Starting in early December leading all the way to the end January, the Oak Grove School District has been under review for the closure for three to five public elementary schools. The main cause of these school closures is the decrease in enrollment. I have attended three out of five board meetings and school consolidation regarding the topic. I learned about these events through my offsite advisor, an expert on the education, who I met every other week.
The meetings were held at a different locations each time and would start at around 5 and end at 8 on a weeknight. Forums were usually held in large auditoriums or gyms that could parents from each school. During these forums, volunteer parents, student, faculty, and other affiliates were given a minute and a half to speak about their case in attempt to save their schools. Parents from schools including Frost, Baldwin, Glider, Oak Ridge, Santa Teresa, Anderson, Miner, Sakamoto, and Del Roble showed up and sat on the bleachers holding posters advocating to keep their school open. Arguments brought up by volunteer speakers included special needs services offered at certain schools, diversity of schools, and the intimacy of the friendships at schools that would be ruined if closed.
For the first meeting on December 4th, The entire gym was full. I, along with other parents, was unable to squeeze myself into the gym. Speakers were extremely passionate and some even shed tears. A few news channels attended to broadcast parts of the forum and interviewed parents and faculty including abc7 and NBC Bay Area. (Links to the articles from these news networks will be provided at the bottom)
I took this photo at the door of the gym because I was unable to fit, but I was able to hear most of what was being said. This event was held at Bernal Intermediate School.
The second forum I attended at Edenvale Community Center on December 18th was far less crowded. Arguments were repetitive, but the passion was still very apparent.
The third meeting I attended was a closed Board of Trustees meeting at the Oak Grove District Board Room Representatives for parents and the committee were present to talk about concerns moving forward. Discussions were held regarding how students would be moved around the district, the transportation routes of school buses, and the trends that led to the need of school closures.
The fourth and final meeting I attended was at Leonard Herman intermediate School on January 31st. This was the last opportunity for parents to make their voices heard. Like any other forum, speakers were given a set amount of time to speak and the committee would listen and make decisions based on that. This meeting in particular was the most interesting for me.
The committee spoke a lot and I felt transparency finally became more of a priority. They spoke about the defunding on a state level of 1.2 million dollars from three schools. As much as they tried to keep the schools open, it seemed like the only option. Some committee members were open about the fact that they never dealt with school closures. The main topic in this meeting was the debate between closing two schools and closing three schools. The two schools that were likely to be closed were Sakamoto and Oak Grove. The arguments made for closing three schools was that the property could be leased out and translated into revenue and operations. The argument for closing two schools was mostly for the good and needs of parents and students. In attempt to help with the main issue which has been a decrease in enrollment, the committee talked about their future attempts to increase appeal for their school by adding programs and student motivation.
parents (left), committee members (right)
Parents of Sakamoto and Oak Grove students
The official decision has yet to be made and the official debate is still between closing two schools and closing three schools. The question to be posed for now is what do you think will happen from here? For now, I will be reading up on documents regarding school closures and the causes/effects of them.
Oak Grove School District debates closing schools in San Jose
Elementary schools on the chopping block in San Jose
NBC Bay Area Articles
San Jose District to Close Three Elementary Schools Effective in the Fall
Officials Mull Closing Some South San Jose Elementary Schools