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READER'S EDITORIAL: GUHSD BOUNDARY CHANGES ARE EQUITABLE AND PROCESS WAS FAIR




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By Doug Deane, Chair, 2011 GUHSD Boundary Committee

 
January 16, 2012 (San Diego East County) -- I’m writing this in response to residents of the GUHSD who believe that they were not given adequate notification of changes recommended by the 2011 Boundary Committee.  I was Chair of that committee.  I’d like to make it clear that I speak only for myself.  The opinions stated below are mine only, and are not necessarily the opinion of the GUHSD, its Trustees or its administrative staff.

 

I regret that there are residents who feel that there was not adequate notification.  I know that the District did everything within reason to let its residents know that a boundary study was underway, and that recommendations were being considered which would change many of the District’s high school boundaries.  Considering the current budget issues faced by all the districts in the state, I don’t believe that sending a mailer to each and every family within the District’s boundaries would be practical, or fiscally prudent.  I saw notices of the community forums in the Superintendent’s Newsline, in East County Magazine, in the Union-Tribune, and in other East County publications.

 
But, if there are residents who believe that they were not given reasonable notification, it’s their right to show up at a future board meeting, in order to share their feelings with the Trustees.  I encourage them to do so.
 
Concerning the boundary changes, I’d like to emphasize that our deliberations were exhaustive, comprehensive, and that we solicited public feedback during our deliberations and afterwards.  The basic challenge with the old boundaries was that populations had shifted dramatically during the decade since the boundaries were last redrawn.  Some areas had grown substantially, while others were in decline.  There was (and still is) a huge disparity between the most heavily attended high school (Granite Hills at 2,751) and the least attended high school (Santana at 1,503).  That’s a difference of over 1,200 students, and considering that both high schools were designed for a student population of 2,000, the population disparities cause substantial problems.
 
The schools that are over-populated are forced to use temporary classrooms in order to accommodate the additional numbers of students, but that doesn’t even address infrastructure issues like insufficient cafeteria space or bathrooms.
 
The schools that are under-populated are not able to provide the same rich array of educational options and extra-curricular activities that are provided by the larger schools.
 
Our goal in the Boundary Recommendations was to balance the student populations at each of the 9 existing high schools, while maintaining neighborhood integrity, student diversity, student safety, and the needs of each of the communities served.  I think that it must be agreed that in order to balance student populations, that boundaries must be redrawn.  One cannot happen without the other.  So, there will inevitably be homes that are moved from one high school to another, and there is really nothing that can be done about that, other than leaving the status quo, which is unacceptable.
 
The District has tried to mitigate parents’ concerns by adopting these policies in regard to the boundaries:
 
  • No student will be moved from one high school to another.  If they have already started at a District high school, they will be allowed to finish at that same school.
  • If a family has had one or more student attend a District high school that is now outside their new boundary, all siblings will be allowed to attend that same school.
  • If a family has a student with special educational or extra-curricular needs, they may apply to the District for permission to attend a high school outside their boundary.  There is, admittedly, tightened criteria for allowing such transfers, but the option to request it is still available to parents.
 
I believe strongly that adequate notification was given to residents of the GUHSD, and I am completely satisfied that the new boundaries are equitable and will result in an improvement in the educational environment for all students throughout the District.

 

Boundary Changes Unfair

Please rescind the boundary changes. We have children in middle school - if the budget is so bad that you can't afford to contact us, why were the middle schools not notified of the proposed boundary changes and meetings so they could notify parents? We receive frequent calls from our middle school and only heard about this change after it was done and DURING the January board meeting! Why didn't the board send letters home with middle school children or notify the middle schools to distribute the information, at the very least?

We do not subscribe to the few media outlets that were contacted about this. I don't make it a practice to check online to see if boundaries are being changed. We purchased our home in 2004 knowing that our daughters would attend Valhalla High School with their cousins and good friends. Now we've been switched to Monte Vista while their cousins and friends will attend Valhalla. There is no bus from Monte Vista to our area, so how are two working parents going to get their children to and from the school? At Valhalla they can carpool with their cousins - or they can attend Steele Canyon that DOES have a bus to our area.

We are furious about the underhanded decision that seems to be geared toward pulling children out of Steele Canyon and back into the GUHSD. Now we have two options - sell our home and move (with property values already low, and now lower because we are assigned a substandard school) or select a charter school or private school. We will be looking at other schools and our honors students won't be attending Grossmont Union High Schools.

Notification

I agree, given budgetary constraints, that sending home notification via “snail mail” would not have been the most budget-conscious thing to do. However, given the significant impact this situation is going to have, it seems that more could have been done to reach out to those for whom this will have a dramatic and negative impact. For example, we receive a number of “robocalls” per week from the various schools in our La Mesa-Spring Valley School District. It seems that it would have been relatively easy (and cost little or nothing) to generate calls that would have informed parents that decisions were being made that would effect students within all district boundaries.
I am not sure when and where Mr. Deane saw articles in the UT or what they said, but I never saw any. I'm happy for him that he is satisfied that adequate notice was supplied, but as one of the many parents adversely impacted by this situation I do not agree with his assessment. As for his level of satisfaction that the process was equitable…well I don't agree with that either.

PLEASE RESCIND BOUNDARY CHANGES

As Blossom Valley residents, my wife and I have been following the GUHSD Board fairly closely because of Alpine High. If it wasn't for that, we may not have known of Boundary changes. However, we had no knowledge of actual formation of Boundary Committee or preliminary information on boundary changes. We were only provided a "town forum" meeting in November 2011 but it really seemed like an after-the-fact formality to describe changes. The GUHSD Board approved Boundary changes about a week after final town hall meetings.

Shouldn't a Boundary Committee be made up more than 2 members from the public and not a majority (13) who were GUHSD administrators?

I do believe the GUHSD Boundary Committee did the best they could but formation/make-up of the Boundary Committee was flawed because of above. Also notification (both preliminary and final) was clearly lacking for such an important decision that will effect many.

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