Fair Oaks Elementary School to shut down

BY EMILY MIBACH
Daily Post Staff Writer

With students leaving in droves to charter schools or with their families to more affordable areas, the Redwood City School District yesterday (March 23) announced it would be closing Fair Oaks Elementary at the end of the school year.

Superintendent John Baker informed the school board about three weeks ago of his intention to announce the school’s closure, said Board President
Maria Diaz-Slocum.

Diaz-Slocum said Baker has been examining the decreasing enrollment numbers at the school, which currently has 221 students. It was expected to
have 180 students next year but then 40 students asked to be transferred.

The school is located in the North Fair Oaks neighborhood, a largely working-class and Latino area. Diaz-Slocum said many families whose children attended Fair Oaks have left the area because of the high cost of living.

“The housing is too expensive and people can’t live here. This is happening throughout the district,” Diaz-Slocum said. “We’ve lost a lot of families, and it so happens that in the area of Fair Oaks is where most have left, and some did go to the charters, too.”

Many families are also putting their kids in charter schools, believing they will get a better education there. There are six charter schools in Redwood City serving kindergarten through 12th grade, according to the California Department of Education. One is Connect Community Charter School, which shares a site with Fair Oaks.

Connect Charter has about 200 students, which is about the same as Fair Oaks, according to greatschools.org.

Where will students go?

With the closure of Fair Oaks, students and employees of the school will be dispersed to Garfield, Hoover and Taft, according to Baker’s statement on
the closure.

All three schools are about a mile away from Fair Oaks, and the district will bus students to their new schools for the next two years, according to Baker’s statement.

Diaz-Slocum said this is especially important since many of the Fair Oaks students walk to school.

Enrollment isn’t just down at Fair Oaks. The district has seen a 17% decline from the 2011-2012 school year to this year.

Ravenswood City School District, which serves East Palo Alto and east Menlo Park, is also suffering from a drop in enrollment — 22% fewer students since 2014.

The school districts have seen shrinking funds due to the low enrollment. Both are funded by the state based on the number of students enrolled and how many show up.

14 Comments

  1. What happened in Fair Oaks can happen at any public school. Menlo Park, Palo Alto… no public school in a low income neighborhood is protected. At the end of the day, this is a result of poor management and choosing not to have the conversation about how to save the school. There was no ‘Save the School’ campaign. There was no awareness building or sincere attempt to form a task committee. I question what actions were actually taken to actually prevent this. The interview on Kron4 is careful to say ‘this is a recommendation’ but the press release speaks like a done deal. As a community school, the community must fight to keep the very necessary resources on campus and within the immediate neighborhood it’s been designated to serve. I do not believe every step was taken to save this school. Management was plagued with turn over, and that is a direct reflection of support or lack of from the board level. This is the first school to close … there must be an intense investigation as to why and how because this can happen in a school near you. In addition, I how did Fair Oaks not being apart of Redwood City proper have an impact? Did it mean less help? Less money? Less focus? Would the board allow this at another local school in the official RWC side? Important questions must be asked.

  2. I agree, and it looks like this did not have sufficient community input! This could be an attempt to fund the more affluent areas at the expense of the children and families who live in the community?

  3. It is quite a shame to see our public school system being transformed into a money-making for-profit education system that will eventually educate only those who can afford to pay. Instead of investing in our public schools our government officials—from the Trump administration (with DeVos as Secretary of Education, promoting charter schools so aggressively) to our local government and school administrators—are getting fooled into thinking that charter schools will provide better quality education for all. I know parents try to seek and offer the best education for their children; however, this kind of thinking is shortsighted given that they only think about their own children’s future and not about the future of all other children. And while their children will be better schooled, they will be living in a world without balance, full of people who didn’t get the same good opportunities. We need to start thinking globally if we want our children to live in a better, more just and safe society rather than just thinking about our own. Fair Oaks school will now become a charter school, most likely to fill the needs of rich people who can pay their way in and who are on the waiting lists for private and charter schools. These are really sad times for the education of this country.

    • I completely agree! There needs to be a larger more holistic approach to school reform, but it is never going to happen unless people start speaking up. I’m shocked that it’s been almost one week, and there hasn’t been any media coverage except for two articles. BUT, I shouldn’t be shocked. The reality is, this affects only 180 kids in a community that is typically overlooked and not given a fair microphone. Parents at charter schools will ban together in solidarity because they know they can’t speak negatively against charter schools and choose to turn the blind eye because their kid is safe. Then you have a group of people on the right side of Redwood City (incorporated city-side) who have NO CLUE what’s happening on the other side because no one is talking about it. In all this, one thing is clear: where the school board stands. They’re not voicing and/or protecting the group of North Fair Oaks… come to think of it, do any of them live in the area? Isn’t there a reform to make sure the board members are equally distributed among the areas they represent? Would the fight have been stronger if it affected them in their own back-yard?

      The By-District shift is set to start in 2018, and more fully in 2020. We need local community to speak up, and raise their hands in our local elections. Creating change can be as simple as not letting it go unnoticed; see something, say something. What happened in Fair Oaks was YEARS of mismanagement, lack of transparency, and avoidance. We can’t allow this issue to be swept under the rug, and closing the school will do just that… As a community we must demand an investigation. WHY did this happen? HOW did we get here? WHAT is being done from happening to Hoover, to John Gil, to Taft, to other schools that already co-exist with Charter Schools? How are schools getting extra funding when they need it? What is the Boards check list to make sure every effort was exhausted before saying – “we’re done trying.” Parents don’t quit on their kids… not in this neighborhood… But it seems the BOARD quit on these Parents and Kids. Was it convenience? Was it an opportunity to cash in on rent? We must get to the root.

      We need education activists, legal students, people who care and want to get to the bottom. We can’t just stay quiet and forget this happened. This is our community – this is our school… and the Board quit on us. There is story here… someone needs to write it.

      • Whoever is curious off anything related to education in this City can easily get the answer to this issue. All of our schools are very poor on their results from state. Very sad. People is always choosing what is best for their children. So they move to a different neighborhood that is serving better. Clearly we should all speak out to not let this happen. Sadly to said but Fair Oaks is the lowest performance school in north Fair Oaks community.

  4. I’d like to respectfully disagree with the comment that West RWC residents have no clue about what is happening in other schools in the district. I’m a parent of a Roy Cloud student, I am very concerned about the decrease in enrollment across the district, and I am not alone on this. We have two big drivers behind the enrollment issues: the cost of housing and the rise of charter schools.
    I am very interested to hear what the plan is for the Fair Oaks school site- my hunch is that it will be the home to more charter schools…that will negatively impact our current “core” system.

    • I totally disagree with your comment, charter schools did not bring any negative impact when it comes to a better service for our Latino population in fact you should get more information on that. Charter score are higher then any other public school here.

  5. I will respectfully say that my daughter is in a charter school and I don’t pay one cent. I think there is a lot of misinformation about charter schools. Charter schools mean more options for parents. if I will have to choose for a school that is low performing and a school that is a “charter” “free” and is better for my daughter, I with not hesitate to take her there.

  6. It is sad to hear this news, but the closing of Fair Oaks it is not something that the district board members will do if they are not obligated to do. There are many factors that bring them to make that decision. Parents need to be open to changes and maybe there is a better offer for them, schools of choice charter schools or how ever they want to call it, is a good option for those parents.

  7. The families that realize mismanagement is at the core of the closing of this community school are correct. This district has been run like a nasty little fiefdom for years. Teachers have been threatened for years to be involuntarily transferred to Fair Oaks as punishment for standing up for their students. Did the board search outside the district for leadership? I doubt it. Are kids important to the district? Don’t make me laugh. Intimidation/bullying others is no way to succeed as a district. Parents—keep fighting!!

  8. My name is Morgan Stogner. I just watched the Board of Supervisor’s meeting on television. I saw all of the parents that came to speak about the school closing. The Board has traditionally ignored citizens personal comments, but I wish you guys well.

    I do not think the Board is interested in standing up for all families in the county. I am born and raised in San Mateo County. Born in Redwood City, currently living in San Mateo. My fiancé and I have an 18-month-old daughter and making sure we have local public schools is important to me.

    There is a group of people working to change the direction of San Mateo County. I am running for Supervisor of San Mateo County, District 2. It consists of most of San Mateo, Foster City and Belmont. I am a write-in candidate. My name must be written down in the District 2 spot.

    There is a man from Pacifica, Dan Stegink, running for the District 3 seat. If we can mix up the Board with some new blood and ways of thinking I think the community in general will benefit.

    Mark Melville is running for Sheriff, which is a county wide election.

    If you have any questions for me feel free to send me an email (StognerForSupervisor@gmail.com) and good luck with Fair Oaks Elementary.

    Talk to your friends and family.

    Register to vote.

    • I was a teacher at Fair Oaks School some years ago and I agree 100% with William that the District has been run like a fiefdom for years. No doubt exists in my mind that shedding a low performing school like Fair Oaks from its “portfolio ” has long been a not so secret agenda item. No question in my mind that stakeholders have not been democratically included in the discourse or decision making. I hope parents do not give be up the fight. The Board and Superintendent musn’t be allowed to hide behind false rhetoric when true equality in education for children from all socioeconomic and language backgrounds is at stake. And no, Charter Schools are not a good place for your children. If they were, the students from Roy Cloud would be transferring over to them. They are not. Charter Schools are merely part of a two tiered educational system- one for the rich and the other for the poor. Good luck Parents of Fair Oaks!

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