I was sure that the school board was going to make a final vote on the school closure issue last Wednesday. The school board, however, has managed to surprise me at every other meeting on the issue; I don’t know why I expected anything different this time.
They did vote to close a school. Which, I think, was a mistake: it looks like there’s enough money in the budget to keep a school open next year, and I think there are good reasons to do so. They did not, however, vote on which school to close. They had set their sights on Slater, my daughter’s school; last night, however, they decided to explore the idea of exploring another school, Castro (which I, not entirely coincidentally, used to live half a block away from). It’s a school with a huge proportion of English-language learners, in a neighborhood where families frequently move in and move out (as we did); unsurprisingly, the school dosen’t have as high test scores as others in Mountain View, and the board has been trying for years to figure out how best to help the students there. And it looks like some board members are ready to throw up their hands and send the Castro neighborhood kids to schools with more native English speakers.
So closing Castro is now a possibility, but no decision has been made. To their credit, the board is behaving well with regards to this new twist: they’re putting the final decision off for a month to give the Castro community time to respond, and they’re holding a couple of community meetings at Castro. So that’s all to the good. I’m mad at them for closing any school at all, though. And if they can hold community meetings at Castro, why can’t they hold community meetings at Slater as well? (The demographics of the neighborhoods aren’t all that different, after all.) I honestly don’t know which school would be less harmful to close: I’d prefer that they close Castro instead of Slater, but obviously I’m biased. And I don’t really know what’s going on with this plan: maybe it’s (intentionally or not) more of a ploy to act like they were listening to the issues that Slater parents raised, but handled in such a way as to guarantee a community outcry in support of Castro, causing them to end up closing Slater like they wanted. And, at this point, the last thing I’m going to do is try to predict what the board will do a month from now: I’m completely incapable of predicting what they’ll do a week from now, let alone a month from now.
There are some other twists and turns, the most bizarre of which is that the “close Castro” proposal was actually put forward by some parents in the Spanish/English Dual Immersion program, which is currently located at Castro! Which might sound like a good argument for closing Castro – if current families there want to close it, then why keep it open? – except that I don’t think that the families proposing the plan actually live in the Castro neighborhood, so they wouldn’t be losing their neighborhood school. (Though I don’t live in the Slater neighborhood, and I, like all other families I’ve heard of with kids attending Slater, certainly don’t want Slater to close.)
My apologies if this drama is a bit boring to those of you who don’t live around here. (As opposed to my other blog entries on other topics, which are of course fascinating to all!) You’ll have to bear with me for another month or so, I’m afraid…
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