Fremont school officials warn of worse overcrowding if Patterson Ranch housing is built

This story ran yesterday (Sunday) in The Argus and our sister papers. James Morris, superintendent of Fremont’s schools, said he has not had substantive talks with city officials about the district’s overcrowding problem in nearly three years. Here’s an excerpt from the article:

… Student enrollment in the district’s 41 schools is 33,000, and steadily rising. Last year alone, Fremont Unified increased by 600 students, district officials said. That was a sharp spike from the past half decade, when enrollment grew 300 students each year. Rising enrollment can be “a good problem,” Morris said, but it also poses severe challenges to north Fremont parents.

The overcrowding, along with the impending Patterson Ranch development, prompted the school board to take the “unprecedented action of saying we’re not going to assign (Patterson Ranch) to a school,” Morris said. “We’re going to place those students wherever there is space in the city.”

For more, click here.

Chris DeBenedetti


  1. I recall there being about 50,000 housing units in Fremont and 28 public elementary schools in FUSD. That’s 1 elementary for every 1800 units.

    This development will have 500 units. 500/1800 = 28% of one elementary school’s loading.

    The developer is paying 6M of a the 22M cost to build a new school. 6/22 = 27% of the cost.

    What exactly is the problem?

  2. There is no problem . . . you’re absolutely correct, Marty.

    Of course, you can’t build 28% of a school (at least not economically).

    And the available capacity in FUSD isn’t going to find itself right next door to the newly planned development.

    Oh, and existing students aren’t likely to want to relinquish their current choice of schools for the convenience of incoming students.

    So – you do exactly what FUSD did. Send ’em where you have the room.

    No problem.

  3. #2

    Beautifully written Box.

    There in lies the catch for the developer – he wants that ever-lovin API associated with area schools.

    Without it, prices tend to drop: like a hot rock = sad developer.

  4. Why should the developer be responsible for anything? Fremont admittedly has an overflow issue. This developer is funding it’s portion of classrooms and facilities. The residents presumably will be paying their portion of costs to run the school in property and sales taxes, as
    much as any other resident group at least.

    Fremont wants to collect from their residents while providing the bare minimum of service. That is what is at issue here.

    You want these children to suffer just to satisfy a policy grudge? Nice, Dan.

  5. Good thread of comments. There are actually more than 70,000 dwelling units in Fremont, not 50,000, Marty, making your ratio even lower.

    What is unsaid in all this is state law. Cities have, for years, been forbidden to deny a development application because of school impacts, unless the school district declared an impact. An impact has always been defined as a lack of classrooms in the district, not in the neighborhood. FUSD has never been able to declare such an impact because there are classrooms in the district.

    Then Prop 1A codified the issue forbidding cities from denying development and mandating the fee, in exchange for a reduced requirement for bond elections (55% vice 2/3.) FUSD supported that measure.

    When the Weibel vineyard was developed, FUSD took action so those kids would not go to Weibel School because of classroom space deficiency. Then, last year Robson Homes got approval right across the street from Leitch School in Warm Springs and the kids were sent to Weibel. The issue is really one of “new” development. When new homes ar built, everyone moves in at the same time and most have kids. They move through the grades, graduate and move on. The parents don’t all move out at once and there are fewer kids then from the development and we reach some stable number. Just look around any neighborhood. My block had 20-30 kids when we moved in (a really long time ago), and today there are probably fewer than 10. Our neighborhood school is now a church. The problem is not classrooms, it is where the classrooms are.

    FUSD has sold off many schools over the years, Noll, Marshall, Rix, Hacienda, Alviso, Linda Vista, ROP, the old district HQ in Irvington, the proposed HS site in Warm Springs, and probably others I can’t recall right now. And the school population has always been in the low 30,000s.

    School planning seems not to be a science, but rather an art, and an arcane one at that. I liked it better when I could impose a requirement on the developer, but, alas, that option was taken from us.

  6. #5 Thanks Gus

    #4 Stop it – my point is I don’t want them to suffer…

    Scenario 1: Do it your way and let the new Ardenwood-development kids go to already over-packed Ardenwood schools. Increasing child per teacher ratio; dropping the overall quality of their education and potentially the API. Drops in API = drops in selling prices.

    Scenario 2: Staus Quo… As Gus states:
    “An impact has always been defined as a lack of classrooms in the district, not in the neighborhood. FUSD has never been able to declare such an impact because there are classrooms in the district.”

    If the “School District” is not overcrowded, the impact is not recognized. Therefore, these Ardenwood-development children MIGHT be bused. …and I am sure that is going to be a fantastic selling point for these new Ardenwood homeowners.

    You choose Marty.

  7. Dan, a third scenario is what we are discussing.

    I remember Gus’s stating the life cycle of a development, empty nesters, etc. . It is a problem without a solution. Schools need to be built somewhere. My feeling is that new homes are so high density and in the end such poor places to live that the cycle will turn faster than track suburbia.

    I just find it funny. The clearest signal that a
    Society values itself is to build schools. We hail it when it’s done in countries that are economically or politically impoverished. Try to do it in America and the seven stages of jealousy and resentment take over. People can even think.

  8. Come on – – –

    What is the purpose of this kind of nonsensical hyperbole?

    How does this have ANY relevancy to the above conversation other than to be a provocative arguing point in favor of the developers position ? –

    “The clearest signal that a Society values itself is to build schools. We hail it when it’s done in countries that are economically or politically impoverished. Try to do it in America and the seven stages of jealousy and resentment take over. People can even think.”

    Trying to establish a similarity between the Fremont problem of WHERE an abundant resource exists within our community and a total LACK OF RESOURCE in impoverished countries is thinking that only works for the near-brain-dead.

    #8 – we agree.

  9. Box, you’re like clockwork. I am honestly just sharing my thoughts, trying to contribute. You had a full 24 hours since Chris posted this to get a dialogue going on this topic. You wait until I comment then literally MINUTES after you run your little script. And predictably the conclusion is I am a shill for some imaginary entity of establishment and power. Why is there such a strong desire to turn every disagreement into something personal? This is a vendetta, old man. You have smarter ammo than these stupid little cannon balls you lob at predicable moments.

  10. Get some backbone, Marty.

    Instead of crying “woe is me” or “I’m being persecuted” – how about just responding to the points?

    If I’m wrong – tell me where I’m wrong. But stick to the points – avoid the ad hominem – if you can.

    In this instance – what you call “sharing your thoughts” is a clear and lame attempt to place school planners and admin into a defensive light.

    The facts thus far (which you’ve chosen to not respond to) are that the developer has opted to place homes in a geography remotely located from schools capable of servicing the student body residing therein.

    The problem is NOT a need for additional schooling capacity which was the crux of your comparison to “impoverished countries”.

  11. You have no capacity to discuss an issue with someone you disagree with. I am serious when I suggest that you should consider one of the following – a mental issue, anger management or alcoholism. I cannot imagine any other reason you have so much trouble with basic exchanges.

  12. It’s been a good set of debates lately, on this issue and several others. Thanks to all for raising the bar lately.

    I’m not going to delete the last few posts but it’s clear they are getting pretty personal from both sides. Let’s avoid that, please, moving forward. Thanks, all.

  13. C’mon people now – smile on your brother….

    I agree with Gus’s (and your) comments but do not see this as a third “scenario” for Ardenwood. As you said, #6 “…is a problem without a solution.” I too grew up in a neighborhood with 25+ kids. We all hopped a fence and walked to school a quarter of a mile away. We grew up; our parents stayed put; the school population decreased; and they replaced Parkway School with Parkway condominiums. (However, the neighborhood has come full circle and there are 20+ kids again that have to commute 15-20 minutes to Grammar School)

    The point is: this is business and the “buyers” shelling out the $700K + want schools with high APIs.
    We are all full of crap….You have a bunch of MAAM (middle-aged angry men) arguing this issue but we do not have ANYTHING to do with the purchasing of a house. Sure, we might write the checks but we don’t buy the house.
    Our wives buy the house.

    And here is the top criteria that I have witnessed:

    1. Quality of the Schools
    2. Location of the Schools
    3. If the house will increase in value (which is tied to the schools API)

    If those two scenarios (I mentioned above) play out – you are going to discourage a lot of folks from buying out there.

  14. This is why Gus says it’s an art figuring this all out. Some neighborhoods have high turnover and appear to always fill their schools with local students (niles for example). Some schools get landlocked by aging boomers. How may tools does the district have to address this besides forecasting closures and taking free money from developers to build new schools?

    From the parents perspective, be it a woman or man, whoever is handling the finances would have a hard time paying 700K for a house with no school. Shuttling as a solution is unacceptable in a city like Fremont.

    The impact from shuttling is this – most new communities become low income enclaves. Most exiting crap-ranch development near performing schools become unaffordable (…MV and Cupertino). I think many in this city are just fine with that. (and the developer boogie men take a small hit, which surely Dan will feel is apt punishment for daring to build on sacred land a mile for coyote hills).

    The thing is that Fremont will still have their influx of educated immigrants and peninsula/south bay castoffs with the same requirements for school quality. As homes with good schools become unobtainable they will look for cheap housing and private education.

    I was almost there myself. Most working parents are paying 12-15K a year for pre-K. There is little stopping us from keeping that going through 5th grade.

    Fremont has a reputation in the bay area for being an extremely boring place to live with good schools and parks. Keep passing up opportunities to improve (or at least maintain) part of that reputation and Fremont will become Newark in 20 years.

  15. #15
    Marty – great to snark with you again…
    “apt punishment for daring to build on sacred land a mile (from) coyote hills”

    The hills are important – the Willow Grove is VERY important. I will go back through my files but believe the wonderful developer was planning to put cement very close to the Grove.

    As long as they are going to talk putting ANY cement West of Ardenwood
    – they will have a fist fight.

    Regarding th balance of your comments – well said cupcake.

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