Oakdale High School won’t be seeing a closed campus in its near future.
Oakdale Joint Unified Assistant Superintendent Larry Mendonca offered an in depth report at the school board meeting earlier this month noting a variety of viable reasons to remain an open campus.
“We have not had a situation where the open campus privilege has needed to be revoked,” Mendonca stated.
According to the Assistant Superintendent, board policy distinguishes open campus as a privilege which may be revoked for disciplinary action.
Mendonca also stated there wasn’t a history of formal complaints regarding student conduct in the community during the lunch period when students go off campus. He made note of calls mostly concerning student driving and a continued partnership with Oakdale Police Department, by way of monitoring this offense.
“The general feeling is there’s a continued rationale to afford students this ability to continue to demonstrate responsibility,” he said.
Exploring the opposite side of the coin, Mendonca shared with the board, as well as the audience the changes that would need to be put into effect to accommodate lunch service for 1600 students. Breaking the lunch period to two separate periods was noted as one option. In doing this, however, a large number of teachers would then not be accessible for lunch time office hours. That availability is utilized by many students. On campus noise level would also be a factor and potentially disruptive to students in class session during the opposite lunch period.
“We also have to acknowledge there would also be an adverse effect economically on local businesses,” Mendonca said. “They really rely on that student business.”
The current kitchen area of the OHS cafeteria is 1,000 square feet. According to cafeteria staff, they serve up to 200 students daily. The dining area was reported to be 2,000 square feet and can seat 157 students. Both noted as not nearly large enough to accommodate half of the student body if the campus were to be closed.
The cost of expansion of the kitchen, as well as the dining hall, not to mention the staffing, is not currently viewed as a necessary expenditure by the district, given the details and facts.
“I’m very proud of the fact that we have students who have demonstrated they can handle it,” Mendonca said of the open campus. “Not that that situation is perfect, but we definitely have not had any kind of huge instance that has caused significant complaints from the community.”