Belmont School Board Postpones Boundary Vote

Instead, elementary schools could have no boundaries at all. The decision will be June 16.

After more than three hours of deliberation, school district leaders early Friday morning decided to postpone their vote on whether to redefine school boundaries, and consider having no boundaries at all.

The decision, reached at 2:39 a.m., will give staff for the Belmont-Redwood Shores School District Board of Trustees time to research the option of not having residential boundaries for the six elementary schools in the district.

It was a less-than-expected move, as parents and the board members were anticipating a vote between altering the boundaries for the Belmont elementary schools or implementing a lottery system in an effort to curb a capacity problem at Central and Cipriani schools.

Dozens of parents sat through the hours of public comment as well as the board's discussion before the group came to its conclusion to put off the vote.

Earlier in the discussion, board members appeared to sway 3 to 1 in favor of boundary changes. Board President Andy Stulbarg looked to be the dissenting vote, while board member Chuck Velschow was unable to participate due to a conflict of interest.

Should boundary changes be implemented, areas 41, 42 and 43 would be moved from Central Elementary to Nesbit Elementary as well as Cipriani areas 20, 23 and 24 to Central, and areas 25 and 26 to Fox.

Board members Cathy Wright, Brian Matthews and Robert Tashjian preferred boundary changes to the alternative, a capped enrollment with a lottery.

Matthews said a boundary change would keep neighborhoods together, whereas a lottery could split them up.

“The idea of neighborhood schools is keeping communities together,” Matthews said. “That to me means moving neighborhoods instead of potentially individual kids.”

Stulbarg, however, countered that splitting up Central's current boundary would add to the time it takes students to walk to school in the 41 to 43 areas, and that the houses in those areas aren't close enough to Nesbit to be considered the school's neighbors.

“It takes 10 minutes to walk from City Hall to Central,” Stulbarg said. “It takes 25 minutes to walk from City Hall to Nesbit. That is not a neighborhood school,” he added, to loud applause from the audience.

Tashjian cited the need to increase the size of Nesbit's boundary as one of his reasons for preferring boundary changes.

“Fundamentally larger boundaries will produce more kids; if we look at the boundary for Nesbit it’s too small for the school,” Tashjian said.

He added Nesbit would have a more stable environment if its boundary is increased.

“Otherwise we’re going to be stuck in a situation where Nesbit will be the overflow school,” he said.

The idea of not having boundaries at all was introduced well into the discussion. Wright cited Mill Valley's school district as a successful example of no boundaries. The school district there tries to enroll students in the school closest to their homes.

The Belmont-Redwood Shores School District staff will explore that option for Belmont before the district's next meeting on June 16, when board members said they will find a way to help with district's over-enrollment.

CP June 06, 2011 at 06:09 AM
EricM, The superintendent's data presented in April shows that by 2013: Cipriani would be over capacity by 97, Central would be over by 50 Fox would be over by 20 Even the two Redwood Shores schools would each be over capacity by 25 student. Nesbit has 90 seats open. Even filling up Nesbit would not solve the problem. This is before any new classrooms are approved to be built. Is the demographer report posted on the brssd website? Could you add the link?
Rene June 06, 2011 at 07:52 PM
Hi LBC, I agree, changing boundaries is not logical and not a strategic solution for the Belmont community. It is self serving for the 3 board members. Brian - protecting Fox from any impact, Robert - Cipriani protector, Kathy the Nesbit growth promoter. They are not looking at the alternatives solutions seriously or they would easily see how it is obviously the most strategic, equitable solution for the entire community. They are solely protecting their own interests. It is disappointing Belmont elected officials are choosing their own interest instead of what is best for Belmont children and families. Apparently those three board members are from the "ME" generation. I agree with others who say have been predisposed to the boundary changes from the start, with bureaucratic apathy for those children/family in the areas 41-43 forced to move. Please vote them out at the next opportunity possible. Forcing children over El Camino to Nesbit will not be successful. Implementing Language immersion or another top program is the way to successfully create demand for Nesbit's open spaces in our community.
gs June 07, 2011 at 04:06 PM
When and where is the next meeting?
Laura Dudnick June 07, 2011 at 07:13 PM
The next school board meeting is Thursday, June 16, likely at 7 p.m. in the Ralston gym. Belmont Patch will publish the official time and location once they have been announced.
Jane Smith April 01, 2012 at 03:58 AM


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