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School District Looking to Close Two Schools?

Why is the San Bruno Park School Board now being asked to look at whether to close Crestmoor Elementary School and El Crystal Elementary School?

The San Bruno Park School District superintendent has apparently threw a new twist into the school closures discussion by recommending ahead of Wednesday's school board meeting that two schools should be closed.

Leading up to Wednesday's special board meeting, the focus has been on what could happen to Crestmoor Elementary. The San Bruno Park School District committee tasked with making a recommendation about school closures and move the school population to a nearby neighborhood school because it would be the least disruptive to the students.

However, Superintendent David Hutt said in a staff report accompanying Wednesday's agenda that El Crystal Elementary should now also be considered for closure.

That recommendation is based on the findings in the boundary study that Total School Solutions completed for the district in which the firm said that closing both Crestmoor and El Crystal—which would be left with the smallest school populations once sixth graders are moved to Parkside Intermediate next year—would help balance enrollment throughout the district and allow "each of the remaining five schools to have the capacity for sustained enrollment growth over a longer period."

"Having to close a school is not a desirable action to do or to consider," Hutt said in the report. "It is an action that is warranted in order to guarantee the quality of educational programs for all students and the professional support of staff."

The report also seems to indicate that Hutt is recommending that school closures, if approved by the board, should take place in the 2013-14 school year. The district isn't expecting to get a clear picture of its budget and enrollment numbers until October, he said.

What do you think?

Heidi Beck April 24, 2012 at 05:47 PM
I thought I was just being cynical when it occurred to me that this was a way for the district to close a school -- the superintendent could recommend two schools for closure, but the board could then decide to be more moderate and close only one. However, that's what I heard some other people saying this morning too, so maybe I'm no so cynical after all, or maybe that's just the effect the superintendent and the board have on people.
Woody W. April 24, 2012 at 07:31 PM
"It is an action that that is warranted in order to guarantee the quality of educational programs for all students and the professional support of staff." Really? Academic performance was not even a criterion in selecting schools for closure. It is all "BUSINESS". However, all successful businesses I know do the followings: 1. care about customer satisfaction 2. have clear vison and solid decision making processes 3. preserve infrastructure for unforseen future circumstances None of the above the school board possess. It seems they are really good at creating confusion and chaos to the community.
Cliona McHale April 24, 2012 at 08:22 PM
In 2012-2013, San Bruno will have more schools per number of enrolled students, and some smaller schools, than several nearby districts. SBPSD will have 7 elementary schools (with 88 to 335 students enrolled), for 1728 students, i.e. 1 school per 246 students (Total School Solutions). The numbers for nearby districts are as follows (data from 2010-2011 SARC reports): Millbrae (K-5): 4 schools (291 to 377 enrolled) for 1376 students, 1 per 344 students. Burlingame (K-5): 5 schools (294 to 549 enrolled) for 1932 students, 1 per 386 students. San Carlos (K-4): 4 schools (302 to 458 enrolled) for 1604 students, 1 per 401 students. Hillsborough (K-5): 3 schools (280 to 374 enrolled) for 1013 students, 1 per 337 students. Belmont-Redwood Shores (K-5): 6 schools (265 to 497 enrolled) for 2301 students, 1 per 384 students. Closing Crestmoor and El Crystal would give SBPSD 5 schools (331, 333, 337, 340, 349 enrolled) for 1728 students, i.e. 1 per 346 students (data for 2012-2013, projected by Total School Solutions). This is similar to nearby districts which incidentally have many high-performing schools.
Martin Ricard (Editor) April 24, 2012 at 08:53 PM
Interesting observation.
John Marinos April 24, 2012 at 09:30 PM
It is an observation that is 100% NOT true!. NO school in SBPSD will have 88 students enrolled nor even close to that small amount! In addition, San Carlos, Burlingame, and Redwood Shores all are trying to find more space for students.
Cliona McHale April 24, 2012 at 10:14 PM
The SB figures are from the Total School Solutions report as stated above. I believe their projected enrollments are based on attendance boundaries served by the schools and do not include intra-district transfers which are at the discretion of the district. The point I was trying to make was that the size of our 5 schools under the District's proposed reconfiguration need not preclude academic excellence and may even promote it through the benefits of reduced combination classes, etc. We would retain our excellent teachers. Two nearby schools in South Francisco, Monte Verde and Ponderosa, also have high API scores and have 534 and 435 students enrolled. The assumption seems to be that there will be a compromise on academic quality and I just wanted to examine whether it is justified. I am not a teacher and am making assumptions based on my observations. Many schools, not just those closed, will be affected if the district adopts the recommendations. Finally, according to the school capacities in Appendix A of the Total School Solutions report, calculated by the DDAC committee, each of the 5 schools after the proposed configuration would have enrollments at 46-68% capacity.
Rob Chapman April 25, 2012 at 12:45 AM
They are "considering" closing 2 schools so they can successfully close 1 school and say "Look, we compromised, we're only going to close 1 school instead of 2" They have no intention of closing 2 schools. This is just a sneaky & shady tactic to get what they want.
kevin April 25, 2012 at 02:15 AM
lets take a closer look at the school closing... dr hutt... 1.will not close john muri his wife rns the day care there... she also failed to pay income taxes... so hutt's raise that was talked about behind closed doors last week will help. 2. skip henderson voted already with henry sanchez and hutt to close el crystal.... you think those 3 would vote differently... they are buddies.. plus good old skip doesnt want to see the school ( crestmoor) that al his kids went to close....... m makes you think whats really going on down there at the district office... some behind the door meetings........ some secret phone calls...... maybe some favors down to sway votes........
kevin April 25, 2012 at 02:18 AM
http://sanbruno.patch.com/articles/omission-leads-to-fine-for-san-bruno-park-superintendent
Heidi Beck April 25, 2012 at 02:50 AM
You make a good point that we have unusually small schools for the area, and with the changing demographics, they are only going to get smaller unless there is consolidation/closing. Financially, this situation is not sustainable. Declining enrollment is not a recent problem -- think of the schools (all west of 280) that have closed. It has been many years since Crestmoor HS, Engvall middle school and Sandburg elementary have closed. All before I ever lived in San Bruno, and people still talk about them and are upset about them closing all these years later! Focusing solely on the numbers to close a school is a problem. It may be the most "objective" measure, but closing a school should benefit the district -- and not just in money, but programmatically. As flawed as the criteria were the DDAC were asked to consider, the committee did look at factors beyond enrollment, and I think they came up with a much better report/recommendation than the superintendant did. I am disgusted by his lack of respect for a committee that did the job it was charged to do.
Heidi Beck April 25, 2012 at 03:14 AM
I agree with your point that reconfiguration need not preclude academic excellence. I think it SHOULD be about academic excellence. That was the whole point of making Parkside 6-8 after Crestmoor requested to be made K-8 so the kids wouldn't have to go to Parkside. (Of course, with all the budget cuts, Parkside may have a nice building, but all the hoped-for electives and programs were just a pipe dream.) That's why I'm bothered about El Crystal being on the hit list at the 11th hour. Yes, it's small, but it's the most wired school in the community -- it even has a demonstration center that teachers from all over the area come to learn from. This is an incredible asset to the district and other teachers in the area! It's great to have a small school to test and pilot programs and equipment before scaling them district wide. This is something that happens at one school, but it benefits the entire district. That is what we need to be looking at -- the big picture, not "this school is too small."
Heidi Beck April 25, 2012 at 04:52 AM
But enrollment is going UP in those communities. Redwood Shores is going up because there was a lot of family housing built. Burlingame and San Carlos went up for a couple of reasons, including strong schools that attract families and the economy, which forced many families to pull their kids out of private schools and put them in strong public schools.
Scott C. April 25, 2012 at 09:06 AM
Wondering... What makes a great district supervisor? Charima? Collaborative skills? Communication skills? Compelling vision? What are the positive traits that make our current supervisor worthy of his paycheck? And what is that paycheck? $160,000/yr? Bonuses? And what are his performance goals? Close 2 schools? Just wondering...
Chuck Zelnik April 25, 2012 at 02:49 PM
When you ask what make a good superintendent the answer is a great school board. The problem is there is no real leadership, vision for the future, commitment to higher quality education and the willingness for meaningful change. As new school age parents start through the system They think these issue are new, where in fact these problem are the same old problem of the past. The board has never had true long term goals for the students of San Bruno School District. If you look into past years, the goals change every year. So this board only deals with the current and never plans for the future. I spoke many times during the last election that a major overhaul of the district direction needs to take place, but the voter said they liked what they had. So real change has to take place at the ballot box and people have to quit following like sheep. I wonder what people would think about getting together out side of the system and forming a grass root movement for a better San Bruno School District?
JDH April 25, 2012 at 02:58 PM
They need to be told they all are "hideous hermaphroditical character(s) which has neither the force and firmness of a man, nor the gentleness and sensibility of a woman.”-thomas Jefferson. Short term solutions don't fix problems just delay them They need real plans with real solutions.
L April 25, 2012 at 06:00 PM
I agree with Mr. Zelnik, the Board has appeared not to have a "Vision" for the School District for years. It appears that they justt follow along with the members who have been there forever....
Sonia R. April 25, 2012 at 07:02 PM
Where is the differential solution explored to close Parkside and make SBPSD elementary schools K-8? Another possible solution that has been overlooked.
Chris Kiely April 25, 2012 at 08:13 PM
Sonia- I don't know that all, or even most parents would want their kids in the one-little-schoolhouse mode for 9 years. Probably some do. I wouldn't have wanted that for my four kids when they went through Parkside. Also, that makes it even harder to avoid the elitist "my school, to hell with the rest of the kids" mentality that has been bubbling up from below the surface recently. Actually, the K-8 configuration WAS considered by the a District Committee (I think Long Range Planning) in 06-07. Some people liked the idea, but more opposed. It was decided that there wasn't enough support to justify forcing ALL the families in SB to go K-8. The Committee recommended that Parkside be made 6-8 for educational reasons, AND that the District look at establishing a SINGLE K-8 campus, that anyone in the District could apply to. (A District K-8, not a neighborhood K-8, so it wouldn't have favored any particular kids). That would have made the changes needed at Parkside, and left a safety valve for parents who were sold on the K-8 model. If the Board had moved ahead at the time, both pieces of that puzzle could have been done quickly, likely by the start of the 9-10 school year. They were too busy, however, with their creative financing of the deficit. They dropped the issue until the community demanded in 09-10 that they do something about Parkside. By that point, local politics had given the K-8 concept a bad connotation.
M Z April 26, 2012 at 02:44 AM
Pacifica school district has 2 K-5 schools, 3 K-8 schools and 1 middle school. This model gives parents options. The K-8 model is so popular that they have had a lottery pocess for the last several years. I think this would be a great option for the SBPSD since we are in T1. Belle Aire is in the last years of T1, so something has got to happen.
Chris Kiely May 09, 2012 at 01:17 AM
The School Board failed to really consider doing both 6-8 & a district-wide K-8 back in 07 when Long-Range Planning recommended it. Opportunity wasted. Back then, we had the facilities $$$ to do Parkside & upgrade one of the elementary schools to go K-8. My thought at the time was to take one of the uphill schools for the K-8, and build a small gym there, then let the City use it for a rec-center during non-school hours. I wonder how many people who have left the District would still be here if the Board had moved toward exapanding Parkside AND doing a lottery based K-8 back in early 08, instead of messing around with their creative financing schemes.

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