SLV School District Perspectives
School Closure - Key Points - North District
There were a lot of pros and cons for keeping both schools open. Here is a summary of the important differentiating issues (the ones that where the two schools were found to be different), taken from the School Closure Committee Report. Note that the following was as of March of 2003.
When reading these lists, I think it's vital to realize that not all issues are equally important. I mention this because in the course of evaluating the various factors about the schools, numerical ratings were assigned to the schools on many issues. These types of ratings are useful in comparing on each individual factor, however, it's not very helpful to use such ratings to make comparisons between issues. An example is the transportation evaluation in the northern area. While both schools had their positives and negatives, many committee members felt strongly that overall commute time, bus route complexity, and number of displaced students were much more important factors than ease of pickup and drop-off. Therefore adding up the numbers of each of the issues only muddies the waters - it's truly like trying to add apples and oranges. Decisions on complex issues, unfortunately, can't often be reduced to adding up columns of figures. For that reason, I'm not including the numbers in my listing of the issues.
Key points that carried a lot of weight with the committee and/or board are asterisked. Some of these were written in the report, while others are from my notes of what committee members and board members said. I put two asterisks by the one point most often cited as a key point by these people in the north district decision.
* 1. BCE has larger classroom capacity, but 2 of its portables need replacing. If the science lab at Redwood is converted to a classroom, Redwood would need 5 portables, BCE 3. Pads and utility hookups for portables are already in place at BCE, but would have to be added at Redwood.
* 2. Play areas - Redwood has a total of 120,526 square feet, including the upper field (not currently used for play space). BCE - 148,496 square feet. Redwood has more grass area (including upper field), BCE has more sand area and more paved area. Some of Redwood's current play area would be taken up with portables. (Note: some of these figures were later somewhat revised, I will correct these figures in a few days.)
* 3. Redwood is only 12 years old and needs very little in the way of repair. There is general agreement that it is a very nice, modern building. BCE is slated for renovation with bond funds. It last had renovations in 1991.
4. Computer Lab - BCE has large, centrally-located lab.
5. Library - Redwood has beautiful library, while BCE's is small.
6. Parking - Redwood has more parking and very good pick-up and drop-off layout.
* 7. Redwood has more permanent buildings (only one portable).
8. MP room - BCE's MP room has larger capacity.
* 9. Community Use - There is more community use of BCE than Redwood.
10. Technology infrastructure was cited as a "pro" for both.
11. BCE has phone and intercom in each room. Redwood has intercom in each room, phone in each pod.
12. Layout was cited as "pro" for both.
Quote from Facilities Report:
"For the North end of the Valley...after much consideration, and while the decision was tough, we chose Boulder Creek Elementary. We felt that this site would better meet the needs of the students of a combined campus school. We found the strengths to be the capacity, the layout, the fields/playgrounds, the multiuse room, and the community use of the facility, which the Redwood site would need additional portables that would encroach on the already limited space.
* 1. Redwood had no major problems with the building and grounds themselves cited. It is completely handicapped-accessible, except for the upper field.
* 2. BCE has 3 exits, while Redwood has 2, however, 2 of BCE's exits are apparently usually locked, one of them is too narrow to turn around, and Lomond St. is steep (although it was pointed out that this has not historically been a problem).
3. BCE has evidence of mold and mildew in some portables.
4. BCE has an area of uneven blacktop and "non-conforming" (non-handicapped accessible, I think this means) slope between upper and lower playgrounds.
5. BCE has some large trees either on campus or on adjoining land, while Redwood has no redwoods.
6. 8 classrooms at BCE only have one exit - only true of one portable at Redwood.
7. BCE has no peepholes in classroom doors, while Redwood does.
* 8. Historically, Redwood has been closed more due to road closures, however, apart from the 2000 slide (which has been fixed), this has only been 2 days in 12 years.
9. BCE has air conditioning in most classrooms.
* 10. BCE 1/2 mile to fire station and doctor, and is in town with accessibility to other emergency needs (stores, etc.). Redwood is 3 miles from these services, and a road closure could cut students off.
Note: Members mentioned that most of BCE's safety concerns would be addressed if it remained open, as part of the renovation.
There were not as many differentiators in this group.
*1. The bus routes would be longer and more complex at Redwood than BCE, as BCE is more centrally-located in the northern attendance area, which extends from the north part of Ben Lomond through the northernmost reaches of the district. Most students would have a longer commute to Redwood than to BCE, some of them significantly longer.
**2. 400 students would be relocated if Redwood stays open vs 250 if BCE stays open. (see map for detail - warning, it loads slowly. To load in another window, right-mouse click and select)
3. BCE impacts local residential area more than Redwood - increased usage would increase this.
4. Redwood has excellent design for pickup and drop-off. BCE would be less smooth in this regard, both for buses and cars. However, the transportation evaluators felt that BCE children could be dropped off farther away from the school, and relieve congestion somewhat that way.
D. Financial Implications
This is from the report for all four schools:
"The operating fund budget crisis caused by declining enrollment has necessitated this action.
The amount of operating fund savings of closing a school is not a function of which school is closed.
The differential operating fund costs of the elementary schools is only marginally different, and not a significant factor.
It is virtually impossible to meaningfully ascribe relative value to the subsequent alternate uses of the various facilities.
Regarding renovations from the Measure S Bond, this is important in considering the "big picture" of district finances and the allocation of scarce resources. It should not, however, be confused with annual operating budget implications.
One more factor doesn't really fall into the any of the above categories, and was cited as a "key point" by some committee members:
"Schools are built around the community. The community is where the students live."