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Should student enrollment at Pleasanton’s high school campuses continue to increase indefinitely?

Original post made by Julie Testa, Foothill High School, on Jan 2, 2008

SCHOOL BOARD MEETING
Monday, January 7, 2008
5:00 p.m.
District Office, Board Room
4665 Bernal Avenue

Should student enrollment at Pleasanton's high school campuses continue to increase indefinitely?

Amador student enrollment is 2587, by California Department of Education standards this exceeds a "Very Large High School". Amador is 153% of capacity on 39 acres of land.
Foothill student enrollment is 2343, also defined as a "Very Large High School" at 125% of capacity on 43 acres.

The California Department of Education (CDE) does not support large high schools. Research locally and nationally is overwhelmingly in favor of moving away from the larger schools. It clearly shows the social, developmental, academic, and financial value in doing so. The CDE has made new pots of money available to implement small schools. The Pleasanton school district believes our community is supportive of the very large schools and believes our high schools can increase to 2700 students. They have therefore been ignoring the grant money offered by the state and not pursuing options. PUSD's current plan is to identify more students to go to Village HS to take some of the burden off the large campuses.
We may have an opportunity to create a small career tech school, Energy and Utilities or Engineering and Design Industry are two possibilities. Reducing enrollments by 500 students per campus would not limit the ability to offer the breadth of programs now offered. We have not reached peak enrollment and we can show there is no bubble to give relief anytime soon.

This topic will be discussed at the School Board meeting, Monday Jan. 7th 5:00.
We have a great community with great families and kids; our schools are very good but we could be better.
Let your School Board know if you are concerned about High School enrollments.

Board President Jim Ott jott@unclecu.org; Clerk Chris Grant ChrisMGrant@gmail.com;
Steve Brozosky steve@brozosky.com; Kris Weaver kgweav@comcast.net; Pat Kernan patkernan@comcast.net

Decade of opportunities squandered
Web Link

"we are reminded that this board didn't want maximum capacity at the high schools," Weaver said.
Web Link

Career Technical Education
Web Link

An overview of the State School Facility Programs
Web Link

Comments (41)

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Posted by Marie
a resident of Castlewood
on Jan 4, 2008 at 1:20 pm

To solve the overcrowding issue why not just have all non Pleasanton residents leave our schools. We have many students that should not be in our schools.


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Posted by Julie
a resident of Foothill High School
on Jan 4, 2008 at 1:57 pm

The number of students that are nonresidents would not be enough to resolve the problem. Most of the nonresident students are teacher's children that are allowed to attend PUSD. The district has been searching out any other nonresident students and issuing 10 day notices to vacate. Rather harsh and unfortunate that we are in a position that requires this.
Please email board members if you are concerned.

Board President Jim Ott jott@unclecu.org; Clerk Chris Grant ChrisMGrant@gmail.com;
Steve Brozosky steve@brozosky.com; Kris Weaver kgweav@comcast.net; Pat Kernan patkernan@comcast.net


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Posted by marie
a resident of Castlewood
on Jan 4, 2008 at 2:17 pm

Yes, you are right it is not enough to make a big difference. If you talk with teachers you would be amazed by the number of kids living in other cities. Why Should our children be impacted by this. I have paid the price for my house and for these schools so why should someone from Fremont or Livermore get access to our schools.


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Posted by John
a resident of Foothill High School
on Jan 4, 2008 at 7:51 pm

I have been pleased by the opportunities that my children have been offered during their high school years - three graduates from Foothill who have done well in college. This issue seems to continue to be raised by the same people, over and over. I am more concerned about quality than school size and feel fortunate to have the high schools that we have.


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Posted by frank
a resident of Pleasanton Heights
on Jan 4, 2008 at 10:23 pm

The size of a high school affects its students in a limited number of aspects. A principal one which has indirect effect is the distance to travel from home for students. As a community expands geographically, simply increasing the size of a school may adversely affect the incremental student population if these added students live outside a normal geographic radius. The travel distance can be burdensome. This, however, does not seem to the case in Pleasanton, where the two present high school locations seem to satisfy the distance issue.

The other aspect appears to be the number of sports teams, bands, and other such groups per student capita that exist in each school. It does not seem that this is the issue being raised. If there are two high school football teams serving 5000 students in Pleasanton now, it may not matter to anyone too much if there are two football teams serving 6000 students next year.

What matters is that each school expands its classroom infrastructure, its teaching staff, and its class offerings to accommodate additional student population. If the campus has the land space to do this, then it is usually best to expand each campus rather than to build a completely new campus. It is easy to argue that the result will be higher quality with more money available to put into education rather than overhead to support many small campuses. Are the UC campuses like Berkeley inferior because they accommodate upwards of 30,000 students each?

In the above posts the word "overcrowding" is used, but nothing is offered to show evidence that this is the case except to allude to some California standard without explaining what it refers to and without explaining how and why Amador and Foothill are overcrowded. No real metrics and their explanation are offered by any poster.

The title of this thread refers to high school population increasing indefinitely. This title is ridiculous! Since the population of Pleasanton cannot increase indefinitely and is actually nearing its limits, how can the high school population increase indefinitely???!!! Indefinitely means INDEFINITELY, like infinity!!

I think the thread's title may be a poor choice but simply put there to serve as a catchy headline to elicit discussion about someone's pet issue regarding high school programs. I certainly would not choose to build another campus simply to add programs that can be added to existing campuses.

Sorry to step on anyone's toes, but your hurt toes are certainly deserved in this case. DEFINITELY.


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Posted by Suzie
a resident of Foothill High School
on Jan 5, 2008 at 1:23 am

Julie,

Please change the title of your post to something Frank approves. Also please explain what you mean by "indefinitely". Oh, never mind..... Most of us understand.....


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Posted by Claudette McDermott
a resident of Del Prado
on Jan 5, 2008 at 10:38 am

I'm in favor of smaller schools as long as the support that the larger schools are getting also are available to the smaller schools. It's a fact that when a school gets so large the students feel like they are lost in the shuffle. Teachers have a harder time keeping track of what students are doing in a very full classroom. My son was a victum to bullies a number of times in a classroom where teachers were not aware what was going on in their classroom and just outside their doors. Teachers don't have time to correct papers in a full school / classroom and resort to other students making decesions and grading their fellow students work. As a parent, I want class sizes and campuses smaller so the control of students, and student self esteem benifits the community it serves. I want teachers to feel they have enough time to teach students and give one on one time where needed, not just when a students asks for help but when they know a student needs help and would benifet from their expertise. I want teachers going back to grading and making decisions about their students work not relying on students to pick up the slack. Don't let students feel like they are invisible or lost in the shuffel because of the big school convenience stance.


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Posted by Julie
a resident of Foothill High School
on Jan 5, 2008 at 11:40 am

John I am glad your children have been successful. I agree we have very good schools. I have also had two sons graduate as proud Amador Dons. One just received his degree and the other is also successful in college. My third son is a proud Foothill Falcon he is doing very well. Unfortunately not all students thrive in the large campus environment.

Claudette thank you for sharing, I support your concerns.

Frank thank you for your concern about my toes, I welcome the opportunity to respond.

Your criticism is valid without the background of information that I have in the past and will again attempt to share at Monday night's meeting. You are mistaking about my agenda, it is no more than my ten year effort to look for options that will benefit our kids. You can read past articles to understand some of the history of my concern. Having read your post in the past I have seen you are a thoughtful person so please understand how sincere my concern is for this issue. I respect your opinions.

Most of the issues you have raised I have addressed over the years.
Opportunity to participate in extracurricular activities is an ongoing concern.

Please read: Web Link.

Overcrowding is not my opinion or an inflammatory term, it is the term used by the California Department of education. I have used their formula to try to inform our community of the facts. I want to show that it is not the State that is forcing our "overcrowding" but a local decision.

Please visit the State of Ca. guide for schools, Web Link

Our HS sites are too small for the student population and our campuses are land locked. There is no space to add the career tech programs. That is the point, there is no space for new sports teams or at times for practices for the teams we currently have.

I felt a renewed need to share with the community when the district began to campaign for a new parcel tax. They identified the two top concerns of the community are class size reduction and a lack of career tech programs. They were not however telling the community that their own report showed that class size reduction is now impossible at the HS level because there is no space!
They were also not telling the community that they were not applying for millions of dollars in state grant dollars offered for career tech programs that you and I are already paying for with our tax dollars.
I am glad they will now be applying for some of those dollars and rethinking the parcel tax.

Career Technical Education, Web Link

I stand by my use of the term indefinitely, we are not at peak. Please read about how our district has been selling the high school sites that our city leaders and planners have set aside.

Decade of opportunities squandered, Web Link

If you are aware of the lawsuit that threatens our housing cap and the prohousing movement that is talking about adding up to 20,000 more housing units to our town, (I do not support this, but it is true.) you would understand the use of "indefinitely".

We have missed our opportunity for a third comprehensive HS. We may have an opportunity to create a career tech school that would serve the student population that we have now as well as the hundreds more we are sure to have. The career tech program would offer both college and non-college opportunities. It would be an exciting asset to our community.
I respect everyones input.
Julie





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Posted by Bob
a resident of Amador Valley High School
on Jan 5, 2008 at 12:19 pm

WOW! A few years ago Amador was under 2000 students and now it is almost 2600? It's no wonder there are such traffic problems around the schools! Friends say they must leave 45-60 minutes before school starts to get their kids to Foothill because of the gridlock on the west side. Amador isn't quite so bad because of more access roads. Still, the school closed the back walk through gate that now makes it more difficult for pedestrian students! Go figure. The gate was fine when there were fewer than 2000 students.

So while the travel distance might not be burdensome as Frank says, I think the traffic issues for the schools AND the city are. And as a parent, I am tired of getting those traffic survey letters each year asking if I would be willing to direct traffic or serve on a committee looking for solutions. Fewer kids on each campus would be a solution.

I also have an older kid who went through Amador, but with almost 1/3 more students it is a different place now than even a few years ago. Hasn't anyone noticed the portables that are nearly on the sports fields?? Maybe we can put bleachers on top of them to increase seating for games!


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Posted by Bill
a resident of Amador Valley High School
on Jan 5, 2008 at 12:49 pm


Have to agree about the change regarding the Gatetree entrance - just doesn't make sense. Why would the school change the fencing and make it more difficult for students to walk to school as the school enrollment has increased? Enrollment is, in my opinion, fine as it is. Don't need a defensive reply or hear state data. Local data shows that students are performing well in current environment.


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Posted by Chris
a resident of Amador Valley High School
on Jan 5, 2008 at 1:02 pm

The "prohousing movement" and 20,000 new units? I know of a small active faction that is in favor of adding affordable housing (which we need), but to call this a pro-housing movement and suggest that 20,000 new units will be built is passing on wild conjecture from just a few biased individuals.


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Posted by Julie
a resident of Foothill High School
on Jan 5, 2008 at 2:38 pm

Yikes, I regret saying that because I do not want this to be a discussion about housing. I have heard this from multiple, very credible, sources. I don't mean to suggest that many people believe it will happen. I don't believe it will, but it is a real discussion that is happening. The fact that our city has to defend our housing cap in court does seem like a prohousing movement to me.
I want to address the student population we have now and the new students that we know we will have. I would like to do so by looking at the Career Tech programs that I believe are a timely and exciting opportunity.


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Posted by rick
a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Jan 5, 2008 at 9:02 pm

It is obvious that Pleasanton needs a new High School.
The belief that recent increases in enrollment are temporary make no sense.
PSD, given its outstanding reputation, will continue to attract young, affluent
families from all over the bay area. If one takes a regional perspective, instead of focusing on the coming "build out", high school enrollments are going to increase. This what has happened in recent years despite the school board's projections of
flat to declining enrollment. In an apparent admission of this, one board member
recently suggested the possibility of year round schooling.








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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Jan 6, 2008 at 10:15 am

Help me understand something. If the student population is going to be expanding "indefinitely" then why build a smaller vocational school instead of a full-fledged high school? Seems like a waste of money to me.

I'm just reminded of the elementary school that never materialized near Ruby Hills on Vineyard and cost the district X amount of $$$ for the land and cost the City X amount of $$$ in constructing then removing the traffic circles. The students hitting the high schools now are probably the same ones for which that Ruby Hill elementary was planned for. What's the current population in the elementary schools? Considering that a new school takes years to plan and build around here, those will probably be the target students who would benefit from a third high school.

I think we need to keep in mind that while we got a lot of new families that moved into new developments, those developments age as well as the population. Then it takes quite a number of years before new families move into those old areas. So the perceived growth in student populations is actually constantly in flux. If the 20,000 new housing units does materialize, I would hope the City attaches developer fees to them that go to fund a new school.


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Posted by Julie
a resident of Foothill High School
on Jan 6, 2008 at 5:41 pm

Stacey as always you have good questions.
Ideally PUSD would have planned for the growth and used the developer fees (three times the state mandated amount), and local bond money (151 mil), together with the states 50% match dollars, and built the HS five years ago. We would now have three comprehensive HS's with between 1500 to 1800 students each (still large HS's), plus Village HS.
Now our local resources have been used and the cost of a comprehensive HS has escalated. We know our campuses are impacted and we still have hundreds of students to come with the housing cap we now have.
Using the findings of the districts Excellence Committee (I was not a part of it) we see we have a need for career tech programs but we know we don't have space at our already impacted campuses.
Looking at the grant dollars available from the state we may have an opportunity to create a small school. If the district had not recently sold our option on the land on Bush we could have paid for our share with the money that we have from selling our last HS site, the state would have paid for half the land. We could have started with a small HS that could expand as needed. By placing the small HS near one of our comprehensive HS's we can arrange for students to take any classes not offered at the Tech school at the comprehensive HS.
Our middle and elementary schools are also impacted. Pleasanton has proven the empty nest forecasts wrong as our older housing quickly repopulates with young families. We are not likely to experience a bubble but instead we will eventually level off.
We have passed up many opportunities but we can create new ones. I believe the waste is not exploring the resources and opportunities available because status quo is easier.


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Posted by D. Martinez
a resident of Del Prado
on Jan 6, 2008 at 6:00 pm

What a shame that this important problem of school overcrowding has yet to be resolved. When we moved to Pleasanton over 12 years ago (primarily because of the town's reputation for excellent schools) we found out within less than a month that our oldest child's neighborhood elementary school was full and she would have to be "overflowed" to another school some distance away; fortunately, a spot for her became available just the day before school began. My husband and I became involved in efforts to convince the school board that school overcrowding needed to be addressed and, specifically, a third high school needed to be planned for and built. These pleas fell on deaf ears.

Since then, our two older children have both graduated from Foothill High School, but their experience there was less than optimal, in large part due to the ridiculously large population where many kids fall between the cracks. We lost confidence in our school district and decided to enroll our third child in a private high school, where he is THRIVING!

Although it is too late for our own children, we hope the school board will apply for state grants so that this overcrowding problem can be alleviated, to the benefit of many of our town's "overlooked" kids.


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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Jan 6, 2008 at 9:18 pm

Julie,

Thanks for responding. I'm still not understanding why we would want to build a small specialized school over a comprehensive HS. You say that the empty nest forecasts have been wrong and so student population is still growing (and will "indefinitely"). The population currently at Amador and Foothill equals almost 5000 students which makes no room for any career tech programs there. So why are you trying to campaign for a vocational school that would not really relieve the overcrowding at the current comprehensive high schools?

Wouldn't it be better to campaign for the third HS? That way we'd have smaller high schools of about 1500 students each which could have room for these career tech programs at each site. Then there's the added bonus of more opportunities for all the extracurricular activities which wouldn't be available in a specialized vocational school.


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Posted by Julie
a resident of Foothill High School
on Jan 6, 2008 at 10:24 pm

Stacey,
Absolutely! I could not agree with you more. I along with many other parents campaigned for just that almost ten years ago. It was a very contentious community discussion as some people said we would never have the numbers to support three schools. We proved our case but the compromise was we would begin a new HS when our schools hit 2000 to first prove the need.
To explain what has taken place between then and now would not be productive at this point. I will just repeat that our local resources have been used and the cost to build a comprehensive HS has escalated. We could have built the comprehensive HS then; I do not believe it is possible any longer. I do believe we still have other options. I am asking the board to seriously pursue them.


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Posted by Becky Dennis
a resident of Foxborough Estates
on Jan 7, 2008 at 1:27 am

When Julie speaks of a "pro-housing" movement to build 20,000 additional housing units in Pleasanton, I believe she is actually referring to a guest editorial I wrote in 2006 about Mayor Hosterman's interest in stopping global warming.

Web Link

I will say that if our community decided to rewrite the General Plan to reduce our disproportionately large contribution to global warming we would definitely need more schools, unless we determined to restrict commercial development as much as we have housing development.


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Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Birdland
on Jan 7, 2008 at 6:32 am

Why not stop development all together? Look for alternate methods to bringing in money to city tax bases. Building can't be the only answer.


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Posted by BCSFan
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 7, 2008 at 7:41 am

I agree with Anonymous ...

Since Pleasanton has such excellent schools, additional school funding can be raised by charging students tuition based on their parent's income.




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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Jan 7, 2008 at 8:09 am

Julie,

Anything is still possible. The small school idea still seems like a waste to me. You see the problem as a third comprehensive HS having a high upfront cost and use that as a reason for why to build a small school or two or several at a time instead. But I see it as in the long-run it may cost more to operate all those small schools instead of three large ones.


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Posted by Julie
a resident of Foothill High School
on Jan 7, 2008 at 10:22 am

What I am advocating for is not related to additional housing, I do not support overturning our housing cap.
Becky I was not referring to that article but it is interesting to read again.
This district has been unable to plan for the future and has now limited our options.
We could have built a comprehensive HS for 51 Million 8 years ago. It would now cost more than 100 million and our resources have been used.
I am advocating for a career tech school that has tremendous value to the students that are currently in our schools. I am advocating that it coordinate with our current HS's so all students can access all programs. I am advocating that we create it in a way that allows for expansion if resources come available to do so. The cost to operate it is paid for by the students ADA dollars that come from the state. This would be a great asset to our students.
For the students that are currently in our schools, and are yet to come, solutions are over due. To do nothing would be the waste.


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Posted by Beth
a resident of Walnut Grove Elementary School
on Jan 7, 2008 at 11:19 am

Julie,

Do you anticipate that a large enough percentage of Pleasanton high schoolers would take advantage of a "career tech" high school so as to offset the overcrowding?

With upwards of 95% of graduating seniors going on to college, I'm not sure a tech school is attractive to that many kids, thus doing nothing substantial to alleviate overcrowding.

And how would the kids get between the high schools if you're proposing a school that kids would go to while also attending their home high school?

Frankly, I'd rather see a gifted magnet high school, given that 20% of Pleasanton students test as gifted. But I know that will never happen.


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Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Pleasanton Heights
on Jan 7, 2008 at 12:21 pm

20% of Pleasanton students are 'gifted'? Where did you get that figure. The number is closer to 5% of the population, and that number is high compared to neighboring districts because our criteria is not a stringent as in San Ramon Valley.
The solution is simple: build a 3rd comprehensive high school! Do not create any more of an elitist society than already exists in this town!
Also, I'm concerned as to why the district has not publicized this 'issue' more. I have not received any notification as a parent, other than what I've read in the local paper.


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Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Amador Valley High School
on Jan 7, 2008 at 1:48 pm

Hey Bob -- Funny you should mention the portables on the sports fields. If you're referencing the shipping containers on Amador's fields, I can tell you that while they may not be used for additional seating, they are consistently leveraged as bathroom areas at many sport functions. I'm sure those that back up to the Amador football field love the smell of human urine that penetrates the air after a Friday Night Game.

And FYI -- this applies to those participating in Pony League on the weekends. Apparently walking to the outhouse expends far too much energy.


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Posted by Julie
a resident of Foothill High School
on Jan 7, 2008 at 2:02 pm

A Wheels bus route could be used between Comprehensive HS and Career
Annex school.
The Career Tech has both college and noncollege tracks.
A program of study that involves a multiyear sequence of courses that integrates core academic knowledge with technical and occupational knowledge to provide students with a pathway to postsecondary education and careers in the areas of marketing, finance, accounting, information technology, entrepreneurship, and economics.
Energy and Utilities, Engineering and Design, Architectural and Structural Engineering Pathways, and more
Web Link
I asked the District to notice parents…..


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Posted by Beth
a resident of Walnut Grove Elementary School
on Jan 7, 2008 at 3:24 pm

I don't want to derail the conversation to talk about GATE, but in reply to anonymous, the standards are the same across the Board: 98%.

I'd like to see stats for your 5% number. No way is the GATE margin that low. Pleasanton School officials have given me the 20% number - and that's not outragous - it's typically what happens in an affluent, well-educated community. It's not elitist - it's giving all kids a right to learn in an appropriate matter. Do your homework.


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Posted by Sondra
a resident of Amador Valley High School
on Jan 7, 2008 at 9:37 pm

I am writing to voice opposition to building another high school. I am a parent who initially supported a third school when it was first proposed. My child graduated in 2006 from Amador. Enrollment at the time was about 2500 students. She had a great time there and never felt at all pressured or overwhelmed by the enrollment. She had great teachers and loved her experience there.

She also experienced the attrition of teachers at PMS when Hart Middle School was built. She was separated from friends she had made and lost very good teachers who left to go there to work, leaving her with inexperienced subs.

I therefore have seen both sides but to build an interest school as Mrs. Testa suggests is something that I will not support. We have a third high school and it is called Village. Put more kids that need other than academic focus there, but this bandwagon has passed and does not need to be brought back.

Sincerely,

Sondra


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Posted by Shelley
a resident of Downtown
on Jan 7, 2008 at 10:28 pm

Something that has been overlooked in regards to "falling through the cracks" in big, overwhelming high schools is that maybe that is just a typical reaction teenagers have. Teenage angst and all those hormones flowing through their blood, as well as the developing of good decision-making skills, can all contribute to not having that dreamy, nostalgic high school experience. Big size or not, those numbers on the California Dept. of Edu. website are misleading. The RATIOS are important, like faculty to student ratios (the common ratio used by colleges as a basis of comparison to attract prospective students).

Also, I believe that educators and parents have fallen in love with the idea of "technology" as something that needs to be taught. Technology is a tool and can never replace knowledge. Yeah, you may learn how to use a spreadsheet or calculator, but do you know why you get the answer you get? Or how to do the calculations by hand? Yeah, you may learn how to write a computer program, but can you explain the logic and math behind programming? Emphasis in critical thinking skills are needed, not "technology."

I say go with the comprehensive high school! What's the point of investing a bunch of money in a "tech" school and a "tech" curriculum when all that "tech" stuff the 14-18 year old learned will be outdated by the time s/he graduates? How does that translate into lifelong learning skills?


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Posted by Julie
a resident of Foothill High School
on Jan 8, 2008 at 9:01 am

The answer is …YES! Pleasanton High Schools will continue to grow.

The board discussion was productive.
The outcome is there is no bubble and only the strong survive.

A Career Tech program was a priority when they were using it as justification to float a parcel tax in Pleasanton. But status quo is fine when they are shown there are state grant dollars available that as tax payers we are already paying for.
As a parent I think the outcome of the meeting is unfortunate but as a taxpayer I think it is great. PUSD needs to remember this and no longer look to the community for more money. They have made a decision to house as many students as possible at the existing sites to concentrate our students ADA and facilities dollars. This makes the maximum amount of dollars available for salary and they should not need to be coming to the community for program or facilities needs. Permanent overcrowding is the price our kids will pay for that concentration of dollars. My message to the district is use our kid's money well… now stop and asking for more.

A percentage of students will thrive at our very large overcrowded campuses, a large percentage will do well, and a percentage will be lost or worse damaged.
No school can guarantee all students will thrive but realistically we know that the true consequence of large schools is more students are at risk.
My students have thrived at Amador but my heart breaks for the ones that I see that do not. Sondra it is unfortunate that you do not hear the many parents that have shared their children's painful experiences and understand that one size does not fit all. I was moved by the testimony of the mom that had previously opposed another HS, sharing her message of regret because her child was damaged by the large environment she had supported.
The districts decision is that they will make more room at the continuation school for those students. I think that is an unfortunate choice for a parent to be given.


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Posted by Julie
a resident of Foothill High School
on Jan 8, 2008 at 9:57 am

Opps typo...
They have made a decision to house as many students as possible at the existing sites to concentrate our students ADA and facilities dollars. This makes the maximum amount of dollars available for salary,program and facilities needs. Permanent overcrowding is the price our kids will pay for that concentration of dollars.
My message to the district is use our kid's money well… now stop asking for more.


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Posted by paula
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 8, 2008 at 10:21 am

I attended the school board meeting last night. The board voted no to the $25 million price tag it was reported by Dr. Casey in his report it will cost to build a third high school. Also the Blue Ribbon Group made the recommendation that Village Continuation High School could be reinvented to become an alternative high school if necessary. Interesting recommendation, since in this same meeting, Dr. Casey confirmed that the district could house up to 2700 students before he would return to the board for dual scheduling, and with that increase it would be more for the overwhelming traffic problems and lunch time concerns. Housing the students into the classrooms would not be a problem. 35 kids to 1 teacher is not a concern. WOW.
What about the mental and emotional well- being of the students that is already 152% over capacity now! I guess another 500 kids or so on campus would'nt make a difference.
Where this mentality fits into the "Relationship" of working better to help ease large school scenario.
How out of touch is the school district staff?
Why is ok to have student housed like cattle on I-5 near Harris Ranch now and in the future?
I understand that the district has added more counselors and VP. Short term fixes are to be appaulded however that doesn't even begin to address the ongoing crisis of too many students on the campuses of our high schools. I never did hear from the school board about THEIR concerns over the 152% over capacity issue. They were charming about their excitement on the ideas of tech, and engineering driven programs and showed compassion for those who spoke. I will give this board a B+. The district staff however receives a D for overall lack of concern for the large school population. The reason it's not an F is because the as usual the board packet was well presented.

I walked away feeling that the district believes that it is ACCEPTABLE to have" lost" children when the school population is so high and will continue to stay this way for many years to come. The least the district can do is offer freshman a class called, Surviving Pleasanton High Schools 101.

Paula












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Posted by Linda
a resident of Amador Valley High School
on Jan 8, 2008 at 1:32 pm

I think that parents who would like a small high school population should take advantage of the many private schools in the area.


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Posted by Debbie
a resident of Amador Valley High School
on Jan 8, 2008 at 4:02 pm

Since 2000 Amador Valley High School has had Career and Technical Education Academies in place. Currently there are academies available for 10-12 grade students in Business & Finance, Science Engineering and Computer Technology, Health & BioScience and Public & Human Services. Students choose the academy they would like to participate in. Academy students work in small learning communities having common English and Social Studies classes with the option to take the academy elective which is a Career and Technical Education class.

Each high school has a Career and Technical Education Department which consists of Business courses, Consumer & Family Studies courses and Industrial Technology courses. Several of these courses receive Las Positas College credit and are UC a-g approved.

Much of this discussion sounds as if there is not a Career and Technical Education program in place in our district. The reality of it is that there is a program and students do have the opportunity to take Career and Technical Education classes but they choose to add another AP class to their schedule because they are not thinking about a career yet they are thinking about how to compete for college admissions.


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Posted by frank
a resident of Pleasanton Heights
on Jan 8, 2008 at 4:55 pm

As each of us read these posts usually some phrase or two hits a response ("hot") button in us and motivates us to write. So, here's mine, which is focussed on an implicit assumption being promoted.

That is, the claim or assumption is that a large high school "damages" children or causes children to be "lost". My suggestion is that parents should look beyond always blaming some aspect of the school for the reason their children may not do well, for example, size of school, teachers, etc.

It is obvious that the evidence shows the majority of students in Amador and Foothill do well. If your child is not doing well, look at all of the things that may contribute to this. The school can be one reason, but is not the sole possibility of all things considered.

Is it not true that our schools have programs and resources to help those who struggle, but as parents we need to use those resources?

It is my opinion that it is not the responsibility of taxpayers to provide a menu of school sizes to pick from for a minority who claim their children will then not be "lost". People have choices, such as private school as one poster suggested.


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Posted by Ann
a resident of Amador Valley High School
on Jan 9, 2008 at 12:21 pm

Having children that have been both a GATE super achiever and a child that has struggled greatly (same gene pool same environment). I have learned I can't take full credit for their successes nor do I feel blame for their challenges. I do take full responsibility and will always be their advocate. Children come as unique people with their own personalities and abilities. They are a work in progress their successes or challenges today do not guarantee who they will be as an adult. Being a parent is a challenging job and a huge responsibility that I have enjoyed for good and bad. The "takes a village" sounds cliché but is true. That is why families move to Pleasanton to raise our children in a family supportive community. Our schools have a large responsibility in the effort.
To all parents that love their children and make every effort on their behalf each day you have my respect. To anyone who condemns a child for a mistake, judges a loving parent for their imperfection, or perpetuates the attitude of survival of the fittest among our kids shame on you.


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Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 9, 2008 at 1:08 pm

Ann...

You are so correct!! People who judge parents by the success or failure of the parent's children are ignorant!!!


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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Jan 9, 2008 at 1:23 pm

Who is blaming/judging the parents or condemning children? I don't read anything in this thread like that. *scratches head*


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Posted by Julie
a resident of Foothill High School
on Jan 9, 2008 at 10:13 pm

Debbie,

I am familiar with the academies. My kids participated, they give a student an opportunity to become familiar with those career paths. They are not the same as the career tech programs. They do not prepare a student to enter that career.
The board did however point to them as a reason to not pursue a career tech program. I wonder if the academies fill the need for a career tech program then why was a career tech program identified as a priority of the excellence committee? Why was the district using it as a priority to justify the parcel tax if we don't really need it.

Stacey,

Energy and Utilities, Engineering and Design, Architectural and Structural Engineering these are fields that have a crisis shortage of trained professionals. How will training in these fields be outdated soon?
I will always believe we should have built a third comprehensive HS when it was possible. If anyone else can figure out a way to make it happen now, and then get board support, I will bow to you.


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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Jan 9, 2008 at 11:21 pm

Julie,

I think you meant to respond to someone else.


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