News: Redistricting Discussion Focuses on Ravenswood Community
On Wednesday, September 25th, the Sequoia Union High School District (SUHSD) board discussed possible changes for dealing with enrollment growth and redistricting, such as allowing more students from East Palo Alto to attend M-A instead of busing them farther away to Woodside and Carlmont.
According to Jim Lianides, the superintendent of SUHSD, over 10,000 students will be enrolled in the district by 2020, whereas enrollment today is around 8,300 students.
Mr. Lianides emphasized “keep[ing] communities intact to the greatest extent possible” in the transition from the K-8 system to high schools as a “core value that has come out of every one of the meetings.”
He explained that while all of Hillview and the Las Lomitas Elementary School District (LLESD) transfers into M-A, the Ravenswood community has been split into three attendance areas since the early 1980s. “Those who live north of Willow and west of 101 live in the Menlo-Atherton attendance area. There's a big portion of East Palo Alto that lives in the Carlmont attendance area and the smallest portion, the southeast portion of East Palo Alto, lives in the Woodside attendance area…Students at Carlmont and Woodside tend to have long bus rides,” potentially 40 minutes each way, to get to school.
Although some students in the LLESD actually live in the Woodside attendance area, Trustee Allen Weiner said in a separate interview that a provision in their administrative regulation allows those students to transfer to M-A, mainly because there are so few of them. Last year, only 11 students from LLESD came to M-A under that transfer provision.
Mr. Lianides remarked that ”M-A is already educating over half of the students who reside in the 94303 zip code, virtually none of whom are actually living within the M-A attendance area.” The open enrollment policy allows students to request to attend a different school than the one they are automatically assigned to, and that request may be granted if there is space available. A high proportion of open enrollment requests come from Ravenswood parents hoping their children can attend M-A.
In order to keep communities intact and address enrollment growth, the board is considering a proposal that would give priority to Ravenswood students wishing to attend M-A: “We are not increasing the capacity of Menlo-Atherton in any way for the interim 13-14 year but we would be allowing Ravenswood kids to attend, upon request, up to the capacity of the freshman class.” The board hopes to hold smaller community meetings in October and to have a map of new, tentative boundary lines this November.