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Your school board, this week: School enrollment changes and next year’s budget

It seems the school board is trying to mend its loquacious ways; there are actual times posted next to certain agenda items for Wednesday’s regularly scheduled meeting. I’ll be there with my stopwatch. See full agenda here.

Come at 6 p.m. if you want to catch the performances of the Martin Luther King Jr. Oratorical Festival winners. Right afterward, while some of the feel-good sentiment still lingers in the air, the board is scheduled to discuss and vote on the new admissions priorities and middle school “megaboundaries” for elementary school kids who are redirected from their home schools.

The public comment session is scheduled for 7 p.m. (After just 30-40 minutes on the enrollment discussion? We’ll see…) At 7:30 p.m., a detailed presentation of the 2008-09 budget is supposed to begin.

Below are the responses I received today from the enrollment and admissions crew, based on questions some of you all have asked me about the proposed policy changes. I’m not sure how helpful the responses to 3a and 3b will be, but maybe you can glean more insight from them than I was able to.

1) “Katy – have you heard anything about Hillcrest’s middle school? Staff recommended that 6th grade enrollment at Hillcrest be limited to 20 students beginning in 2009. When will the Board take that up?”

Capacity at specific sites is a staff-based decision so this would not be going to Board. However, as a point of clarity, the class size configuration is always tentative based on the number of students who apply and who leave so it isn’t accurate that the 6th grade would be limited to 20 students beginning in 2009. Based on the reports completed by staff last fall, the current facilities at Hillcrest will not be able to house the enrollment based on current grade progressions at the elementary and middle school. Staff agreed that students would not be assigned in other grades when openings occurred, because the attrition is needed to address the overall K-8 enrollment for several years but even this provision does not fully solve the enrollment capacity problem. Staff agreed that we would wait for the Special Board Committee work to be completed before re-addressing the middle school at Hillcrest.

2) Were any Montclair and/or Chabot out-of-neighborhood siblings ultimately turned away for the fall of 2008? How many?

Of all applications submitted on time, no out-of-neighborhood siblings were turned away for Montclair and Chabot.

3a) Is this year’s redirection of Hillcrest families to Montclair and Chabot — paired with the proposed siblings-first policy — expected to lead to the redirection of neighborhood families (without siblings) in the fall of 2009 and beyond?

3b) To what extent is the siblings-first priority expected to cause neighborhood families to be re-directed to other schools? Are there particular schools where this is projected to happen?

The number of students who will be re-directed will depend on the number of neighborhood applicants and non neighborhood sibling applicants. From year to year, the impact on particular schools will vary depending on the number of neighborhood and non neighborhood sibling applicants for that particular year. *As a point of clarity, redirected students who were part of Hillcrest families were placed at Thornhill and Chabot, not Montclair and Chabot.

* Whoops. I had Montclair on the brain, I guess, since the school was originally pegged to have its boundaries widened to include part of the Hillcrest area.

Katy Murphy

Education reporter for the Oakland Tribune. Contact me at kmurphy@bayareanewsgroup.com.

  • Debora

    Congratulations to Joaquin Miller students Micah Bloom and Justin Ross. Both are very talented former second graders – now third graders for their outstanding performances in the Martin Luther King, Jr. Oratorical.

    To all of the other winners – congratualtions!