Tuesday night’s School Board meeting was an interesting one, mainly because a lot of the agenda items that have provided platforms for some Board Members to speechify and attempt to grow her base by stirring up divisiveness in the past turned out to be ones where the public either were happy with the work the School District had done or that the leadership had told their community to simply allow the process to work itself out.
The two issues were, of course, the Wood Middle School restructuring and the ACLC Prop 39 facilities offer. The Wood Middle School community brought out their supporters en masse to say “support our program by giving us the space to make it really work!” And ACLC’s leadership asked their community to stay at home and allow the Prop 39 long term lease negotiations happen between staff instead of making it some big public to-do.
One thing that happened during this discussion — and a discussion about the Academy of Alameda’s charter renewal — was a reflection by Board Member Mike McMahon that there is a lot of choice that exists right now in the middle school range in Alameda. That with the creation of all this choice, the schools serving the 6th – 8th grade students are really battling for the same 750 (ish) students and that a better idea would be to try to style Alameda in Pleasanton’s model where their needs grow for those grades because people move to Pleasanton as their second home meaning that their kids are older.
But I know that in addition to having a lower number of kids in general, I think there is a perception that Alameda Unified — charters and all — offerings for Middle School are not as strong as they could be. Perhaps this is the case or maybe it is just perception, but anecdotally I know that we can all point to a few families that feel comfortable with elementary school offerings but choose to send the kids else where for those Middle School years. Perhaps what Alameda Unified needs to do is to host an open house for all Middle School offerings in Alameda can present at so that parents and kids can know what is out there and what learning style works best for them. During the Academy of Alameda presentation, there was a mention that it was difficult for AoA to get kids from the closest elementary school (Ruby Bridges) to even visit for a tour, so maybe a huge roundup like the ones for college recruitment or summer camp would be helpful so that Alameda students understand what their options are. Because Mike McMahon is absolutely right, there are a lot of options, and given that only three of the schools are attendance zone limited, there are choices.
So here are the 6th – 8th grade schools that are limited by attendance zone:
- Wood (however because Wood is in PI, students can opt to be diverted to other schools not in PI, so Lincoln, but that’s over enrolled, and I guess Bay Farm)
- Bay Farm (This one I’m a bit unclear as because I believe the 6th-8th program is a magnet which technically shouldn’t be attendance zone limited)
Here are the charters, no attendance zone limitation:
- Academy of Alameda
Here is the magnet:
- Junior Jets at Encinal
And let’s not forget that there are still the private schools in Alameda with the 6th-8th grade offerings as well too.
I think that if AUSD can help end the perception that the middle school choices in Alameda are some how not the right “fit” for students who were perfectly well served in elementary school there would be more than enough students to make all of these programs successful instead of battling over a limited number of kids.