San Carlos School Wait-List: Has the door closed at White Oaks Elementary?
April 22, 2009
(Update: Here's an article that was published in today's Daily Journal: Kindergartners max out school capcacity)
Two months ago when sign-ups for the 2008-09 school year were conducted, the San Carlos School District experienced an unexpected surge which resulted in 70 more kindergarten applications than they were expecting. This was good news for the School District, but not-so-good news for families expecting to attend White Oaks Elementary School. They took the brunt of that upside when they received 130 applications for only 80 kindergarten slots.
I wrote an article on this enrollment situation which includes a very informative article from the Daily Journal. Click here for that post: San Carlos School Enrollment and Budget on a Collision Course.
Wait Lists Aren't New at White Oaks…
Wait lists have almost become a way of life at White Oaks Elementary School. It seems like every year the school receives more kindergarten applications than it has available slots, and for good reason. San Carlos is in a rare situation, in that each and every school in its district is absolutely outstanding — the most recent API scores back this up: San Mateo County 2008 API Scores.
But White Oaks School seems to experience a level of demand that's not seen by other schools. Even San Carlos residents who live outside the White Oaks boundary apply for their kids to attend this school, and prospective home buyers put the White Oaks neighborhood as their top priority to ensure that they get into this school. Without a doubt, White Oaks Elementary School carries a certain cachet within San Carlos.
Historically the San Carlos School District has been able to resolve the wait-list concerns, and San Carlos residents have generally been lucky enough to get into the school of their choice. But this year, that luck may have run out for a significant number of White Oaks residents…
Diverted to Heather?
According to the aforementioned Daily Journal article, the School District has been looking at a variety of ways to accommodate the huge influx of applications, from increasing the student-teacher ratio up to 22:1, and exploring the possibility of portable classrooms. But according to some parents on this current wait list, the message they're now getting from the School District is this:
Prepare to attend another school in the fall.
From what I'm told by these parents, the most likely place for those on the wait list will be Heather Elementary, since it's the closest school that still has enough capacity. Brittan Acres is actually closer in proximity, but apparently there isn't sufficient capacity at BA either.
Critical School Board Meeting.
Needless to say, this development has created high anxiety within the White Oaks community, and a number of critical questions will need to be addressed. For example,
- Is this change permanent for those involved, or will there be an opportunity for the displaced families to get back into White Oaks in subsequent grades?
- Does this mean the elementary/middle school track for these families is now Heather-Tierra Linda, as opposed to the White Oaks-Central path they have long expected?
- What plans does the school district have in place to address this problem in the future? (If you've been around Burton Park the past few days, it doesn't seem like the enrollment in our school district is going to be dropping anytime soon.) Will the White Oaks school boundaries be changed in the future to balance the enrollment mismatch?
This is a very tough, multi-dimensional problem that won't be solved by a quick fix. White Oaks isn't the only school in San Carlos that is tackling enrollment challenges – the delta they're trying to close just happens to be the biggest of the bunch. And make not doubt about it — any solutions that are proposed will have a far-reaching impact on all of the schools, not just White Oaks. More on that in a future post….
If you're one of the families that is impacted by this, it's important that you attend the next San Carlos School District board meeting, which is tomorrow night, April 23, at 7:00 PM at the Central Middle School library. According to the District, this item will be on the agenda.