October 8, 2015
Dear OBE Families,
I'd like to take an opportunity to address some specific questions that have been raised this week regarding our low enrollment. I feel it is important to share with you the answers you are seeking. I want to assure you the Neighborhood Schools and Enrollment Options office followed California Education Code and district policy and procedure in the processing of all CHOICE applications. The Neighborhood Schools and Enrollment Options Department was highly responsive to our enrollment needs by immediately releasing all wait list names upon my request.
FAQs regarding the change in staffing
1) How many families applied to attend OBE via CHOICE?
35 families applied for OBE as their first Choice. All 35 are attending OBE.
2) Why were letters sent from the District to families who had CHOICED into OB in 2014-2015 to tell them they now needed to go to their neighborhood schools?
No letters were sent to existing CHOICE pupils. Only new applicants received letters. The only scenario where a currently enrolled pupil would receive a letter would be if they moved out of the attendance area in the prior school year or if they moved out of district and then applied via CHOICE to remain at the school per district enrollment policy.
3) Why were children who had attended the preschool at OBE turned away from enrolling in Kindergarten at OBE?
Out of 25 preschool students, 16 enrolled at OBE. The other 9 chose to attend different schools. No preschool families who applied to attend OBE were turned away.
4) What about the new 180 unit apartment building being built on the old Barnard site? What happens if they want to attend OBE?
The district has been in contact with the developer. It is located in the Loma Portal boundary, not the OBE boundary. The district will factor in projected numbers of students and the impact on local schools. Residents of the new apartment building may apply to attend OBE through CHOICE but aren’t guaranteed placement.
5) Why is our kindergarten enrollment so low this year?
We are investigating this issue with the district demographer. The most current data doesn’t show a spike in local students choosing another school. The initial data appears to show fewer kinder age students in our boundary. Please refer to my letter on the OBE website on the principal's message page to see the data.
6) What is the plan for students transitioning to their new classes and when will it occur?
I have a solid and strategic plan that seeks to minimize disruptions to the fullest extent possible. Every effort will be made to ensure the least number of changes will be made. Any change will be the result of careful consideration and staff collaboration. There will be a few classrooms that do not change at all and others with just a few changes. Teachers will work to make the change a positive one and will welcome any new students enthusiastically. All our teachers are united in ensuring as smooth a transition as possible. Students will meet their new teachers on Friday, October 16th and line up with their new classrooms on Monday, October 19th.
In conclusion, I want to emphasize there was no mishandling of CHOICE applications by the district staff. Several factors contributed to our lower enrollment this year including but not limited to the following:
· 7 students choosing to attend new charters
· A significant number of families moved out of the neighborhood last school year.
· A decrease in new enrollees during the last school year.
· This fall approximately 20 k-4 students CHOICED to different schools.
· 9 preschool students also CHOICED elsewhere.
· A significant decrease in walk in fall enrollment.
· Decrease of approximately 70 school age children residing in our boundary.
At this time I ask you to support our efforts at a smooth transition. Our teachers are eager to move forward and focus their energy on students and learning. I thank you for your continued support.
Mr. Marco Drapeau
Ocean Beach Elementary