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No more room on the hill

By Katy Murphy
Tuesday, April 1st, 2008 at 7:30 pm in enrollment.

I posted a blog entry in December titled “Are Oakland’s `hills’ schools becoming more exclusive?” It was a rhetorical question, but I can now answer it definitively: Yes.

school2.jpgHere’s the back story: Back in December, a stream of Montclair Elementary School parents and others urged the Oakland school district not to expand their school’s local attendance boundaries. The change had been proposed to alleviate crowding at Hillcrest, which — like Montclair — has high test scores and is located in an affluent part of town.

The Montclair parents spoke about the importance of preserving the school’s racial and socioeconomic diversity and warned of overcrowding. (Chabot Elementary parents made a similar plea for the Rockridge school.) They argued that with a larger attendance area, the school would no longer have room for student transfers whose families who couldn’t afford the local real estate.

The latest: Montclair’s boundaries stayed the same — likely, because the parents’ arguments gave board members pause. But it turns out that the school doesn’t have room, anyway, for the children parents spoke of. Even the younger brothers and sisters of Montclair’s current “out-of-neighborhood” students were turned away for the coming fall, not to mention first-born kids who live in the flatlands.

A brief explanation: Oakland Unified has a neighborhood-first enrollment policy. But some schools — such as Montclair — had enough remaining space to enroll kids from other parts of the city through Oakland’s School Options process.

Not this time around. According to the school district’s 2008 Options data, Montclair had 81 neighborhood applications for, if I’m not mistaken, three kindergarten classrooms.

Montclair is not alone. Few, if any, of the highly popular “hills” elementary schools were much of an option this year for kids who live near struggling schools. Chabot, too, will likely have less room than before, since it admitted 13 Hillcrest-area children who were displaced from their neighborhood school.

That’s not to say children need to attend one of those schools to receive a good education. It’s just that the choice really isn’t there unless you live in the neighborhood — and maybe not even then.

What happened at Hillcrest? According to Options data, 22 future kindergarteners from the Hillcrest area were admitted to nearby hills schools after being bumped from Hillcrest. In addition to Chabot, eight were assigned to Thornhill and one to Kaiser.

I’ve requested some other information along these lines, which I’ll report soon. In the meantime, if you have good ideas for the district’s long-term enrollment plans and attendance boundary changes, you can weigh in at the next meeting of the Special Committee on School Admissions, Attendance and Boundaries. It’s at 7:30 a.m. Friday in the district office, 1025 Second Ave.

Here is the agenda.

image from aryah’s site at flickr.com/creativecommons

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  • hills parent

    I understand the concern that children from the flatlands are finding it difficult to gain entrance into the “hills” schools. However, if neighborhood hills children are deferred to other schools it will only be a matter of time (short time, at that) in which these families will just either leave Oakland for communities with strong schools or place them into private schools.

    Can OUSD continue to lose this ADA in the future? Or even more importantly, do they even care?

    Is not the solution to improve other schools in Oakland, so that all schools are desirable. Or is the problem that the district office at OUSD does not know how to do this??? If they don’t, then it is time to bring in staff who can effect these changes.

    The recent statistics about non-grads in Oakland should serve to warn the community and OUSD that massive change is needed, not its continual “band-aid approach”.

  • cranky teacher

    Hills Parent makes good points. There is no easy solution to the neighborhood vs. choice dilemma.

    Berkeley has lotteries for big district areas and many parents who don’t get their neighborhood school end up going private. (Only roughly half of schoolage children in liberal Berkeley attend public school.)

  • Caroline

    Well, Hills Parent, it’s not like there’s an easy way to make schools that serve high numbers of high-need students suddenly better. In fact, there’s not even a hard way. No school district anywhere in the world has pulled that off. Ideas? Who are the “staff who can effect those changes?”

  • dmh

    Cranky says that only about half of Berkeley’s kids stay in their public schools. I’m shocked it’s that low, and i find that instructive regarding OUSD. The reputation of Berkeley’s schools is much better than Oakland’s, aside from the few Oakland hills schools that are in high demand. So, you can be sure that the vast majority of Oakland’s wealthier families that are shipped out of high performing schools will opt out of OUSD, if not Oakland itself. This weakens the entire system. And, do families that opt out of the lower and middle level Oakland schools to go to the higher performing schools, hurt the schools that they’ve left behind? Neighborhoods invest in their schools much more if the neighborhood kids get to attend them.

  • hills parent

    Caroline:

    I understand that there are no easy solutions. However, it has been evident that OUSD has not been able to effect the change necessary. My personal experiences with the district office staff has made it evident to me that the Peter Principle may be alive and well in OUSD. As a school administrator (in another district) I have shared my experiences with OUSD district staff with my own colleagues, who are amazed at what occurs in Oakland.

    Am I happy about everything in my own child’s “hill” schools. Absolutely not! Do I speak up about it? Absolutely, but to deaf ears at the district office.

  • Caroline

    Well, perhaps one could replace a substandard staff with a better staff — that’s one thing. But finding a staff that can magically “make all the schools good?” Not on this planet. The systemic changes need to go far, far beyond educators and school district administrators.

  • hills parent

    Caroline:

    I agree with your point. However, a good starting point is to replace ineffective district office administrators. It is apparent to me that they have not a clue what is happening, or rather not happening, at my own “hill” school. When the D.O. is clueless then the problem will be systemic.

  • Sharon

    If the reputations of Berkeley schools are better than Oakland schools, here’s how the most recent CDE’s numbers compare:

    BERKELEY VS. OAKLAND
    STUDENT PERCENTAGES
    African American: 30 vs. 38
    Asian: 7 vs. 16
    Hispanic or Latino: 18 vs. 36
    White: 28 vs. 6
    Participants in Free or Reduced-Price Lunch: 42 vs. 71
    Average Parent Education Level (STAR): 3.50 vs. 2.33

    BERKELEY VS. OAKLAND
    PERCENTAGE PROFICIENT FOR ENGLISH-LANGUAGE ARTS
    District-wide: 52.9 vs. 33.8
    African American or Black (not of Hispanic origin) 25.8 vs. 26.4
    Asian: 57.8 vs. 56.0
    Hispanic or Latino: 31.1 vs. 21.5
    White (not of Hispanic origin): 85.8 vs. 80.6
    Socioeconomically Disadvantaged: 29.6 vs. 26.7
    English Learners: 25.7 vs. 22.5

    BERKELEY VS. OAKLAND
    PERCENTAGE PROFICIENT FOR MATHEMATICS
    District-wide: 51.6 vs. 37.9
    African American or Black (not of Hispanic origin) 24.2 vs. 25.3
    Asian: 64.4 vs. 66.5
    Hispanic or Latino: 37.2 vs. 29.8
    White (not of Hispanic origin): 80.6 vs. 78.5
    Socioeconomically Disadvantaged: 32.6 vs. 32.5
    English Learners: 35.8 vs. 34.5

    Basically, BUSD is whiter, wealthier, and more educated, thus the reputation for being “better.”

  • Foothills Mom

    What I have not seen discussed publicly regarding the Hillcrest situation is that there are 6th, 7th and 8th graders taking up space at Hillcrest. It is the *only* small public (non-charter) middle school in the entire city of Oakland that is attached to a K-5.

    How can it be that “22 future kindergarteners from the Hillcrest area were admitted to nearby hills schools after being bumped from Hillcrest” when the school continues to house what is essentially an exclusive private middle school, which, by the way, is being paid for with everyone’s tax dollars!

    Why should Hillcrest be able to retain 6th, 7th and 8th grades, while sending an entire K class full of kids to Chabot, which in turn prevents Chabot from admitting anyone from outside their neighborhood?! How can Hillcrest retain this incredible privilege, and why is this not part of the conversation?

    It just amazes me that in 2008 there are pockets of publicly funded privilege in such a struggling, needy city! Please, please, add this to the discussion at the next meeting of the Special Committee on School Admissions, Attendance and Boundaries. Thanks for listening.

  • Katy Murphy

    Hillcrest’s middle school question was debated by the public during those December board meetings I mentioned, but I’m not sure where the board stands on that issue, or if separating the middle school is under consideration. I’ll try to find out.

    Also, while K-8 schools are certainly rare in Oakland, it should be noted that ASCEND, a small public (non-charter) school in East Oakland, has that grade configuration, too.

  • Public school fan

    The Hillcrest situation was well-covered in this blog during the late fall and early winter, but it bears repeating that OUSD found that the elimination of Hillcrest’s middle school would not allow the school to add one or more extra kindergarten classes. While the phrase “middle school” may bring to mind over a hundred students and multiple classrooms, that is not the case at Hillcrest. At Hillcrest, the middle school uses only 2 classrooms and is composed of combined 6/7/8 graders (i.e., they are mixed grade classes).

    As OUSD has noted, freeing up those 2 classrooms does not create enough space to allow one or more extra kindergarten classes. Why? Because the school’s physical plant is small and the existing k-5 already overcrowded. There is no unused classroom space. 2 classrooms freed up from the middle school are insufficient to allow for any extra kindergartners to move up through the grades over time. There would have to be classrooms added for each grade from K-5 to house the cohort as it moved up each year and maintain those classrooms for the next cohort moving up, because OUSD projects that there will be too many potential K applicants for the foreseeable future.

    The school population is already so large for its space, that if you move into the neighborhood after K, I have heard that you will have no shot at getting your child into any of the other grades. (This is yet another problem that should be addressed) Thus, the current school population from K-5 is so large, that doing away with the 2 middle school classes would not only not allow for extra future K classes, but will not even solve the existing overcrowding issues at the school. All of this info is in OUSD documents from the meetings it held in the late fall and early winter.

    I don’t know what the answer is to solving not only Hillcrest’s overcrowding issue, but also the overcrowding issue this year for Montclair’s kindergarten (they did not have room for all 2008-09 K neighborhood applicants either), as well as Peralta’s, and the overcrowding projected for Redwood Heights in 2009. This is not just Hillcrest’s issue. Obviously, more parents in these neighborhoods are opting for public schools. This would seem to be a good thing for OUSD with its enrollment precipitously declining across the city. But with the good, so it also raises some difficult, complex issues that are bad and not easily solved. Good luck to whomever gets elected to the school board in June.

  • Foothills Mom

    Thanks to the Public School Fan for a thoughtful, informative letter. I understand that it’s not 100 kids in Hillcrest’s middle school, but according to the OUSD website, it is 66, which is still substantial.

    Surely by diverting the 2 middle school classes to Claremont, and increasing the 2nd and 3rd grade classes to 30 per classroom, there would be enough room for 60 incoming kindergarteners, even if all of them stayed at Hillcrest through 5th grade?

    According to the Hillcrest PTA website, the school’s annual benefit, held every fall, regularly raises $200,000 in a single night. That’s an extraordinary amount of money that most OUSD schools’ PTAs can’t even dream about raising. (By comparison, our foothills school’s PTA strugges to raise $30K throughout the year!) $200,000+ should pay for full time aides for the 2nd and 3rd grade teachers, in addition to Hillcrest’s other needs.

    In this way, Chabot and Montclair will have room for their neighborhood kids, as well as siblings and some Program Improvement kids. Another really positive thing about moving Hillcrest’s middle school kids to Claremont is that, along with the Chabot graduates and others who are currently attending Claremont, it would almost certainly create a critical mass of parents with time and resources to make Claremont into a really high performing middle school. In a couple of years, kids from all across Oakland will fight to get into Claremont!

    So let’s try to even things out a bit — in my opinion, the time has passed for OUSD and the taxpayers of Oakland to pay for an essentially private middle school at Hillcrest. Thanks again for listening.

  • Public school fan

    As regards physical space at Hillcrest, I neglected to mention that by the time the students get to 4th grade and 5th grade, there is only one classroom per grade available. I guess traditionally the thought was that people left the school in numbers such that by the time kids got to the 4th grade, there wasn’t the need for more than one classroom. That is no longer the case. OUSD’s figures show that attrition at the school has dropped significantly over the last 4 years or so. So it’s success in retaining its students has broken its model.

    If, as Foothills Mom suggests, the 2 middle school classrooms were eliminated and used for presumably an extra K class and an extra 1 class (because under union rules you are not allowed to have 30 kids per class in those grades), and you put 30 kids per class in the 2nd and 3rd grades (which is currently against OUSD policy for small class size, although I understand that this will probably change with all of the overcrowding issues plus budget cuts across the district), then you end up with 60 kids for one classroom of 4th and 60 kids for one classroom of 5th, assuming that no child leaves the school in response to the overcrowding that would already result. That’s why if you wanted to increase the K class to 60 (which might still not be enough slots for neighborhood kids), you’d have to increase the amount of classroom space for the other grades as well, by more than the 2 classrooms currently taken up by the middle school. Those 2 classrooms just aren’t enough to increase the K size to such an extent.

    Foothills Mom has an interesting suggestion to send the Hillcrest middle schoolers to Claremont Middle. Look at the numbers that OUSD has provided (again as part of its winter meetings — I wish I could direct you right to the spot, but OUSD’s website is a maze to me) for Claremont Middle. The number of neighborhood kids who attend from Chabot and elsewhere in the neighborhood is miniscule. There are very very few Chabot graduates attending Claremont. I believe that Claremont is a PI school and has been for some years(although I wouldn’t swear to my memory being accurate on that).

    People have been trying for at least the last 5 years to create the impetus and critical mass at the school to spark neighborhood attendance there. There was even a Rockridge Supports Claremont neighborhood parents group started several years ago to encourage families to eventually continue on to Claremont. So far to no avail. The school just hasn’t produced enough improvement for neighborhood parents to send their kids there. It is a tough dilemma for parents who support public school; they want to attend the neighborhood school, help to improve the neighborhood school, but not at the cost of being the guinea pigs to try it. It is a hard, hard dilemma. It is hard to reach that critical mass.

    Thus, I doubt that if Hillcrest middle schoolers were redirected there, they would actually attend. I imagine that like most Chabot parents, they would opt for private school if they could. Perhaps this is one of the answers to the situation, just give everyone unappealing choices and, if they are able to do so, they will move to another school district or go private. Certainly, attrition does help an overcrowding situation. However, it seems to me that surely this is not the only way to beat this problem?

    Frankly, given OUSD’s seeming support, encouragement, and funding for establishing small middle schools, high schools, and charters (often as a separate entity on the physical grounds of an underenrolled school)it seems to me that many of the “hills” schools and perhaps even other interested schools might benefit from establishing their own small middle schools or perhaps combining to form their own middle schools. The research does seem to indicate that small schools “perform” better (at the risk of a huge generalization there). OUSD certainly has facilities that are underutilized that could be used in this way. Such a plan might also serve to keep many families in the Oakland public school system. Right now, there’s an exodus first at 6th grade and then at 9th grade to private schools (or to other school districts) because the middle and high school options are limited. Keeping kids in the OUSD seems to be a high priority given the declining enrollment rates. Or even how about some academic magnet middle schools?

    These problems are not just Hillcrest’s. Redwood Heights will soon be in the same position and Montclair already is. So, obviously any solution must be one that is not just focused on one school, but on all impacted schools and the system as a whole.

  • Another Hills Parent

    Foothills Mom: I can appreciate your passion over this issue. Just one point:

    Increasing class sizes to 30 students at 1st/2nd & 3rd grade would cause OUSD to actively and willingly violate the “class size reduction” program, a program attached to funding. I doubt the district will risk this funding. Likewise, the move from 20 to 30 students per class at grades 1-3 assumes a flexibility in union/teacher contractual issues that I doubt exists. And then you have the parents to deal with whom I’m sure will not be happy with such a drastic increase in class size (and for good reason).

    So there really is no way to offer Hillcrest K enrollment to all from the neighborhood given the small site. I believe the Board was convinced by this fact when it approved the district’s staff recommendations to limit the K enrollment to 40.

    How it will deal with the middle school issue at Hillcrest will be a political one because Board members are knowledgeable enough NOT to believe the “our middle school is working!” argument made by Hillcrest parents. (OF COURSE it is working – all the kids come from highly educated families! End of story.)

    If the Board eliminates the middle school it will do so to pacify the majority of the Hills people who (finally) noticed that only one school in the Hills has a K-8 and they have no hope whatsoever of ever converting Chabot/Montclair/Thornhill to K-8 and so why should Hillcrest get this option when no one else does? And the non-hills folks whose younger children were not allowed to join their siblings as transfer students to Chabot and Montera are also fired up (for good reason)

    Hillcrest parents will be very upset, to say the least, but their numbers are too small to hold sway in Board re-elections. Eliminating the middle school at Hillcrest will result in freeing up only two classrooms BUT these classrooms can and will be put to good use both during and after school. And this will avoid having to implement a “lottery” for just 20 6th grade slots (another district recommendation) – something Hillcrest parents are really concerned about.

  • hills parent

    Public School Fan:

    I feel that the problem is bigger than overcrowded schools. Just this weekend I attended a children’s party in which 3 of 4 families (not affluent families) have decided to leave Oakland schools for points West and North. This will be costly for all of the families involved. One of the three is a teacher in Oakland and cited the “dysfunctional school district office” that provides little or no leadership to the schools. She is looking to teach elsewhere.

    The ship is sinking, there is no captain, and the crew is sitting on the deck watching the ship sink.

    I believe in public schools, but not at the risk of making my children guinea pigs (as someone previously stated. Having lived in Oakland for the past 15 years I have seen the situation worsen. I had hope at one time. Now I have no hope.

  • Public school fan

    What a great discussion, Hills Parent, Another Hills Parent, and Foothills Mom! Wish that we had some answers. I suppose if we did, we’d be running for school board. Although I am positive that none of the current candidates have any answers either!

    Anyway, just a few points. Yes, Another Hills Parent, freeing up 2 classrooms by eliminating Hillcrest’s middle school would help a bit in the overcrowded situation with the other grades at the school, but it would not solve it. There would still not be enough room for all of the current students much less any new ones and certainly not all potential kindergartners who want in for the forseeable future. As for the benefit in freeing up those classrooms for “after school” uses (as you suggest), no benefit exists. Unlike other OUSD schools, Hillcrest has no after school programs or groups that are allowed to use any classrooms other than on Wednesday minimum days. It is my understanding that afterschool care uses no classrooms other than the school’s cafeteria/multipurpose room and has no need to do so. So, no benefit there.

    Furthermore, I find it hard to believe that the best argument for getting rid of Hillcrest’s middle school is that none of the other “hills” schools have one. You are likely right, Another Hills Parent, that the test scores of Hillcrest’s middle school are high because of the educational background of those students’ families. But I don’t think that is the sum and substance of those families’ argument that the middle school “works”. It is my understanding that part of the argument for the K-8 model (and the part of the argument that is supported by various studies noted by OUSD)is that middle schoolers do better when joined with younger children. I’m not sure I’m phrasing this argument properly, but I think the argument is that keeping preteens and early teens out of isolation or out of the older kid environment allows them to maintain healthier social bonds. Again, I doubt I’m doing this argument justice — but I’m trying to explain it to the best of my ability. Allowing the little kids to look up to the big kids and the big kids to help the little kids has many advantages both socially and academically for all students. In other words, it is not all about test scores but also about growing up in an environment where your contributions are valued and encouraged and you are not growing up too quickly.

    That being said, perhaps it is in the best interest of everyone if the Hillcrest middle school were broken up and made a part of some new “hills” middle school. Or perhaps the answer to have “hills” parents form a charter middle school or really push OUSD to start a magnet middle school. Obviously other “hills” parents would like a model similar to Hillcrest’s for their elementary schools, otherwise there might not be so much enmity for a school that has a 6-8 program, while others do not.

    Have Chabot or Montclair or Thornhill or Redwood Heights tried to start a middle school? Have they been rebuffed by OUSD? Another Hills Parent, why is it impossible for those schools to have one? Has OUSD definitively ruled it out? And, if so, why on earth would they? Are they hoping that everyone will just suddenly start finding Claremont Middle or one of the other middle schools an acceptable alternative? How could anyone in OUSD think that? Wouldn’t OUSD rather find a way to keep all of those “hills” kids in OUSD middle schools rather than have them leave for private schools or other more functioning districts?

    Here we have several OUSD schools filled to the brim (and overflowing) with families who are choosing public education. Shouldn’t OUSD find some way to keep them after elementary school rather than allow them to slip away because the middle school options are perceived as unfeasible? Wouldn’t one of those ways be to allow those elementary schools to start a middle school? Or perhaps have all “hills” schools feed into a new middle school? Or a magnet middle school?

    Maybe the time is now right to propose such a thing. If my memory is correct, then in the next year or two Claremont Middle is out of options. It will have spent too many years as a PI school and will need to be either totally overhauled or turned into a charter or something equally radical. Other than that rather severe option, OUSD definitely has some underutilized space that could be used for a middle school or even for a magnet middle school(whether by sharing with another entity or by reopening a closed space). What is up with the Far West school site on Broadway? How about the site that Peralta used when it was forced out of its space by fire damage? I really don’t think that the answer has to be that Hillcrest give up its middle school because no one else is allowed to have one. Perhaps other schools should be allowed to have one, if they so choose.

    If OUSD could think a bit more long term and a bit out of the box, then I think that many other small middle schools could be started. The small school approach (whether by charter or explictly OUSD) seems to be OUSD’s desire anyway given the number of such small schools (or schools within a school) that it has been establishing recently).

    Finally, Hills Parent, I wholeheartedly believe that you are right. Overcrowding is not the only issue or even the biggest issue facing the school district. While I wholeheartedly support public schools, I am no Pollyanna. The overcrowding issue is simply a symptom or perhaps more accurately, the latest manifestation of, OUSD’s dysfunction. They should have seen this issue long ago and acted upon it, given that at least 4 elementary schools are now almost certain to face this problem.

  • Another Hills Parent

    Re: extra two classrooms at Hillcrest. This is how I see it. The Hillcrest boundary needs to be changed so that it enrolls just 40 kindergartners. You mention that there is one classroom for each grade level at the 4th and 5th grades. Well, those two extra classrooms can be used for 4th and 5th grades so that each of these grades has two classrooms. Another benefit: this will allow new neighborhood families to enroll their children at the school. Right now they are denied entrance because two 3rd grade classrooms feed into one 4th grade classroom – a truly bizarre situation, if you ask me. So, win-win situation. No more split-level classes and new families can access the school.

    Re: K-8 as good model. The K-8 model is awesome, eveyone knows this. But I’ve interacted with enough Hillcrest parents to know that they always fall back on “we have the highest middle school scores in the district, our middle school is working, why would the district shut down what is working”. I also know that many of these same parents would run, not walk to a state of the art middle school that had the same test scores, resources and demographics as, say, Piedmont Middle school. So is it the K-8 experience they are after or is it “I’m not enrolling my kid at Claremont or Montera”?

    Re: K-8 at other Hills schools. I figure it’s an impossibility by simply looking at the sites and their lack of space. Take Montclair with its 60 entering Kindergartners. Adding three more grades to the school (6-8) means adding finding space for as many as 180 more kids. 180 more kids! Where will they fit them at that site? More portables? I don’t believe there is the political will at the district to start a construction project at Montclair (or Thorhill, or Chabot) to expand enrollment when there is a perfectly good building less than three miles away (Claremont). I do not know if any Hills schools have tried to get their schools converted to K-8 but I’m fairly certain they will be rebuffed for these logical reasons. The same goes for building a middle school (even a small one) in the Hills – the district has no business incurring such a huge expense, especially when that expense screams, “Yes, Hills Parents, we understand why you don’t want to send your precious children to THOSE schools so here you go, a brand new school for you.”

    So, I agree, there are no easily solutions. I don’t think the Board will get rid of the Hillcrest middle school. The easiest thing to do will be to follow district staff recommendations to limit the Hillcrest 6th grade enrollment to 20 students beginning in 2009.

  • JC

    I think increasing the 2-3 class sizes to 30 is a non-starter; the whole point of class-size reduction is to have smaller classes in K-3. If this happens, I forsee many families moving out of the district.

    Have the Hills families notice that there are other good elementary/middle schools nearby – Glenview and Edna Brewer are excellent alternatives.

  • Public school fan

    Another Hills Parent:

    Your points are well taken. The political will to build a new middle school doesn’t exist at the district level. While several of the elementary schools at issue would seem to have plenty of physical space to build (I’m thinking of the huge concrete yard at Montclair and the enormous area behind Chabot), it would take a groundswell of parent support to push it far enough to even get a review board going. Parents could push OUSD, but it would require almost unceasing effort.

    I still think it would be worth OUSD’s while to think about ways to retain all of those “hills” kids who end up pulling out of OUSD after 5th grade because their families find that the middle schools are not an option. There are certainly a very large number of them. It is not only Hillcrest parents that don’t want their kids to attend another OUSD middle school. (As an aside, I’d love to see the attrition rate between the kids that graduate from OUSD 5th grade and those that actually remain in OUSD for 6th grade. I bet the number is surprisingly high.) That’s why I wonder why an underutilized campus couldn’t also contain a magnet school. Even better, make it a city-wide academic-based magnet school. Some “hills” kids would get in and some wouldn’t. Same goes for the rest of the city. Seems like that would be a better use of an underutilized campus or a shuttered one than simply waving good-bye to kids as their families either move out of the district or choose private or charter schools.

    If indeed Claremont Middle is a PI school that legally will be required to get a radical overhaul if it doesn’t improve sufficiently this year due to its years in PI status (again, I could be wrong about that), maybe OUSD should think about a different way to utilize that school in a way that serves the neighborhood and perhaps even the rest of the city.