On March 12 and 13 the Santa Clara Unified School District (SCUSD) invited parents and community members to gatherings to discuss the creation of new schools at the Agnews Campus with site work currently underway, and the resulting redrawing of the district’s school boundaries. The well-attended meeting held at Don Callejon K-8 School, featured a presentation by Tony Ferruzzo, senior consultant with Decision Institute, an enrollment impact specialist firm that’s assisting with the boundary re-drawing process along with the Agnews Boundary Advisory Committee consisting of parents, teachers, school staff, principals and district staff.
In addition to the meetings, the school district created an online community forum called Thoughtexchange designed to allow parents to weigh in on what the new school boundaries should be — a decision to be ultimately made by the SCUSD Board of Trustees in May, influenced by stakeholder input. The redrawing of the lines is being undertaken with the district’s anticipated growth in mind, as three new schools are being constructed on the Agnews Campus at 3500 Zanker Road in San Jose.
“There’s a lot of attachment to the schools that you invest in, and we see that,” said Andrew Lucia, assistant SCUSD superintendent, to parents at the March 13 meeting. “We recognize that you passionately love your schools, and, at the same, time we have to make some changes to support the boundary lines of the schools at Agnews.”
Work is already underway at the Agnews Campus that will furnish three additional schools for a total of 30 schools in the district. The new elementary and middle schools are slated for occupancy in August 2020 while the high school will be ready by August 2022. These schools will help meet demand created by the building of thousands of new homes in the area. A report by Decision Institute indicates that for 2019 there are 95 new students generated by proposed residential development. For 2020, 146 additional students will be attending district schools, 525 in 2022 and by 2028 that number is projected to be 1,420.
The March community meetings allowed parents a chance to discuss some of the boundary proposals as well as demo the Thoughtexchange forum, which can be accessed at the Thoughtexchange webpage on the SCUSD website. Anticipating that many parents wouldn’t be able to attend the in-person meetings, the district has posted the Community Conversation Presentation given by Ferruzzo online, which contains heavily detailed slides about the various school boundary scenarios along with information about the process.
“The first set of the slides really set the stage for how much time and energy the district has put into having a process that is as inclusive as possible by creating a very large committee made up of parents and teachers, classified staff and district staff, and also to be at a point where we can bring this information to you as a community,” Ferruzzo said.
The criteria for reconfiguring the school boundaries involves adhering to prior Board of Trustee policies on adjusting school boundaries, balancing enrollment by utilizing five and 10-year geographic area projections, minimizing the number of students affected by the changes, maximizing neighborhood school attendance where possible, optimizing safe walking distances and safe bus routes.
For the most part, the various scenarios presented were broken down between elementary, middle and high schools, though one of the elementary school scenarios included a K-8 school. The middle school scenario chosen will also determine whether Don Callejon is a K-8 or a K-5 school. Four different scenarios were offered for the elementary school boundaries, three for middle school boundaries and two scenarios for the high schools. Maps showing the various boundary options accompany the presentation.
The Thoughtexchange forum allows community members to share their thoughts about the proposals, offer feedback on others’ thoughts and stay up-to-date on the process — it will be open until March 25.