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North Star Academy Forward Committee Outcomes

Beginning in the the 2022-23 school year, Redwood City School District (RCSD) will move forward with implementing several district actions to improve the enrollment process at North Star Academy (NSA) and increase access for all qualified students, including those from the Bayside schools, where fewer students have traditionally moved to North Star in 3rd grade. These new steps first started as ideas generated by the North Star Forward Committee, which was charged to study the impact NSA has on all other RCSD schools. The following actions were agreed upon by the RCSD Board of Trustees during the June 15 School Board meeting. 

RCSD will implement the following:

Communication and Outreach:
The district will carry out an extensive outreach program to ensure that every family in the RCSD boundary – regardless of assigned neighborhood school, language, economic or educational background – knows that North Star Academy (NSA) is an option that may benefit their student.

The district will increase the number of Spanish-speaking staff and teachers hired at North Star with a staff member serving as a liaison between NSA and the three Bayside schools (Garfield, Hoover, and Taft).

The district will provide transportation to the NSA campus between the three Bayside schools (Garfield, Hoover, and Taft). 

Universal Testing:
The district will continue to administer the CogAT assessment in all 2nd grade classrooms to identify all qualified students and give all interested families the opportunity to apply. 

These actions came to fruition after a process that included a districtwide committee, North Star Forward, which was made up of parents, teachers, administrators, and former NSA students. The purpose of the North Star Forward committee was to minimize the sense of division between NSA and other schools in the district by addressing and recommending solutions for specific areas where NSA is having an impact on other schools’ enrollment, academic performance and school culture, and building understanding for the mission and purpose of the school.

In early 2020, Superintendent Baker formally recommended and the Board of Trustees approved the formation of the North Star Forward committee to study the impact of North Star Academy (NSA) on other schools in the District. The study was formed to address comments and concerns that were raised during the Planning for Our Future process of fall of 2018 when the community submitted many comments, both positive and negative, about the impact of NSA. The study was approved on November 28, 2018, as one of the recommendations brought forth to the School Board as part of the Planning for Our Future process. 

After an application process seeking members for the Committee, the Committee started working in early February of 2020. It reconvened in early 2022 after a two-year hiatus due to an interruption caused by COVID-19 later wrapping up its work in the spring of 2022. 

At an April 20, 2022 Study Session, the Board was presented with 25 ideas that grew out of the Committee’s work. The NSA Forward Committee formed the ideas after being presented with detailed data on a variety of factors that informed their analysis and working within 5 groups, each focusing on a different challenge. The committee met 3 times in 2020 and 5 times in 2022, including an orientation for new members, sharing of updated data, group work dedicated to providing ideas to solve the charges from the Board, and a meeting to provide feedback on the final recommendations. Following the study session, the Superintendent developed four recommended options that reflected the committee’s ideas, the community’s feedback, input from the Board, and additional feedback from the committee. 

In addition to the initiatives above, the Superintendent’s recommendations in the June 15 Board memo also included options to change NSA’s grade configuration, but after a lengthy discussion following hearing testimony from more than 30 community members, the Board directed the Superintendent and staff to implement the four initiatives above with no changes to grade configurations.