Menlo Park mayor proposes having Sequoia High School District absorb Ravenswood district

Ravenswood City School District headquarters at 2120 Euclid Ave. in East Palo Alto
Ravenswood City School District headquarters at 2120 Euclid Ave. in East Palo Alto

This story was originally printed in the March 6 edition of the Daily Post.

BY EMILY MIBACH
Daily Post Staff Writer

A proposal by Menlo Park Mayor Ray Mueller to have the Sequoia Union High School District absorb the troubled Ravenswood City School District received a warm reception last night from the Menlo Park City Council, which agreed to study the idea.

The idea, which surfaced publicly only yesterday, would have the Sequoia district — with four comprehensive high schools — take over the Ravenswood K-8 district that serves 2,600 students in East Palo Alto and east Menlo Park.

Ravenswood has seven traditional schools and two charters. Its enrollment has been falling for years because parents, who are concerned over low academic performance, have been withdrawing their kids. State funding is based on enrollment, and with the exodus of students, Ravenswood has been forced to cut its budget. Last year, the district had to cut $5 million in spending. Other families have also been moving out of the area because of the high costs of living.

Helping kids before they get to high school

Mueller pointed out that historically, when Ravenswood students go from middle school to high school, they are behind their peers who attended other elementary school districts that feed into the high school district.

“It would allow for some programs to be created to address that issue,” Mueller said.

Mueller said the time is right to consider this move since Ravenswood lacks a superintendent.

Last Wednesday (Feb. 26), the Ravenswood school board put superintendent Gloria Hernandez-Goff on paid administrative leave. On Thursday (Feb. 27), it named Student Services Director Gina Sudaria as the acting superintendent.

Councilwoman Cecilia Taylor said during the campaign that she attended Ravenswood schools and has commented in the past that if she had children, she would would not send them to schools in that district.

Study session planned

Mueller said he anticipates that the council will hold a study session on the topic and invite people from the two school districts and East Palo Alto to discuss the idea.

Merging the districts would require approval by the boards of both districts and by county and state education officials.

Mueller has previously tried to work with East Palo Alto’s council and the Ravenswood district to create a joint powers authority (JPA) to help fund repairs and improving facilities at the schools.

However, he said last night that he could never get the JPA going because there was never enough stability in the school district to get the JPA up and running.

Followup planned

The Post reached out to officials in both school districts on Wednesday and here’s their reaction.

5 Comments

  1. Oh no, does this mean that Ravenswood Board Members and superintendents won’t be able to put their relatives on the payroll anymore? Watch for the Ravenswood board to fight this with everything they’ve got.

  2. Why the high school district? Perhaps the proposal received a “warm reception last night from the Menlo Park City Council” because it didn’t propose the more logical merger of Ravenswood and Menlo Park City school districts. (I’m not advocating that, but I’m just saying.)
    The proposed merger of Ravenswood with any other public school district doesn’t solve the core problems and generally poor examples that many dysfunctional families set for their children. Just look at the objective facts behind the various transitions that Ravenswood underwent during the 50’s, 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s. It’s NOT funding. It’s NOT equality. It’s NOT equity. The poor core value systems of many families lead to this.

  3. Menlo Park is once again trying to distance themself from the east side of their city. This is the same thing that happened in 1999 when the Menlo Park Historical Association board of directors wanted to remove parts of Menlo Park history from a book Mr. Svanevik was writing. The Menlo Park History board tried to have Jews who played an early roll in Menlo Park history and the conversion of Belle Haven from white to primarily African American in the 1950s.

  4. Didn’t the Sequoia Union High School District close East Palo Alto’s Ravenswood High School in the mid-70s? Why would anybody in East Palo Alto trust Sequoia with their schools again, after that?

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