November 14, 2018
NOVEMBER 14, 2018
REDWOOD CITY SCHOOL DISTRICT
Redwood City, California
APPROVED MINUTES OF BOARD OF EDUCATION MEETING
November 14, 2018
- Call to Order
President María Díaz-Slocum called the meeting to order at 7:01 p.m. at the Fox Theatre, 2215 Broadway, Redwood City, CA 94063.
Present at the meeting: President María Díaz-Slocum, Vice-President Dennis McBride, Trustees Janet Lawson, Alisa MacAvoy, Hilary Paulson, and Superintendent Baker.
Others Present: Linda Montes, Wendy Kelly, Antonio Pérez, Jorge Quintana, Kyle Brumbaugh, Leslie Stafford, Martha Barragan, Merid Herrera, Rosalba Rodríguez, Vanya Douglas, Teresita Carlos, Yuribia Obeso, Lizbeth Villalobos, Alicia Paredes, Laura García, Gonzálo Blanco, Daniela Gochez, Alexander Rodríguez, Lili Silva, Luis Gochez, Ana López, María Apolinar, Lillian Rosillo, Mariber Aguilar, Gloria Comfort, Vianey Hernández, Aarón González, Ashley Ávila, Jason Lavulo, Christopher Gibbons, Galilea García, Celeste Reynoso, Giovanni Magaña, Jocelyn Ávalos, Andrea Chocano, Roxanna Álvarez, Ángel Carlos, Jasmine García, Elena Valencia, Mary Jane Vallejo, Julie Lands, Gloria Rangel, Diana Valencia, Victor Tena, JJ Schneider, James Carrig, Juan Molina, Alma Murillo, Natali Villanueva, Erica Paz, Janine Gross, Ángel Esquivel, Susan Schwartz, Magdalena Dorywalska, Michelle Smith, Jonathan Shaw, Jennifer Overbey, Elizabeth Ocampo, Kathleen Harris, Jasmin Galdamez, Tony Quintero, Rocsana (unknown last name), Siglinda Lemus, Chantelle Tretz, and Eric Sutton and many more who did not sign in.
2.1 President Díaz-Slocum welcomed those present. The Pledge of Allegiance was recited.
2.2 Pledge of Allegiance
- Changes to the Agenda
Trustee MacAvoy requested to move Agenda Items 7-11 to November 15th’s board meeting.
- Approval of Agenda
The board approved the agenda as amended, (McBride, Paulson; 5-0).
- Oral Communication
- Discussion Items
6.1 Draft of Superintendent’s Formal Recommendations: Planning for Our Future Community Engagement Process
Superintendent Baker welcomed those present and expressed that it has been difficult to make the recommendations he would present this evening. Superintendent Baker added that he had never imagined that during his career, he would have to make such challenging decisions.
Superintendent Baker commented that he would start the meeting by providing the School Board and members of the audience with a presentation about data from all district-wide schools in addition to recommendations proposed by the Superintendent’s Advisory Council Committee, comprised of staff, parents, and community members. Superintendent Baker expressed that the recommendations came forward on October 16th and he evaluated the proposed recommendations on November 1st.
Superintendent Baker stated which were the proposed recommendations:
Recommendation 1: Close 4-6 school sites.
Recommendation 1A: Move Orion Alternative School to John Gill School.
Recommendation 1B: Merge the 2 Spanish Immersion programs, Selby Lane and Adelante Spanish Immersion, at Selby Lane School campus.
Recommendation 1C: Close Taft Community School during the bond construction and re-open it in the future with a new name, new vision, and new program.
Recommendation 1D: Consolidate 4 Bayside schools.
Recommendation 1E: Expand the Roosevelt School attendance zone to include all parts of the Hawes Elementary School attendance zone.
Recommendation 1F: Close District Office and lease the facility.
Recommendation 2: Staff reductions.
Recommendation 3: All incoming and current students at schools merging would have priority in the Schools of Choice lottery.
Recommendation 4: Form a committee to review K-8 versus K-5 and 6-8 grade configuring models.
Recommendation 5: Form a committee of North Star Academy parents and staff to study solutions to areas of concern.
- Martha Barragan, teacher at Taft Community School, attended the Board meeting to speak on behalf of her students. Ms. Barragan expressed that she hopes that the School Board and Superintendent Baker decide not to close Taft Community School. Ms. Barragan commented that Taft Community School offers many services to families and closing the school would be detrimental to the education of the children it serves. Ms. Barragan added that many Taft Community School families have been affected by gentrification and the rise of housing costs. Ms. Barragan commented that if the school were to move elsewhere, it would also affect families that walk, due to lack of transportation.
- Merida Herrera, parent at Taft Community School, stated that she attended the school board meeting in representation of Taft Community School parents. Ms. Herrera commented that she feels extremely saddened by the decisions being made and added that students are the most affected in this process. Ms. Herrera expressed that she believed the remodeling of Taft Community School would only benefit children of Technology employees, displacing current students to other schools. Ms. Herrera commented that she found it interesting to see that the only schools affected by changes were the eastside schools. Ms. Herrera urged the School Board and Superintendent Baker to keep Taft Community School open.
- Rosalba Rodríguez, parent at both Taft Community School and McKinley Institute of Technology, commented that if the School Board decides to close Taft Community School, it would affect many families that do not have transportation options. Ms. Rodríguez added that a large number of students walk to school, feel safe and comfortable at school. Ms. Rodríguez commented that many families feel discriminated against for being socio-economically disadvantaged. Ms. Rodríguez invited School Board members and Superintendent Baker to visit the schools affected by the decisions made by the School Board and administration. Furthermore, Ms. Rodríguez commented that students and families are concerned and afraid about the decisions made.
- Vania Douglas, parent at Adelante Spanish Immersion School, addressed the School Board by expressing that she recognizes that changes within the School District are necessary, but hopes those changes benefit students in the long run. Ms. Douglas added that she does not feel that the decisions made are equitable.
- Teresita Carlos, parent at Kennedy Middle School, Hawes and Fair Oaks Schools, addressed the School Board by stating that many Hawes School families walk their children to school. Ms. Carlos stated that leaving parents with a difficult choice to move to a different school site and walk additional miles would be a strain to families.
- Yuribia Obeso, parent at Hawes School, addressed the School Board by asking them how many times had they walked their children to school, while pushing a stroller? Ms. Obeso opined that closing schools and having parents walk farther distances is insensitive and would create a hardship for families without transportation. Ms. Obeso asked the School Board what would happen if charter schools start recruiting families while offering free transportation services, after school care, and free tutoring? Ms. Obeso also asked the School Board why schools in the west were not affected.
- Lizbeth Villalobos, parent at Hawes School, addressed the School Board by asking what is going to happen to the after school programs. Ms. Villalobos stated that many families within the School District depend on the after school programs. Ms. Villalobos expressed that families at Hawes School built a community in order to help each other out.
- Alicia Paredes, left the meeting and did not speak.
- Laura García, parent at Selby Lane School addressed the School Board by asking why are schools in the west side not affected by these changes? Ms. García expressed that currently, families in the east side send their children to the schools where they feel the safest and have built a strong, trusting, and safe community. Ms. García reiterated that families have the right to choose their school without the fear of having it taken away. Ms. García added that she feels betrayed by the School Board and Superintendent. Ms. García urged the School Board and Superintendent Baker to make the right decision that would have the least negative impact on families and students.
- Gonzálo Blanco, left the meeting and did not speak.
- Daniela Gochez, student at McKinley Institute of Technology, addressed the School Board by commenting that during her years at Fair Oaks School, teachers and staff were amazing to her. Daniela expressed that she would like for Fair Oaks students to have the same opportunities to she had while being a student there.
- Alexander Rodríguez, student at Fair Oaks School, commented that he loves his school and he is heartbroken at the fact that his school might close soon.
- Lili Silva, parent at Fair Oaks School, commented that neighborhoods are going to be severely affected by the proposed changes. Ms. Silva asked the School Board and Superintendent Baker what is going to happen to the Special Education classes and preschool classes? Ms. Silva recommended that Fair Oaks School be combined with Taft Community School, that way both communities would benefit. Ms. Silva urged the School Board and Superintendent Baker to reconsider their proposed changes.
- Luis Gochez, parent at Fair Oaks School, Hawes School, and McKinley Institute of Technology, addressed the School Board by commenting that unfortunately, both Fair Oaks School and Hawes School would be closed. Mr. Gochez commented that a year before, the Fair Oaks community fought to keep their school open and failed to understand why a year later, they would have to fight once again to keep their school open. Mr. Gochez recommended that the School Board and Superintendent Baker combine both Fair Oaks Community School and Taft Community School.
- Ana López, parent (unknown school site), stated that she understands that the School District is going through severe budget cuts; however, she feels that leasing the District Office will not result in a substantial financial help to the School District. Ms. López expressed that the School District’s current financial situation is due to mismanagement.
- María Apolinar, parent at Fair Oaks School, commented that the School District’s current situation is due to the approval of charter schools within the district. Ms. Apolinar added that once the proposed changes go into effect, families would move to charter schools. Ms. Apolinar expressed that if there isn’t a solution to the proposal of closing schools in the Bayside, she would move her children to a charter school.
- Lillian Rosillo O’Connor, expressed that the recommendations are not equitable across the School District. Ms. Rosillo O’Connor added that the School Board and Superintendent Baker failed to take into consideration inconvenience and hardships for families. Ms. Rosillo O’Connor stated that having a North Star Academy committee is elitist and did not think it was appropriate.
- Maribel Aguilar, parent at Selby Lane School and Hawes School, commented that her children do not want their schools to close. Ms. Aguilar encouraged the School Board and Superintendent Baker to seek funding from neighboring companies.
- Gloria Comfort, parent at Adelante Spanish Immersion School, thanked the School Board and Superintendent Baker for everything they do. Mrs. Comfort expressed her disappointment at the fact that only the schools in the Bayside were being affected by the proposed changes. Mrs. Comfort encouraged the School Board and Superintendent Baker to figure out a more equitable solution to move students around the School District.
- Vianey Hernández, parent at Garfield School, expressed that she attended the School Board meeting to advocate for Garfield School. Ms. Hernández commented that Garfield School is a great school that promotes bilingualism, cultural awareness, provides a safe environment for families, students, and staff. Furthermore, Ms. Hernández commented that if a charter school were placed on Garfield School’s campus, there would not be sufficient space for Garfield School students. Ms. Hernández encouraged the School Board to keep Garfield School as is.
- Aaron González, student at Selby Lane School, addressed the School Board by stating that he attended the School Board because he is worried many schools will close. Aaron commented that the thought of students not receiving the same opportunity for a quality education like he did worries him. Aaron urged the School Board and Superintendent to keep the schools in the District as is.
- Ashley Ávila, North Star Academy alumni, commented that North Star Academy is a bright school and should remain as is. Ashley commented that as soon as she arrived to North Star, she was welcomed with open arms. Furthermore, Ashley stated that the community that North Star Academy has created would eventually be broken if North Star Academy were to be affected by the proposed changes.
- Jason Lavulo, student at Selby Lane School, stated that he has great teachers at Selby Lane School and would like for Selby Lane School to remain as is.
- Christopher Gibbons, 6th grade student at Kennedy Middle School, commented that he has a younger sister attending Adelante Spanish Immersion School. Christopher expressed that with the help of his teachers, he was able to feel very comfortable. Christopher added that it would be extremely difficult for his younger sister to get used to Adelante if it were to be moved to a different school site.
- Galilea García, student at Taft School, commented that she loves her school, teachers and her family.
- Celeste Reynoso, student at Garfield School, thanked the School Board and Superintendent Baker. Celeste expressed that Garfield School is a school where she has built trust, friendships, and a safe environment. Celeste added that this type of community and school setting is hard to find and urged the School Board to allow students to stay at Garfield School.
- Giovanni Magaña, 6th grade student at Selby Lane School, commented that he would like for other students to have the same experience he did at Selby Lane School and added that he wishes to be able to graduate from Selby Lane School, like his older sister. He closed his comment by saying, “If it’s not broken, don’t fix it.”
- Jocelyn Ávalos, student at Selby Lane School, commented that she does not want her school to close because she walks to school. Jocelyn urged the School Board to listen to families’ concerns and not close Selby Lane School.
- Andrea Chocano, student at Selby Lane, expressed that she does not want her school to close. Andrea explained that for many families, it would be hard to make the transition to a new school due to limited time. Andrea further expressed that many families work more than two jobs and often times walk to school. Andrea commented that Selby Lane is like a second home to her and hopes to one-day graduate from Selby Lane School. Andrea urged the School Board to reconsider Selby Lane School’s closure.
- Roxanna Álvarez, parent at Adelante Spanish Immersion School and Kennedy Middle School, expressed how much she loves her community and wants her children to have the same education opportunities she had. Ms. Álvarez continued to express that she would not like to relocate her children to a different school site and urged the School Board to reconsider the proposed changes.
- Ángel Carlos, former student at Hoover School, Hawes School, and Kennedy Middle School commented that he had teachers that believed in him. Ángel added that both his parents and teachers encouraged him to do well in school.
- Jasmine García, former Taft School student, commented that she does not want Taft School to close. Jasmine expressed that she lives a few blocks away from the campus and would like for the school to remain as is.
The School Board took a break at 9:18pm.
The School Board reconvened at 9:30pm.
- Gloria Luz Vargas, left the meeting and did not speak.
- Elena Valencia, parent at Fair Oaks School, Haws School and McKinley Institute of Technology, commented that she does not believe Fair Oaks School should close. Ms. Valencia expressed that Fair Oaks is a united community, where students feel safe and protected. Ms. Valencia urged the School Board to be kind and reconsider their proposed changes. Ms. Valencia encouraged administration to bring new and innovative programs to Fair Oaks, in order to attract a larger student population.
- Mary Jane Vallejo, kindergarten teacher at Hawes School, expressed that she has worked for over 17 years at the Redwood City School District and those years have been entirely dedicated to Hawes School. Ms. Vallejo commented that she understands that the School Board is currently facing budget challenges; however, she is astonished at the fact that the affected schools would be Fair Oaks, Hawes, and Taft. Ms. Vallejo further added, that the aforementioned schools have a large Latino population and many students are socioeconomically disadvantaged. Ms. Vallejo expressed that Hawes School is a true neighborhood school with higher test scores than some of the other Bayside schools. Ms. Vallejo urged the School Board and Superintendent Baker to reconsider their proposed changes and keep Hawes School open.
- Julie Lands, left the meeting and did not speak.
- Gloria Rangel, parent at Fair Oaks School, expressed her disappointment at addressing the School Board once again. Ms. Rangel commented that the Fair Oaks community has diligently worked to prove they would achieve what they promised to the School Board and Superintendent Baker they would do; however, Ms. Rangel does not believe the School Board and Superintendent Baker are keeping their word on what was promised to the Fair Oaks School community.
- Diana Valencia, left the meeting and did not speak.
- Victor Tena, community member representing Fair Oaks School, encouraged the School Board to work with the community. Mr. Tena encouraged the School Board and Superintendent Baker to visit Fair Oaks School and see the needs of families and students. Mr. Tena urged the School Board not to close Fair Oaks School.
- JJ Schneider, teacher at Hawes School, addressed the School Board by stating that Hawes School is one of the schools with most families that walk to school. Ms. Schneider further added that Hawes School has the highest number of kindergarten registrations, lowest suspension rates, high ELA scores, and high parent participation. Ms. Schneider urged the School Board to reconsider their decision to close Hawes School.
- James Carrig, former student at Fair Oaks School, Hoover School and McKinley Institute of Technology, commented that he loves Selby Lane School and desires for the Selby Lane community to continue growing. James further added that Selby Lane teachers offer a great level of support after school. James expressed he understood that the School District had to make challenging decisions, but encouraged the School District to make decisions based on the benefit of the students.
- Juan Molina, left the meeting and did not speak.
- Alma Murillo, left the meeting and did not speak.
- Natali Villanueva, parent at Adelante Spanish Immersion School, expressed her frustration at waiting for the School Board and Superintendent Baker to make a decision about the proposed changes. Ms. Villanueva reiterated that she attended the School Board meeting to obtain answers to her questions. Furthermore, Ms. Villanueva expressed that she pays someone to pick up her children from school and asked the School Board and Superintendent Baker if they were willing to pay her if she did not find an alternative mode of transportation. Ms. Villanueva encouraged the School Board not to close Adelante Spanish Immersion School.
- Erica Paz, left the meeting and did not speak.
- Janine Gross, left the meeting and did not speak.
- Ángel Esquivel, parent at Henry Ford School, addressed the School Board by asking what would happen to teachers and staff at the schools affected and what would the School Board do about offering transportation services to the families affected by the proposed changes.
- Susan Schwartz, parent at RCSD, addressed the School Board by expressing her concern about all the proposed changes.
- Magdalena Dorywalska, parent at Adelante Spanish Immersion School and Kennedy Middle School, expressed her concern about the possible loss of the Spanish Immersion Program students. Ms. Dorywalska commented that because of the location of schools, many families would decide to move to private and charter schools instead.
- Michelle Smith, parent at Adelante Spanish Immersion School and North Fair Oaks resident, commented that the severe budget cuts would affect her neighbors. Ms. Smith further added that the proposed changes would create an inconvenience and hardship for families that do not have a mode of transportation. Ms. Smith commented that families on the Bayside would be the most affected by the changes proposed. Ms. Smith offered her help in order to bring the School District to solvency and not have the Bayside community affected by the changes.
- Jonathan Shaw, parent at Adelante Spanish Immersion School and physician in Ravenswood, expressed his concern at the possible closure of Adelante Spanish Immersion School. Mr. Shaw commented that he and his wife chose Adelante for its diversity and great bilingual culture and environment. Mr. Shaw urged the School Board to look at the district-wide priorities.
- Jennifer Overbey, parent and community member, addressed the School Board by stating that she acknowledges the heartache everyone feels due to the recent proposed changes. Ms. Overbey added that she would like to hear input from all communities within the Redwood City School District and recommended that the North Star Academy Committee be compromised of district-wide communities, not just North Star Academy.
- Elizabeth Ocampo, parent at Adelante Spanish Immersion School and Fair Oaks School, expressed that she did not feel that the School Board was representing the community with the proposed changes. Ms. Ocampo expressed that it hurts her to know many families would be affected by the proposed changes. Ms. Ocampo felt that marginalized communities are being oppressed by the proposed changes.
- Kathleen Harris, Redwood City Education Foundation, addressed the School Board and Superintendent Baker by expressing that the School District is facing many challenges. Ms. Harris invited community members to share ideas with the Redwood City Education Foundation on better ways to help serve the Redwood City School District.
- Jasmine Galdamez, parent at Hawes School, commented that it breaks her heart when her son asks why Hawes School is being closed down. Ms. Galdamez encouraged the School Board and Superintendent Baker to put themselves in the shoes of those families affected. Ms. Galdamez urged the School Board and Superintendent Baker to come up with solutions to better serve students within the School District.
- Tony Quintero attended the School Board meeting to advocate for the North Fair Oaks community. Mr. Quintero expressed his resentment towards the proposed changes. Mr. Quintero commented that there is a major problem as he felt that the School Board did not care sufficiently for the future of the schools affected by the proposed changes. Mr. Quintero expressed that there are alternatives to closing down schools.
- Rocsana (No last name), parent leader from Innovate Public Schools and former student at Garfield School and Selby Lane School, addressed the School Board by asking them what would they do to close the Achievement Gap?
- Siglinda Lemus, parent at Selby Lane School, addressed the School Board by asking them to move Rocketship Redwood City Prep students out of Kennedy Middle School.
- Chantelle Tretz, parent at Roosevelt School and member of the Superintendent’s Advisory Council, commented that there were many meetings where difficult discussions took place and recommendations made; however, she felt that the Bayside schools were the ones mostly affected by the changes. Ms. Tretz commended the Fair Oaks School community for being fierce and standing up for what they believe in. Ms. Tretz commented that it the School District’s moral obligation to provide transportation to all those families affected by the proposed changes.
- Eric Sutton, parent at Woodland School, commented that he was thankful for all the parents he met from Taft Community School, Hawes Elementary School and Fair Oaks Community School. Mr. Sutton expressed how proud he felt about how diverse communities have come together to advocate for their schools and their students’ futures. Mr. Sutton asked why were the Westside schools not as affected by the proposed changes?
Superintendent Baker clarified that all services for students with special needs would continue, perhaps not at their same school site, but students currently obtaining services would continue receiving transportation, speech therapy, occupational therapy, audiology services, etc.
Superintendent Baker expressed that those students receiving after school services would continue to be enrolled in the programs. Superintendent Baker commented that he and his staff would ensure that students in the After School Program would continue to benefit from the program.
Trustee Paulson expressed her concern about closing Fair Oaks Community School and Taft Community School at the same time.
In reference to Trustee Paulson’s comment, President Díaz-Slocum asked why was there a proposal to close a school site that is currently using bond program dollars for renovation.
In response to President Díaz-Slocum’s question, Trustee Paulson commented that the bond was approved by taxpayers. Trustee Paulson assured that the funds were completely set aside for bond program items only and the Oversight Committee makes sure that the funds are spent accordingly to the ballot language.
Vice-President McBride expressed that closing schools has been the School Board and Superintendent Baker’s last resort. Vice-President commented that he received over 1,000 emails from parents, staff, and community members and added that the fundamental issue is that there needs to be a cut of $10 million. Vice-President McBride commented that the School District has sought funding from foundations and organizations; however, some of these foundations and organizations are very specific about how the District could move forward in spending the money. Vice-President McBride expressed his regret at having to make such challenging decisions. Vice-President McBride thanked everyone who attended the meeting and spoke.
Trustee Lawson expressed her concern about closing too many K-5 schools. Trustee Lawson commented that she would like to keep the K-5 model. Trustee Lawson added that it has been heartbreaking listening to the testimony of many parents and students and clarified that the schools are not broken, but the funding is. Trustee Lawson commented that with a broken funding system, the School District has to make difficult changes.
Trustee MacAvoy encouraged the audience to visit fullandfairfunding.org to sign a petition and learn more about the way in which public schools are funded. Trustee MacAvoy explained that the Redwood City School District is now funded below the national level and encouraged the community to reach out to local State Assembly members and Senators to encourage fair funding for public education. Trustee MacAvoy reiterated that the School Board cares about students and the community and encouraged communities to work collaboratively to make this difficult process a lot smoother. Trustee MacAvoy expressed that in the past, the School District has made personnel cuts without closing schools, but now the School District can no longer run small schools and must close and merge some schools.
Trustee Paulson said that her term as Board Member is soon coming to an end and expressed that at the beginning of her term, during the Great Recession, she experienced having to make cuts to keep the School District solvent. Trustee Paulson encouraged the community to contact the local State Assembly members and Senators to advocate for more state funding. And, she recommended reaching out to the Redwood City Education Foundation on ways to help raise funds for the School District.
The School Board proposed the following changes:
- Merge Taft and Fair Oaks Community Schools to be located at Taft Community School.
- Close the District Office and lease the facility.
- Move forward with the North Star Academy Committee and include parents from other school sites.
- The School Board did not agree to consolidate all 4 Bayside Schools.
- Move Orion Alternative School to John Gill.
- Merge the 2 Spanish Immersion Programs, Adelante and Selby Lane to be located at Selby Lane School.
- Expand Roosevelt attendance zone to add Hawes families.
****Note: Trustee MacAvoy requested that Agenda Items 7-11 be tabled for the November 15th Board meeting.
- Board and Superintendent Reports
- Other Business/Suggested Items for Future Agenda
- Board Agenda Calendar
11.1 Changes to the Board Agenda Schedule
- Adjournment (Action Required)
The board adjourned the meeting at 12:05 a.m. (McBride, Paulson; 5-0).
Alisa MacAvoy, Clerk