The lines have been drawn and the boundaries approved.
Oakdale Joint Unified School District board members had their work cut out for them on Monday evening, as they were called to review as well as decide on the School Boundary Study put before them. By a vote of four to one, Option 1 – primarily rezoning incoming students residing in the east end of the Bridle Ridge subdivision – was the final vote. Board member Mike House was the dissenting vote on that option, voicing his support instead for Option 2.
Students currently enrolled in Oakdale schools will not be affected by the change, but rather will be ‘grandfathered in’ to their current school (unless under transfer status). Those residing in the areas affected by the study not yet enrolled in Oakdale schools will be assigned to their new designated school for the 2016-2017 school year. Younger siblings not yet enrolled in Oakdale schools will not be privy to the ‘grandfathering.’ Map details of the new areas may be viewed at the District office or on their website www.ojusd.org.
Oakdale Joint Unified Superintendent of Schools Marc Malone reviewed the Boundary Study report prepared for the district by SchoolWorks. The report was first presented to the board during the February board meeting and then again during a Public Forum, where community members were encouraged to attend and share their viewpoints. Upon completion of the review OJUSD Board President Tina Shatswell opened the floor for public comment on the topic.
Angela Hunter, a Fair Oaks mom, shared her thoughts both as a parent as well as a Data Analyst by profession.
“Professionally, when I look at this data, Option 2 is the more favorable option to create balance,” she stated, noting economic, ESL and head count balance as key points of her thought. “But, I know that not everybody is going to be happy with that option. There’s always going to be families that are going to struggle with this and so as a mother, my recommendation is to allow our siblings, our families to stay together. To be grandfathered in to the school where their siblings are attending. I know as a mother that my child has needs to be with his siblings. There is not much I can do about that other than request placement for my son or to request families stay together through this transition.”
Several other parents approached the board echoing the viewpoint of Hunter, each in favor of Option 2, each stressing the focus of keeping families together.
Each of the board members addressed the group as well as one another as they shared their viewpoints, as well as the responsibility they felt in being trusted with such a significant decision.
Board member Barbara Shook addressed the group first, making mention of e-mails received as well as reflection made as she weighed the two options.
“I believe our data is sound,” Shook said. “I think that the person that we had really pulling all that data out and looking at it, is someone who’s tried and true. I think the information is accurate.”
Board member Mike House also spoke to the group, noting that as a parent he once struggled with a similar circumstance, as his children were once split during year-round track system schooling.
“I can appreciate your angst there,” he said to the audience. “I understand that it is better to keep your family together, but that creates other logistical problems. If we keep the families together, why are we even here tonight? We need to make changes, because Fair Oaks is impacted.”
He went on to thank those that chose to take the podium.
“I do appreciate you coming,” he said. “I want you to know that we have heard you and we appreciate how gutsy it is to come and stand and talk. I know how difficult that is and I appreciate what you have done in coming here tonight.”
“I lived through the track system as well,” President Shatswell said. “It was difficult as you said, because they weren’t in school together. We really hear you because we’ve had children in this district.”
Those with children attending now and looking to kindergarten registration are the ones concerned the most.
Shatswell also said there are procedures to keep kids in the same family together.
“I’m sure most of you know or I hope you do. Not that it’s something you want to do (relocate existing students), but when you say you want to keep your children together ... they can all stay together,” Shatswell explained. “I know some kids don’t want to leave their friends, but I’m hoping you’re aware you can move all of your children so they can all be together at the school. It’s not an easy thing to do, but it is an option.”
“When my children were young the district changed boundaries,” House added. “We were going to Cloverland at the time and they moved my children to Fair Oaks, all of them and I felt a little jerked around. Looking back, I think the experience was more painful for my wife and I than it ultimately was for our children. They’re very resilient. They made new friends. When they got to junior high they renewed old friendships. Don’t lose hope. Don’t let your emotions run away with you because of what happens.”
Other agenda items included approval of the Facilities Committee Recommendations which will include improvements to the OJHS Cafeteria, development of the school farm on Brady Road, replacing of field turf in the OHS Stadium and seeking of a long term lease to the Youth Building for use as an OHS Band/Choir Annex Room.
The March meeting was called to order promptly at 6:30 p.m. on Monday night. Prior to the start of the meeting the Pledge of Allegiance was led by Cloverland students Adele Usrey, Amarissa Blanco, Jackson Abell and Robert Bordona.