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Community News

Community Meeting on San Anselmo School Closing Plan
January 21, 2003

Reported and written by Scott Scholz

I was able to attend the second hour of the meeting last night, so I missed any presentation the school district may have made at the beginning of the meeting. When I arrived, neighbors were taking turns at the podium asking the panel questions. It was a somber room and everyone asked great questions and the panel seemed to have a response for all questions or promised to get additional information to the community.

Question/Comment : What will happen to the San Anselmo site?

Response: The site may be leased out. We are not thinking of selling the property. Calero and Dickinson schools were schools previously closed and they are now leased out for childcare, church and private school interests.

Question/Comment : What is the district prepared to do when the kids come back into the school system?

Response: We don't expect new enrollment growth, but if there is a need those sites would be available.

Question/Comment: What is your timeline for parents requesting a different school than what they were administratively assigned to?

Response: We believe we will be able to accomodate all parent transfer requests for their students within three weeks.

Question/Comment: What dispute process will be in place if the transfer request is denied?

Response: There is the legal process called "Choice."

Question/Comment: What was the criteria for San Anselmo becoming a distinguished school? Didn't we spend money to become one? San Anselmo has the best SAT9 scores.

Response: To become a distinguished school, the school has to be invited to apply. There was a $30 application fee, but no additional money beyond that from the school or district was needed to become a distinguished school. Several other schools in the district are distinguished schools including Santa Teresa and Baldwin. The district didn't know at the time San Anselmo applied to become a distinguished school that the school could be closed. Being a distinguished school and SAT9 scores were not used as a criteria for possible school closure. It was believed that those qualities are a reflection of the students and those abilities would transfer whereever the students were placed in the school district.

Question/Comment: I have been told that Baldwin childcare facility is at capacity. They won't return the three calls I have made. Did you take that into consideration?

Response: We are aware of the childcare situation and will try to accomodate that need. I can't make any guarantees at this time as the childcare is a private business and we can't dictate to them. I will make sure you are contacted.

Question/Comment: Who on the panel decided to build Rita Ledesma?

Response: It was built to serve the Basking Ridge community and will also serve the new community being built south of Basking Ridge at Metcalf. The school is an $10 million asset to the district as it was built primariliy with money from the Basking Ridge developers and only required a $2 million investment from the district. The school also reduced some overcrowding at Edenvale Elementary.

Question/Comment: Were you aware that there is a crime statistic difference between Baldwin and San Anselmo?

Response: We will look into it.

Question/Comment: The web site should be up tomorrow.

Question/Comment: Will the San Anselmo school grounds be available to the neighborhoods even if the site is leased?

Response: Yes. The leaser does not have exclusive rights to the school grounds. Generally, it would be the same as if the school was in operation. Use wouldn't be allowed when school is typically in session.

Question/Comment: I will be very disappointed if the teachers don't go to the school my kids are assigned to.

Response: Staff will have some options where they will go based on seniority within the district.

Question/Comment: What if one school gets more displaced kids than the other?

Response: We will wait and see if it needs to be addressed. Upper graders will be given first consideration for requested school transfers.

Question/Comment: I understand this decision from a logical point of view, but it is very difficult from an emotional point of view. I went to San Anselmo too and then moved back to the area so my children could attend San Anselmo too. The boom/bust cycle happens every ten years. Could you provide more data to support your enrollment projections and conclusions? Your data only goes back to 1995 and the data provided is not specific to support your conclusions.

Response: This district is very stable from an enrollment growth perspective. It is unlikely we will see the same number of kids in this area as we did in the 70's. The ten year cycle is more like a twenty to twenty-five year cycle. People that can afford your homes today are likely to have fewer kids than in the past. The district is trying to preserve the quality of programs to the students. If the district has to go back to a 30-1 student-teacher ratio, the kids will suffer from that too. Consolidation allows us to keep our teachers, keep our programs and to keep the quality of the district.

Question/Comment: How was the Radko jog decided to be in the Baldwin assignment area instead of the Santa Teresa area? It would be much easier for my child to use the power line easment to get to Santa Teresa.

Response: The distribution numbers had to work first to balance the placement of students. We tried a break at San Ignacio but it didn't work. It worked with a boundary line at Jaggers.

Question/Comment: What is the current enrollment at Baldwin and Santa Teresa?

Response: Baldwin has a resident enrollment of 465 and an attending enrollment of 450.
Santa Teresa has a resident enrollment of 511 and an attending enrollment of 508.

Question/Comment: What was the basis for the enrollment forecast? Does the district have any plans to fight the State Capitol budget plans to lessen the impacts to their school district?

Response: No response to the first question was given in this exchange. It may have been answered in the first hour of the meeting. The districts you have seen in the paper are fighting their funding formula which is largely based on property tax revenue.

Question/Comment: Can't we fight this [budget impact]?

Response: The reality is schools are going to be hit hard this year.

Question/Comment: How do we obtain the underlying financial information, i.e. district budget, break down of budgets by school, etc.

Response: I will get to you what you ask for.

Question/Comment: Does San Anselmo have the lowest enrollment?

Response: Yes. Students are brought in from the southeastern part of the district to get the enrollment numbers up at both San Anselmo and Blossom Valley schools.

Question: Are enough schools being closed or are we going to have to go through this difficult process again in a few years? Should three schools be closed?

Response: We could have to do this again in the future, but don't anticipate needing to do that. We could close three now, but I only want to do two. We have three current surplus sites that could be sold, but we wouldn't be selling the new closed school sites.

Question/Comment: Will class sizes be affected at Baldwin or other schools?

Response: No. We are doing this to avoid increasing class sizes.

Question/Comment: The home and school club president addressed the parents in the audience to please help the 16 teachers at San Anselmo to help transition the kids through this process over the next five months.

Question/Comment: Can all questions asked and responses at this meeting be published.

Response: Yes. The spirit of the question and answer will be shared with the Board of Trustees for their February meeting and can also be published.

Question/Comment: Will students in the GATE program still be in the GATE program at their new school?

Response: Yes.

Question/Comment: A Santa Teresa member on the consolidation task force welcomed all parents and students who would be coming to Santa Teresa. She believed the San Anselmo parents, staff and students would be an asset to Santa Teresa school.

There will be an Oak Grove School District Board meeting Thursday, January 23, 2003 at 7:30 PM at at the district office located at 6578 Santa Teresa Boulevard.

If anyone has any additional information to add to this report, please send and email to

Below are some additional questions I had and some possible responses at an earlier home and school club meeting last Wednesday where Superintendent Manny Barbara was in attendance:

Question: What and where are the three declared surplus school district properties?

Response: He didn't name them but I'm pretty sure that these are the two closed schools that are being leased out Calero School ( 420 Calero Ave) and Maude Dickinson School ( 500 Shawnee Lane)

Question: Have any or all of these properties been proposed for sale?

Response: Yes, he said both of the previously closed schools were declared surplus and will be put up for sale but not Blossom Valley or San Anselmo.

Question: Has a decision to sell these properties been made yet?

Response: Yes, he said it had been made but when??? who knows.

Question: If these properties are sold, what would they be used for?

Response: He said that the City has first option to buy all of our properties. He said the City would not give them as much as they could get outside. If the City chose not to buy they would probably be sold and houses built.

Question: Is there any plans to make any changes with the school district office property?

Response: In the past he has talked about selling the current District Office Property and move it to another site but we didn't ask him that at this meeting.

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