Belmont-Redwood Shores School District Considers Redefining Boundaries

Parents packed Central Elementary School's multi-use room Thursday night to ask questions and voice their concerns.

Faced with several filled-to-capacity schools, the is considering redefining its Belmont elementary school boundaries as enrollment continues to swell.

Dozens of parents packed the multi-use room Thursday night to voice their concerns and questions to Superintendent Emerita Orta-Camilleri, Assistant Superintendents Nellie Hungerford and Penny Weaver, Board President Andy Stulbarg, and board members Cathy Wright, Brian Matthews and Robert Tashjian.

The school district has about $29.4 million to spend on modernization at the Belmont elementary schools, thanks to the passage of last November, and Tashjian said the question comes down to whether to put the money into building new classrooms or upgrading classrooms.

"We all want the classrooms to look new, updated, not cluttered so the teachers can teach well," Tashjian said. "It costs a lot of money to build new classrooms. It would be extraordinarily expensive to build new classrooms at Cipriani to fit the current site."

He added, "We have extra rooms, open rooms. Does it make sense to spend bond money to build new classrooms, when we have unused classrooms at one of our schools?"

One of the options, which riled up most parents at Thursday night's meeting, is to move about 120 students from Central Elementary to , Orta-Camilleri said.

No decisions were made at Thursday's meeting, and school officials urged parents to remember they have several months -- until May 5, to be exact -- before a recommendation is made to the board. The board will take action on May 19.

A boundary committee -- comprised of Matthews, Tashjian, Orta-Camilleri, Weaver and Hungerford, as well as the principals from all six elementary schools in the district and parent representatives from each elementary school -- will hold a number of meetings before May.

But some parents said two months isn't enough time to come up with a space solution.

"The bond measure was passed some time ago and probably this could have been started a little sooner," Belmont resident Dave Stumbo said.

Many parents also expressed interest in changing the name of the boundary committee in order to emphasize other possibilities.

"I suggest we just scrap the boundary committee name and make this a capacity committee," Belmont resident Traci Psaila said.

"Renaming the group working on this is a terrific idea," Belmont resident David Long echoed. "There are opportunities for a lot of people to get involved."

Psaila said she was "all fired up" and willing to help in any way possible to keep her children from having to switch schools.

It wouldn't be the first time Psaila's family was rezoned to another school, she said. The older of her two children used to attend Cipriani, but was switched to Central a few years ago.

"It is such a horribly painful process," Psaila said. "It wasn’t just an effect on my children, it was an effect on my entire family. I felt like I lost all my sisters, all my mom friends. I will do anything to keep this from happening."

The issue of property value also arose Thursday night, with parents worrying the values of their homes would decrease potentially by up to $100,000 should their kids be moved from Central to Nesbit.

The school board emphasized that the boundary changes, if implemented, likely wouldn't take place for the next school year.

Mayor Coralin Feierbach also attended the meeting and said afterward that she was pleased with the parents' ideas.

"In listening to these Central School parents, I'm very impressed with their ideas, passion and intelligence," she said. "I hope one of these parents would apply for the empty school board seat."

More information can be found by clicking "View Gallery" beneath the image of the attendance regions, or by clicking here.

The deadline to apply for the is 4:30 p.m. on Monday. Visit the school district's website to apply.

The next meeting to discuss the possibility of redistricting is scheduled for 7 p.m. Wednesday in Central Elementary's multi-use room.

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Bob April 13, 2011 at 05:16 PM
Hi Chris glad to see you are still here. I searched for you at the School Board meeting. I guess it is fair bet you were still reading that Dr. Suess book. I won't tell you how it ends. In one of your previous comments you told people that if they didn't want to make the move to Nesbit they always could sell their house and go someplace else. What you fail to understand is that many have done just that already to secure their spot at Central. School Board President Andy Stulbarg has said many times over that his child attended Nesbit what he isn't so forthcoming with is the fact when his child completed Kindergarten he quickly transferred out of Nesbit. I don't know the specifics as to why. It may have been the API scores or it may have been he no longer wanted to expose his child to the pollution from the 101 Freeway. From what I have been able to gather the Nesbit site with it's proximity to the freeway could not be built. If you look at page 12 of this document http://www.brssd.org/home/brssd/NewShoresAC/SchoolSiteEval-recommendation.pdf it tells you what criteria was used to locate the New Redwood Shores School. Here is what the state says about school sites http://law.onecle.com/california/education/17213.html If anything the board should be looking to reduce students at Nesbit for health reasons not increase attendance
David Hasselbacher April 14, 2011 at 06:47 PM
KP - My son was one of the many Shores kids who went to Kindergarten at Nesbit 5 years ago. I can say we had a wonderful experience as a family, and by that I mean not only did my son meet some great kids who are still his friends today, but we also met many parents that we otherwise probably never would have met. He had a phenomenal Kindergarten teacher and a wonderful year; the only negative for us was being forced to drive everyday to drop off and pickup. There are two sides to every story. Central families don't want to move their kids, but also, do Nesbit families want to have them come to their school? I would be a bit careful in how your choice of words, "Nesbit has been a dumping ground for many years for students that no other school wanted". It's not about schools "not wanting" those kids but simply an issue of no place to put them, which is certainly not the fault of Nesbit but rather the district's "band-aid" approach that doesn't seem to ever change.
Bob April 14, 2011 at 08:15 PM
Chris I have to ask why you assume everyone west of ECR drives gas guzzling polluters? I personally live about 1/2 block from Safeway. Drivng the car to purchase groceries actually takes longer than walking due to the loading and loading of children and groceries I work from home and my wife walks my son to school we used to do it together until I broke my leg but I plan on being a part of that again soon. Are we keeping score? What I really hope to accomplish here is gaining the support of Nesbit parents in preventing the disruption of all of our childrens lives. Please let me know if you are up for a conversation
belmont mom April 14, 2011 at 11:27 PM
Chris, why are you so hostile? It sure is hard to find common ground when you keep attacking. Take a deep breath, step back, and try to find your happy place so we can work together and find a solution that works for everyone. You don't really know who you are talking to online. I can tell you Bob does not live on a cliff (most of this neighborhood is FLAT), does not have an SUV, and his family walks to school. Many families do - they just walk via Cobblestone and don't walk up Middle (which is why you earlier commenters don't see them) Please, everyone, let's try to bring something constructive to the table. We each want to protect our communities and our own worlds - let's work together to do that. I'm sure there is a way to get what is needed - a more stable community for Nesbit to nurture and the Central kids allowed to stay where they are since they're really just fine if not pushed around by other areas that have over/under enrollment issues. Forbelmont's got it right. Central is, as per its name, just stuck in the middle of this and getting slandered for it. You have read the end of that Dr Suess book, I assume? Or do we need to call in Sylvester McMonkey McBean to teach you that lesson? Sneetches are Sneetches. And no kind of Sneetch is the best on the beaches. Geez.
Bob June 01, 2011 at 05:21 AM
To reply to your April 10 question about the Superintendent and Board having that 2/2 meeting with Belmont Council it was just announced tonight at the City Council meeting it will be happening at the end of June. The Board will more than likely make a decision this Thursday night 7 pm at Ralston School.


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