On Monday evening, two parents and a grandparent of students at Marshall Elementary School met in the Grass Valley Elementary School Auditorium to give their input to Oakland Unified School District employees about proposed attendance boundary changes for families who live within the current Marshall area, since the school will be closing after the 2011-2012 school year.
The boundary changes come after the OUSD school board voted in October to close five schools — Marshall, Lakeview, Lazear, Maxwell Park, and Santa Fe. OUSD officials now have to restructure attendance boundary areas for families who live near the schools slated for closure.
This week, OUSD officials are hosting community input meetings that are scheduled to go on until Wednesday. There is a meeting about changes to the Maxwell Park Elementary attendance boundaries on Tuesday at Bret Harte Middle School starting at 6 pm. The meeting about Santa Fe Elementary attendance boundaries is scheduled for Wednesday at Claremont Middle School Auditorium at 6 pm.
The boundary change process began last month, when the district, along with board members, developed preliminary scenarios for the boundary changes. After developing three different options for each school, the district began hosting community meetings to get input from those who will be affected by the proposed changes. These meetings will continue until this Wednesday. A public hearing is scheduled for the December 14 school board meeting at the boardroom in the Paul Robeson Building.
Another public hearing meeting concerning the boundary changes is scheduled for January 11 at the school board meeting. The board is expected to vote at that meeting as well.
Inside the Grass Valley auditorium on Monday, posters were taped to the wall showing the three options for the changes as well a poster for people to write comments.
“When attendance boundaries are proposed to be changed, it defines the priority families will have to attend a school located within that boundary,” said David Montes de Oca, the Executive Director of OUSD’s quality schools development as he spoke to the small group. “If you would like to attend the school, you would have priority over someone who does not live in the attendance boundary.”
There are three attendance area proposals for Marshall. While all of the proposals give priority for families that live in the area east of the 580 freeway to attend Grass Valley Elementary, the proposals differ in whether to assign the area west of 580 to REACH Academy Elementary School, Howard Elementary or Grass Valley. Option one would assign the area South of the freeway to REACH Academy, while the option two would assign the area to Howard Elementary, and option three would send assign the entire area, both east and west of the freeway, to Grass Valley.
Vince Valenzuela, a parent whose 4 year-old son will be entering kindergarten next year, said he came to the meeting learn find out what the options are for his son. “We moved by Marshall so we were wondering what was going to happen,” Valenzuela said.
While the meeting only called for comments and explained the process for changing the boundaries, Valenzuela said it also helped him understand how the boundary changes would affect his family. Since he lives closer to the center, he wants the option that would leave two schools for the family to pick, instead of the other option which would give preference for the students in the area to attend Grass Valley.
“Now, that I’ve been here, I see the new boundaries are only going to affect other kids,” he said. “I just live right in the middle, so I prefer either [option] one or two because there will be less kids and hopefully the classrooms will be smaller.”