Staff proposals for addressing overcrowding at Hillcrest and other popular elementary schools have been swinging back and forth in recent months, as if there were some sort of behind-the-scenes tug of war on Second Avenue — which, of course, is entirely possible.
If the latest set of staff recommendations to the Special Committee on School Admissions, Attendance & Boundaries holds its position, Hillcrest will keep its middle school — and its attendance boundaries — intact. And Montclair, which has a crowding problem of its own, would eventually expand.
Hillcrest-area kids who are rejected from their local kindergarten for space reasons would have the option of attending Kaiser Elementary School under this proposal.
Kaiser, a high-performing, arts-focused school on the other side of Hwy 13, draws kids from all over the city. Such a change in admissions policy, of course, would leave fewer spots for children who live outside the Kaiser and Hillcrest attendance areas — a shift that raises equity questions.
Kerry Hamill, the retiring board representative for District 1, wanted the district to shrink Hillcrest’s attendance area. She didn’t sound too pleased with this morning’s proposal (or the last one, for that matter), and said it leaves Hillcrest families without “a home school.”
“We’re just punting the problem here. We’re not really solving it,” she said.
But the three-member special committee decided to move the recommendations forward anyway so that a decision will be made in time for 2009 admissions. The board is scheduled to discuss the proposal Dec. 10 and to vote on it Dec. 17.
In a nutshell, here are the recommendations:
- Make Claremont Middle School a “school of choice” (i.e. make it better)
- Expand Montclair’s capacity by up to 100 students
- Look at the possibility of expanding Hillcrest
- Amend admissions rules to allow displaced Hillcrest-area children to enroll at Kaiser until room becomes available at Hillcrest
What do you think about this latest solution? Do you agree with Hamill that it’s simply punting the problem?
image from toffehoff’s site at flickr.com/creativecommons