Last night, as school district staff announced their recommendation to shrink the boundaries of Hillcrest (see map on page 4), Oakland’s most prestigious public school, I didn’t envy many people in the room.
Not the staff delivering the news, or trying to explain the demographics over constant interruptions by stressed-out members of the crowd. Not the parents who paid a Hillcrest premium on their homes to find that they would probably be redistricted into another school zone, or those whose children might be split between elementary schools.
But those outside of Upper Rockridge will be affected by this thorny situation as well. Neighboring Chabot and Montclair schools – who learned just this week that their attendance boundaries might be expanded to include an extra 5 to 15 (formerly) Hillcrest kindergarteners each year – noted that the change would restrict their ability to educate children from less affluent areas through the Options process.
One parent at the meeting said the decision would create a greater gulf between the `haves’ of the hills and everyone else in the city. On the other hand, school board Kerry Hamill said the new boundaries would create more certainty. (Otherwise, about one-third of Hillcrest’s neighborhood kindergarten families would be redirected to another school each year.)
The school board votes on these recommendations — yes, it’s their first major vote that’s not advisory — on Dec. 19. They will first be presented at a meeting Dec. 12.What do you think the board should do?