Is Clifford School getting a fair shake from San Carlos?

March 25, 2009



This conversation really happens.

I believe that any Realtor who has been selling in San Carlos for any period of time has heard this statement at one time or another (or something akin to it) from a prospective home buyer:

“We don't want to look at properties in San Carlos that are west of the Alameda, because we don't want to be in the Redwood City School District.”

I certainly have heard this comment in the past, and I have been told by other agents that they have as well.  (Even more alarming is when that conversation is reversed, and an agent conveys says this exact message to the home buyer…but that's an entirely different story.)     Don't shoot the messenger just yet.

Setting aside whether this is right or wrong for a moment, one can understand where this sentiment may come from.  The San Carlos School District is a big draw for some home buyers, and consequently if they're going to pay for a San Carlos address, they may also want their children to attend San Carlos Schools.    Nothing shocking here — this same scenario is played out in other cities all along the Peninsula that have neighborhoods that border adjacent school districts (Check out this article on Linclon Elementary in Burlingame…the schools in question here are in the SAME school district!)

Are we in San Carlos..or not?

If you've been shopping for a home in San Carlos for any period of time,  you have probably figured out that not all homes that are in San Carlos actually feed into the San Carlos School District.    There are pockets on the northernmost parts of the city that feed into the Belmont School District, for example.   But the area that's pertinent to this discussion is approximated in the shaded area below:

View Larger Map

Ironically, this section of San Carlos is home to some of the nicest neighborhoods and most expensive homes in all of San Carlos.  It includes well-known and sought-after streets like Eaton Avenue, Graceland Avenue, and Debbie Court.  But the fact remains that all of these homes feed into the Redwood City School District, not the San Carlos School District.

It's important to clarify that this isn't an argument pitting the Redwood City School District versus the San Carlos School District, because if you look at the Redwood City School District Boundary List, you'll notice that all of the streets in the map above feed into one particular Redwood City School:  Clifford Elementary.    This discussion is really all about Clifford School.

So, is Clifford School getting a fair shake?

Consider the following facts about Clifford:

  • Their most recent API Score was 807. Compare that to the rest of the Redwood City School District, as well as to the API scores of the San Carlos Schools.
  • Clifford is a K-8 school, unlike San Carlos elementary schools who split up elementary and middle schools after the 4th grade.
  • Clifford's school grounds have undergone significant upgrading in the past few years.

There's another school in the Redwood City district that could easily fit the above description:  Roy Cloud School. And believe me, residents of Emerald Hills generally fight tooth and nail to ensure their kids get into Roy Cloud.   So, what's the difference?   Is any slight, perceived or real, truly justified?

Time to Change the Perception?

When I ask families who I know have their children in Clifford about the school,  every answer I have ever received has been overwhelmingly positive.   If you're a parent of a Clifford student, I'd love to see you share your insights in the comments below.

Perhaps it's time to change the perception about the school that serves this pocket of San Carlos.   After all, the same exact thing is happening right now at Sequoia High School…another school that probably hasn't been given a fair shake…


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  1. BA Mom on March 26, 2009 at 3:14 pm

    I feel that being K-8 is a really positive aspect of Clifford and while the API scores are important 807 is still a good score. Once a school hits in the 800s it’s really the parenting that counts more towards a child’s success than the API score of their school.

  2. Chuck on March 27, 2009 at 7:14 pm

    BA Mom,

    I agree. I think there are significant benefits with a K-8. Namely — once you’re in, you’re in. In theory, you shouldn’t have to worry about getting squeezed out of a grade because of enrollment concerns. Also, the jump from 4th to 5th grade can be a big one when there’s a change of schools involved, as there is with San Carlos schools.

    Finally, you’re correct in that 807 is a very respectable API score, especially since it was an increase from the previous year. Trending in the right direction.

    Thanks for your comments,


  3. Kristin on July 23, 2009 at 5:25 am

    Clifford definitely does not get a fair shake. This is horrible to say, but the elephant in the room is school funding. San Carlos narrowly avoided disaster with the passing of Measure B, and with a lot of hard work this year by the SCEF. Even with all that, the state budget crisis looms. It is a tragedy that Redwood City’s Measure E failed. All this is madness; Prop 13 is distorting the fabric of our communities and dismantling our public education system.

  4. Anonymous on September 24, 2009 at 10:25 pm

    If you are in the Clifford school address, you are eligible for NorthStar?

  5. Lisa on January 7, 2010 at 10:22 pm

    Why is Orion not on the API score list of schools linked to this article? Does anyone have any feedback to this school that I hear most of the kid’s test into N. Star at 3rd grade?


  6. Anonymous on March 1, 2015 at 7:00 pm

    Yes, but who cares?

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