The following letter was submitted by Renee Callantine, president of the Portola Elementary PTA. Submit your own letters by emailing email@example.com.
At the Feb. 13 meeting, the school board voted to close Crestmoor Elementary at the end of the school year. This decision was made in response to the district’s alleged fiscal uncertainty, and to reduce expenses over the next several years.
The decision to close Crestmoor is upsetting for students and families. Crestmoor has always been a gem in San Bruno, and I will miss seeing the children clad in green t-shirts playing in San Bruno school sports leagues. They will still play, but will wear different colored t-shirts. Which brings me to the subject of this letter: At the meeting, two other decisions were made late in the evening in response to an outcry by the Crestmoor families.
The original proposal was to transfer the 150 Crestmoor students to Rollingwood Elementary. This was a great idea because it kept Crestmoor students together and it strengthened Rollingwood, a school that suffers from low enrollment. But this did not sit well with the Crestmoor families, who argued against a complete move to Rollingwood.
So the school board made the eleventh-hour decision to allow current Crestmoor students who live within the Crestmoor boundaries (about 65 kids) to select any other school within the district as their home school for next year.
Students attending Crestmoor as intra- or inter-district transfers will be allowed to apply to any other San Bruno school on the same basis as any other transfer student. But the Crestmoor community is planning to petition the school board to also allow these transfer students to select any school they desire. The board also changed the boundaries of Portola Elementary by moving the Evergreen and Pacific Bay Vista apartment complexes to Rollingwood.
As a result, transfer students attending other schools in the district can now be bumped by students coming in from Crestmoor. And new students from moved apartment complexes will now have to cross Skyline Boulevard to get to school.
I do not criticize the Crestmoor families for wanting the best for their children. I object to handling the Crestmoor closure in a manner that disrupts all of the other schools in the district. The Crestmoor students could move to Rollingwood intact. By allowing them to have priority over other students, the school board has caused widespread anxiety, with families uncertain about where their children will attend school in the fall. This is wrong.
The school board should minimize the disruption that closing Crestmoor will cause by allowing students attending other schools as transfers to remain at those schools and not be bumped by students coming from Crestmoor.
Crestmoor families should have a say about which school their children will attend. But, it makes more sense to allow Crestmoor families to select three schools to apply to in order of preference. The school district should attempt to accommodate those preferences and place those students with the goal of maximizing full classes of same-grade students and minimizing split classes, all while considering school capacity.
It is a shame that the Crestmoor community has had a negative reaction to joining Rollingwood, as this would have been less disruptive on the entire community. Rollingwood does have a lower GreatSchools score than Crestmoor due to lower test scores. But the influx of Crestmoor students – and their actively-engaged families – would have a positive impact on Rollingwood and its GreatSchools rating.
Rollingwood would be the best school, from a commute perspective, to place students living in the Crestmoor boundaries. Students walking from within the Crestmoor area would have to cross only one major street – Sneath Lane – to get to school. That street has stop signs and cross walks and, with crossing guards, would be safer than crossing San Bruno Avenue or Skyline Boulevard.
The school board should also reverse its decision to redistrict Portola students from the Evergreen and Pacific Bay Vista apartment complexes to Rollingwood so that children in those communities are not forced to cross Skyline Boulevard.
If you agree with handling the Crestmoor closure in a less disruptive way for the rest of the local students, please consider clicking here and signing this petition.
What do you think of the school board's decision? Should Crestmoor students all go to Rollingwood? Should they have a choice of other schools? Tell us in the comments!