker April 27, 2012 at 12:11 AM
It appears that Hutt and this Board think that they can promote and pass an unpopular parcel tax measure by threatening students and their parents with school closings. Attempting to build a political constituency by threatening the educations of people's children and toying with people's emotions is a fool's errand. What we have here is an amateur hour example of political brinksmanship being devised and played out by the same cast of characters who wasted SBPSD money and time on the failed Measure O. This Board will never close these schools because they know that the parents who were yelling and screaming at them about this would join in a recall effort against them. It's fair to say that taxpayers in the SBPSD are getting tired of the problems being created by Mr. Hutt and this Board. Schemes, threats and intimidation tactics are no substitute for good government and competent administration of the SBPSD. The SBPSD has a quality and competency problem. If Hutt is replaced and a properly functioning Board is elected, educational quality will improve and fiscal integrity will be restored to the SBPSD. It's fair to say that at this point a recall of this Board should be strongly considered.
Heidi Beck April 27, 2012 at 03:24 AM
It's easy to call for a recall -- but recruiting people to run for the board is not. Being a board member is a tough job that takes a tremendous amount of time and abuse. I don't have to like or agree with all the board members, and can exercise my free speech rights to criticize my elected officials, and fellow citizens may exercise their right to vote 'em out or work for a recall -- but I do respect them for stepping up to the plate and performing a public duty. And I especially thank those who perform those duties conscientiously.
Bill Baker April 27, 2012 at 04:15 AM
Heidi. I am sure that based upon the performance of these Board Members and their refusal to fire Hutt, there are more than a few people in town who are up to the task of being a SBPSD Board Member and would compete for the job given the opportunity. The fact of the matter is that the SBPSD is headed in the wrong direction. A direction that has resulted in the SBPSD being placed in PI status. A direction that has resulted in never ending Budget deficits. A direction that has an ethics challenged Superintendent running a school district where he is supposed to serve as a role model. And that's just the tip of the proverbial iceberg. There is overwhelming evidence to support a recall effort against this Board at this point. The rest is up to the good people who live in the SBPSD.
Heidi Beck April 27, 2012 at 04:35 AM
I'll certainly agree that the board (not just the incumbents, but previous boards) has at times made what I would consider some truly boneheaded decisions, and there certainly has been behavior over the years (not just the recent past) that I would consider dishonest and unethical. But I'll have to disagree that the board is solely to blame for the fiscal straits and PI. Sacramento can take a lot of the blame for the former, and NCLB and its related measures for the latter.
Antonio Maramonte April 27, 2012 at 05:01 AM
I was disgusted with Dr.Hutt tactics on adding a Friday night surprise to close el crystal. I would question his integrity as should the board! For the last 4 yrs there have been too many ups and downs as well as I would call "fire drills" from teacher and principal layoffs to school closures! Why create and uproar with the community and not explore other options? As said at the meeting , not once have the reached out to the community for help with this issue! It's always a closed door session! Who knows what is really happening behind closed doors? I understand Mr. Martinez to a degree, but in my oppinion he was only wanting to begin the point to delay the vote for school closure only if measure o was on the ballet! Put the pride aside and get help from the community!! There are lots of people with professions that could help if you look at the possibilities. Othe areas have done so! So can we!!!
Bill Baker April 27, 2012 at 05:40 AM
Heidi, the buck stops with Hutt and the SBPSD Board. Blaming Sacramento, Washington or the Tooth Fairy for the SBPSD's problems is nothing more than buck passing. These folks weren't elected and Hutt wasn't hired to pass the buck. The SBPSD Board was elected to oversee and adopt and Hutt was hired to create and implement effective strategies (not harebrained schemes) to successfully deal with the unstable environment that the SBPSD operates in. If they don't have the skill set to do this, then they need to step aside or be removed from office so that competent people can get control of this situation.
Heidi Beck April 27, 2012 at 06:41 AM
Granted, folks, it's not rocket science, but if it were so damn easy we wouldn't be in the mess we're in. Ask yourself: Why are there so many idiots and incompetent, unethical people in elected office -- and why are are we so stupid to elect them? It's been said (Tocqueville, if I remember my high school civics class) we get the government we deserve, so it's OUR fault -- quit blaming them. If you can do the job better, then step up to the plate, please, for all our sakes. And for folks who demand to "see the numbers" of the school budget, it's public information, and it's available at the district office.
Bill Baker April 27, 2012 at 04:31 PM
The buck stops with Hutt and the SBPSD Board. It doesn't matter who else might or might not run for office, whether the jobs are easy or difficult, whether or not we are talking about "rocket science" or who did or didn't elect these Board members. Hutt was hired by the SBPSD Board because he claimed to be a "professional" Superintendent. Therefore, he was and is required to produce professional level results and conduct himself in an ethical, professional manner. The Members of the SBPSD Board have all run for office making claims that they will improve the condition of the SBPSD. All SBPSD Board Members have been in office for many years and in the case of Mr. Henderson, many decades. The academic and fiscal conditions in the SBPSD have been deteriorating for many years. Hutt and his Board have nobody to blame but themselves because they are required to be successful in whatever environment they find themselves operating in. Excuses, buck passing and weak alibis for bad behavior and performance are no substitute for required success and ethical conduct.
Jim Prescott April 27, 2012 at 05:07 PM
Anna May May, Thank you. It was a long meeting, but very important to let the community be heard. I loved the children best. Some of them spoke and I was very proud of it. As you know I, with yours and Gene's help, have made a commitment to SB Schools, since the 60s. Oh, remember those days with Dr. Montandon? Your comments made my day. Love, Jim P
Heidi Beck April 27, 2012 at 05:21 PM
Aww, gimme a break. The buck stops with you. When are you starting the recall you keep talking about? By the way, when's the last time you attended a school board meeting?
Henry Lowood April 27, 2012 at 07:22 PM
I was watching on TV,but if I recall correctly, the Board voted unanimously to support the SOS committee. These are really two separate issues. Martinez was making a point that short-term fixes only kick the can down the road; what is needed is a longer-term solution, and he specifically mentioned the parcel tax. If support for a parcel tax is what you mean by the community stepping up, then you are in agreement with him. It's important to be clear about what community support means. It means $$. And yes, I agree too and will support the parcel tax. I hope it is set high enough to clear the budget for at least five years, and I hope SB passes it.
Bill Baker April 27, 2012 at 08:27 PM
Heidi, why are you waiting for me to start the recall? Why don't you step up to the plate and start it? The buck also stops with people like you who support this nonsense and/or don't do anything to change it. Have you ever run for or been elected to any political office? Why don't you put your name on the ballot for the SBPSD Board? I might even support you if you have a workable plan. And, if as you say, the buck stops with me, then I have done my job. My supporters and I stopped Measure O. We stopped Measure F. I have published the San Bruno Beacon since 1995. What have you done? What did you do in the Measure O campaign? You certainly weren't working with us to oppose it. If you were working to support it, did you succeed? In the words of Heidi Beck, "gimme a break".
Heidi Beck April 27, 2012 at 08:35 PM
I'm not the one calling for a recall. And I've done plenty of volunteer work in the schools you have absolutely no idea about. I'm doing what I want to do. And you are free to do the same.
DC Nice April 28, 2012 at 03:51 PM
Bill your level of rudeness is ridiculous. After watching this debate on school closure at least three times, I've reached the following conclusions: A) the parents in the district want small local "private" like schools in their neighborhood and B) the community will need to either pass a parcel tax, bump up the foundation or both and c) while I don't agree with how the board does everything, it appears that people really get off on lambasting people in a thankless job. Comments like we need a framework from the board, we need the number from them....Come on what are you waiting for. The community could benefit from stepping up trying to reconfigure the district into magnet schools and raise money to keep schools specialized and small. So is the foundation ready to change and do this differently than they have? They weren't before, which is why my dollars went directly to Parkside at that time. It would be good if they could though...... And Bill please don't pick on Heidi. I don't know many community members that attend most board meetings, pick up the agenda and READ THE WHOLE thing before hand and actively participate.
Heidi Beck April 28, 2012 at 04:37 PM
Thank you!
Bill Baker April 28, 2012 at 05:51 PM
DC, why don't you come out from behind your alias so we can connect you with your agenda and comments? I was responding to Ms. Beck's comments to me. Certainly nobody is being "picked on" and as evidenced by her almost daily comments in the Patch, Ms. Beck is more than able to defend herself against imagined or real instances of being "picked on". As evidenced by your comments you do not understand the issues pertaining to taxation or the economic impact that increasing tax burdens have on taxpayers who live in communities like San Bruno. Perhaps if you did understand the issues better you would be able to intelligently discuss them without having to use an alias to disassociate yourself from your comments. Finally, with respect to the issue of "rudeness"; one of the rudest things you can do in an online forum is hide behind an alias while making the sniping comments you have made :-)
DC Nice April 28, 2012 at 11:15 PM
Using my initials is a problem.? I understand taxation Bill I just don't agree with u. Another way to say that is I have a different opinion.
Bill Baker April 29, 2012 at 02:15 AM
OK DC, if masking your identity gives you the cover and courage that you need to post your online comments, I guess we'll just have to live with that. Opinions are great! Everybody has one, just like everybody has a name ;-)
Chris Kiely May 01, 2012 at 12:32 AM
DC: What do you mean when you say: "So is the foundation ready to change and do this differently than they have? They weren't before, which is why my dollars went directly to Parkside at that time. It would be good if they could though......" What were the changes that you asked the Foundation to make, that they wouldn't do?
John Hanson May 19, 2012 at 03:30 PM
Let's get rid of Hutt before he does more damage to our schools.


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