Enrollment Projections look Bleak in Fight to Save Valley Oak from Closure

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Thursday’s school board meeting brought a heated discussed as the District unveiled new projections. The projections show around a 400 student drop from 2006 to 2016 with around 200 of those being in elementary school enrollment.

Greg Davis told the board that the Valley Oak school only has 220 students at present–the smallest number of schools in the district. Another 311 go to Valley Oak from outside the attendance area.

Fred Buderi, a Valley Oak neighbor, raised a very important point about the potential residential development of the PG&E site that could bring many additional students to Valley Oak. But this development is not factored into the future enrollment projections prepared by the Davis Demographics & Planning. His remarks were dismissed by the board saying that they should not take into account plans that are not yet approved. On the other hand, Baki Tezcan points out it is “ironic that after counting for Covell Village in building Korematsu, now they say they cannot count for something that does not exist even though it will not require a city-wide vote and will probably happen in due course and produce new students in need of a school to go.”

It does seem strange that they would make projections without taking into account potential future areas of growth. I would have to see how they do their projections to see if it is merely done based on current population projections or they are taking into account some of the substantial infill growth projected over the course of the next decade. Baki Tezcan claims that the East Eighth Street development was not factored into the projections produced by the Davis Demographics and Planning.

Baki Tezcan also points out that several of the Task Force members suggested at a Valley Oak site council meeting in December that Valley Oak students would make the rest of East Davis more diverse if the school were to be closed. However, that would be accomplished at the expense of putting the burden on more poor students why forcing them to walk to schools farther away in distance or find other means of transportation.

Thursday’s Davis Enterprise had three very nice letters to editor on Valley Oak. I was particularly taken by the letter by Brendan O’Hara who wrote about the strengths of neighborhood schools. “Neighborhood schools serve a larger purpose than simply educating the children who live nearby. In many ways, they help create community in a time when people are becoming increasingly disconnected from each other.”

I remain a strong support of the neighborhood school concept for a number of reasons. Along similar lines Vickkie Duax writes: “One of the sub-points states:

“”Student learning is advanced and enhanced by a welcoming campus climate where students have strong connections to their schools, their teachers and other adults and their peers.”

It seems to me that closing Valley Oak directly opposes many of the board’s stated goals. How are neighborhood children supposed to develop a “strong connection to their school” when they are bused to a different neighborhood? How are the parents supposed to be able to pick up their children in an emergency, if they don’t have a car, and a walk will take 45 minutes?”

This has unfortunately been turned into a battle of school against school and neighborhood against neighborhood. I would hope the district might consider putting aside their projections and look at the arguments in favor of neighborhood schools as a whole, regardless of enrollment projections and the possibility of future projections of residential growth. I also continue to believe the closing of Valley Oak would put a large strain on a group of people who really lack the means and the resources. We need to strongly consider the future of our children and give them strong and solid foundations. This starts with a strong and positive elementary school experience in their own neighborhood with the children that they grew up playing with.

—Doug Paul Davis reporting

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About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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8 thoughts on “Enrollment Projections look Bleak in Fight to Save Valley Oak from Closure”

  1. Anonymous

    The city and school board are getting exactly what they want, infighting between neighborhoods. I don’t have school aged children so this fight doesn’t matter much to me. But personally I’m happy to see another neighborhood drawing the short stick. Makes me feel like my neighborhood isn’t the only one getting picked on.

  2. Anonymous

    The city and school board are getting exactly what they want, infighting between neighborhoods. I don’t have school aged children so this fight doesn’t matter much to me. But personally I’m happy to see another neighborhood drawing the short stick. Makes me feel like my neighborhood isn’t the only one getting picked on.

  3. Anonymous

    The city and school board are getting exactly what they want, infighting between neighborhoods. I don’t have school aged children so this fight doesn’t matter much to me. But personally I’m happy to see another neighborhood drawing the short stick. Makes me feel like my neighborhood isn’t the only one getting picked on.

  4. Anonymous

    The city and school board are getting exactly what they want, infighting between neighborhoods. I don’t have school aged children so this fight doesn’t matter much to me. But personally I’m happy to see another neighborhood drawing the short stick. Makes me feel like my neighborhood isn’t the only one getting picked on.

  5. Anonymous

    I’m sorry, but I don’t think Brendan O’Hara’s letter makes any sense. The “neighborhood school” argument is not nearly as relevant to the cause of keeping VO open as some seem to believe. If only 40% of the students are neighborhood residents (220 from the neighborhood, 311 from other areas), how is it that VO can be considered a neighborhood school? It’s primarily a commuter school, and much more so than any other school in the district (with the possible exception of Chavez, which is a magnet school).

    Considering that there are 550 or so K-6 aged Mace Ranch kids, it seems that arguing for neighborhood schools strongly favors fully opening Korematsu at VO’s expense.

    If I were a proponent of keeping VO open (and I’m not convinced that’s the right solution, for various reasons), I would argue for a 9-school plan that redraws district boundaries such that each school has about 450 kids or so. This would provide VO with better enrollment stability and better grade level differentiation. In this scenario, VO’s enrollment would be boosted by pulling some kids from Birch, N. Davis, and/or Korematsu. The argument would be that it’s unfair to place the burden of declining enrollment entirely on one campus/neighborhood.

    The proponents seem to be currently arguing for a plan that makes little sense. Why would you want your neighborhood school to be a small school that would be so disproportionatley low-income and ELL? Education research has for years identified two disadvantages to pupil achievement: 1) Coming from a low socio-economic status (SES), and 2) attending school where the student body is disproportionately low SES. That’s exactly the kind of school VO would be under the proponents’s plan. I don’t see that this is beneficial to the kids.

    Plus, without redrawing boundaries, the district would be creating a school that may not have much to offer parents of relatively high-achieving children. You can see this developing in microcosm at VO’s k-1 classes, right now. This is a preview of what all grades will be like under a 9-school option that doesn’t significantly redraw boundaries. The loss of the relatively high-SES Mace Ranch kids will serve to lower the school’s API scores, and you’ll see even more parents start to utilize the intradistrict transfer option (about 1/3rd of VO neighborhood parents already do), which will make the school even smaller and the scores even worse, and so on and so on.

    The political downside to requesting a redrawing of boundaries is that it will disrupt schools all over the city, and bring out more angry parents who don’t see the current situation as one that affects them (is anyone at Birch Lane even paying attention?), but I think VO proponents need to understand what it is they are asking for, because they may just get it…

  6. Anonymous

    I’m sorry, but I don’t think Brendan O’Hara’s letter makes any sense. The “neighborhood school” argument is not nearly as relevant to the cause of keeping VO open as some seem to believe. If only 40% of the students are neighborhood residents (220 from the neighborhood, 311 from other areas), how is it that VO can be considered a neighborhood school? It’s primarily a commuter school, and much more so than any other school in the district (with the possible exception of Chavez, which is a magnet school).

    Considering that there are 550 or so K-6 aged Mace Ranch kids, it seems that arguing for neighborhood schools strongly favors fully opening Korematsu at VO’s expense.

    If I were a proponent of keeping VO open (and I’m not convinced that’s the right solution, for various reasons), I would argue for a 9-school plan that redraws district boundaries such that each school has about 450 kids or so. This would provide VO with better enrollment stability and better grade level differentiation. In this scenario, VO’s enrollment would be boosted by pulling some kids from Birch, N. Davis, and/or Korematsu. The argument would be that it’s unfair to place the burden of declining enrollment entirely on one campus/neighborhood.

    The proponents seem to be currently arguing for a plan that makes little sense. Why would you want your neighborhood school to be a small school that would be so disproportionatley low-income and ELL? Education research has for years identified two disadvantages to pupil achievement: 1) Coming from a low socio-economic status (SES), and 2) attending school where the student body is disproportionately low SES. That’s exactly the kind of school VO would be under the proponents’s plan. I don’t see that this is beneficial to the kids.

    Plus, without redrawing boundaries, the district would be creating a school that may not have much to offer parents of relatively high-achieving children. You can see this developing in microcosm at VO’s k-1 classes, right now. This is a preview of what all grades will be like under a 9-school option that doesn’t significantly redraw boundaries. The loss of the relatively high-SES Mace Ranch kids will serve to lower the school’s API scores, and you’ll see even more parents start to utilize the intradistrict transfer option (about 1/3rd of VO neighborhood parents already do), which will make the school even smaller and the scores even worse, and so on and so on.

    The political downside to requesting a redrawing of boundaries is that it will disrupt schools all over the city, and bring out more angry parents who don’t see the current situation as one that affects them (is anyone at Birch Lane even paying attention?), but I think VO proponents need to understand what it is they are asking for, because they may just get it…

  7. Anonymous

    I’m sorry, but I don’t think Brendan O’Hara’s letter makes any sense. The “neighborhood school” argument is not nearly as relevant to the cause of keeping VO open as some seem to believe. If only 40% of the students are neighborhood residents (220 from the neighborhood, 311 from other areas), how is it that VO can be considered a neighborhood school? It’s primarily a commuter school, and much more so than any other school in the district (with the possible exception of Chavez, which is a magnet school).

    Considering that there are 550 or so K-6 aged Mace Ranch kids, it seems that arguing for neighborhood schools strongly favors fully opening Korematsu at VO’s expense.

    If I were a proponent of keeping VO open (and I’m not convinced that’s the right solution, for various reasons), I would argue for a 9-school plan that redraws district boundaries such that each school has about 450 kids or so. This would provide VO with better enrollment stability and better grade level differentiation. In this scenario, VO’s enrollment would be boosted by pulling some kids from Birch, N. Davis, and/or Korematsu. The argument would be that it’s unfair to place the burden of declining enrollment entirely on one campus/neighborhood.

    The proponents seem to be currently arguing for a plan that makes little sense. Why would you want your neighborhood school to be a small school that would be so disproportionatley low-income and ELL? Education research has for years identified two disadvantages to pupil achievement: 1) Coming from a low socio-economic status (SES), and 2) attending school where the student body is disproportionately low SES. That’s exactly the kind of school VO would be under the proponents’s plan. I don’t see that this is beneficial to the kids.

    Plus, without redrawing boundaries, the district would be creating a school that may not have much to offer parents of relatively high-achieving children. You can see this developing in microcosm at VO’s k-1 classes, right now. This is a preview of what all grades will be like under a 9-school option that doesn’t significantly redraw boundaries. The loss of the relatively high-SES Mace Ranch kids will serve to lower the school’s API scores, and you’ll see even more parents start to utilize the intradistrict transfer option (about 1/3rd of VO neighborhood parents already do), which will make the school even smaller and the scores even worse, and so on and so on.

    The political downside to requesting a redrawing of boundaries is that it will disrupt schools all over the city, and bring out more angry parents who don’t see the current situation as one that affects them (is anyone at Birch Lane even paying attention?), but I think VO proponents need to understand what it is they are asking for, because they may just get it…

  8. Anonymous

    I’m sorry, but I don’t think Brendan O’Hara’s letter makes any sense. The “neighborhood school” argument is not nearly as relevant to the cause of keeping VO open as some seem to believe. If only 40% of the students are neighborhood residents (220 from the neighborhood, 311 from other areas), how is it that VO can be considered a neighborhood school? It’s primarily a commuter school, and much more so than any other school in the district (with the possible exception of Chavez, which is a magnet school).

    Considering that there are 550 or so K-6 aged Mace Ranch kids, it seems that arguing for neighborhood schools strongly favors fully opening Korematsu at VO’s expense.

    If I were a proponent of keeping VO open (and I’m not convinced that’s the right solution, for various reasons), I would argue for a 9-school plan that redraws district boundaries such that each school has about 450 kids or so. This would provide VO with better enrollment stability and better grade level differentiation. In this scenario, VO’s enrollment would be boosted by pulling some kids from Birch, N. Davis, and/or Korematsu. The argument would be that it’s unfair to place the burden of declining enrollment entirely on one campus/neighborhood.

    The proponents seem to be currently arguing for a plan that makes little sense. Why would you want your neighborhood school to be a small school that would be so disproportionatley low-income and ELL? Education research has for years identified two disadvantages to pupil achievement: 1) Coming from a low socio-economic status (SES), and 2) attending school where the student body is disproportionately low SES. That’s exactly the kind of school VO would be under the proponents’s plan. I don’t see that this is beneficial to the kids.

    Plus, without redrawing boundaries, the district would be creating a school that may not have much to offer parents of relatively high-achieving children. You can see this developing in microcosm at VO’s k-1 classes, right now. This is a preview of what all grades will be like under a 9-school option that doesn’t significantly redraw boundaries. The loss of the relatively high-SES Mace Ranch kids will serve to lower the school’s API scores, and you’ll see even more parents start to utilize the intradistrict transfer option (about 1/3rd of VO neighborhood parents already do), which will make the school even smaller and the scores even worse, and so on and so on.

    The political downside to requesting a redrawing of boundaries is that it will disrupt schools all over the city, and bring out more angry parents who don’t see the current situation as one that affects them (is anyone at Birch Lane even paying attention?), but I think VO proponents need to understand what it is they are asking for, because they may just get it…

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