Louis Milani Elementary School

FAQs

Why are you choosing a short-term (3 year) solution instead of a long term solution such as building a new 1000-1200 student school?

Merging the attendance areas of Bunker and Milani is not a short-term solution. We will complete the merger, and in addition, build an additional school. The merger will be permanent and evaluations may be conducted for other potential school mergers as growth warrants.

 

Why these two campuses?

The close proximity of the two campuses, where we have immediate need due to new housing construction,  lends itself to this configuration.  Such configurations are becoming more common.  For example, schools in San Mateo, San Jose, Fremont, Rohnert Park and elsewhere have such models.

 

What will this change provide for our students?

By attending elementary schools with a narrow span of grades, students will benefit from increased opportunities for teacher collaboration, more efficient use of resources, and the sites’ greater abilities to tailor programs to the developmental levels of students. Another key point presented by the builders in our community is something that we have struggled with for years, which is both the advantage and disadvantage of a "smaller " school district. Many families want choice for their students and more educational options.  One of the goals is to provide choice and additional opportunities for educational experiences for our students and families. 

 

Why are we hearing about a K-8 School?

Discussions have included, but were not limited to, K-8,  IB (International Baccalaureate), and Magnet Schools to provide options for students and parents.  This is one of the reasons we are exploring a K-8 school, a discussion that the Board and staff are having for the long term well-being of the entire district.  The board has made no decision regarding a K-8 school.  You may have heard Lincoln mentioned, but this was only because the principal has professional experience in moving a former elementary school to a K-8 model.  It is an idea, among many, that is being considered as a way to provide options in a "one Junior High School," "one Senior High School" district.

 

Will funding be lost as a result of the merger?

No funding will be lost as a result of the merger.

 

What is the plan for 6th Grade Students?

Sixth grade students will be at Milani along with the third through fifth grades. 

 

Are students leaving Bunker?

According to our Coordinator of Student Services, there are no students who have left Bunker. Bunker is near capacity.  Obviously, families will have a decision to make. We would love to encourage people to be part of the process in making the merger of these two school boundaries a great opportunity.

 

How many students have left Bunker since this decision?

Below are the numbers district wide of intra-district transfers in and out of NUSD.  Typical districts want to be close to equal...meaning the same number in as out.  We have improved in that goal over the years.

The district does have an open enrollment policy so, on a space available basis, students can transfer between schools. On a space available basis the district has open enrollment to any and all of our schools.

 

What are the total Inter-district transfers into and out of NUSD for the last year?

The Inter-district transfers into and out of NUSD for the last years have improved as follows:

2012-13

Entering 123 - Leaving  230

2013-14

Entering 106 - Leaving  207

2014-15

Entering 170 - Leaving  205

2015-16

Entering 175 - Leaving  153

 

What will happen to Bunker’s excellent API Scores?

API scores are null and void.  There has not been an API score for three years.  SBAC has replaced this score.  This year’s scores for every district in the State give a baseline.  In addition, scores will be calculated on a variety of items, not just one score on one day.

 

Will Milani still be in Program Improvement?

No. When the schools are reconfigured into TK-2 (primary)  and 3-6 (intermediate), the Bunker Intermediate campus will not receive Title I funds from the federal government and will therefore not be subject to the sanctions of Title I Program Improvement.

 

Is this move simply to bring the scores up at Milani?

No, the goal is for all students to be successful. At all of our schools our English language learners have issues with a test given in English.  It is not an issue of “smart” vs. “not smart”....once students become proficient in English….data shows they perform similarly.

In the chart below EL stands for English Language Learners and EP stands for English proficient. The Y axis is the average performance level of students.

How does combining Bunker and Milani and splitting the grades create more space?

At this time, Bunker Elementary is full, while seven classrooms remain available on the Milani campus.  While the Timber development is bisected by the current attendance boundary, the remaining development along Cedar and on Birch that are currently underway are entirely within the current Bunker attendance zone.  Adjusting the grade level configuration will allow all the classrooms on both campuses to be utilized without further boundary shifts between the campuses that would cause students to be split from within existing grade-level cohorts. 

 

Why not just leave the schools' configurations the same, but send new/incoming students within both school areas to either school that has available space without splitting the grades? Have you considered returning students on intra-district travel transfers (those living in the attendance areas of other NUSD schools) to their neighborhood schools to create the needed space for those moving into the Bunker area? 

We would like to provide space at Bunker to both students who are moving into the area and those who have been granted intra-district transfers. We do not think it is appropriate that families purchasing homes in the Bunker attendance area be overflowed to other sites. We work hard each year to minimize the number of students who must be overflowed and do not want to create a situation in which we would expect to overflow large numbers of students each year.

 

 Is there a less disruptive solution?

The District has looked at many alternatives and believes this solution to be the least disruptive for students across all grade levels at both school sites and the best option educationally.  For instance, the District could return all intra-district transfer students to their home schools and change the attendance boundaries in the southern region of the district.

 

Why are you not listening to the parents and forcing this decision on us?

The District is holding a series of community forums that afford parents the opportunity to provide input on the merger.  Two forums have been held, September 24th and 25th.  Two more forums will be held on October 15th and 16th.  Approximately 70 parents participated on September 24th and 25th and contributed many positive responses and suggestions regarding the merger.

 

Why are you disregarding the 271 signatures parents received against this decision?

The District is not disregarding the signatures. We have heard from many parents who are in favor of the merger. Community forums have been held to provide parents’ opportunities to express their opinions.

 

Why are you not holding a Town meeting and allow parent dialogue?

We believe that structured opportunities to give/get information and to problem solve solutions are much more effective in a setting conducive to problem solving.  Two community forums have been held; September 24th and 25th with two more are scheduled for October 15th and 16th.

 

Where is the evidence that supports this idea or whether this plan has merit at all?

Please refer to the information on the bottom of this document.

 

We, as parents of children attending a program improvement school (Graham), have the right to transfer our children to a school within the district that is not on program improvement status.  Are you prepared for the influx of parents requesting that their children be transferred? How is that going to be handled?

Families in schools designated as Program Improvement are entitled to transfer their students to non-Program Improvement schools within the district on a space available basis. We typically have very few families who apply for transfers for this reason. We have and will continue to accommodate these families.

 

Why do you have to split grades in order to merge?  You are splitting my children into two campuses.

We do not need to split grades to merge. However, after consideration of available options, we determined that the option most aligned with our priorities and values was to join the boundaries of the two schools, allowing us to keep all current students and welcome those new to the school.

It is a split, agreed.  The decision was thoughtful and deliberate. Schools have a variety of configurations.  These configurations are often for a variety of reasons.  For example, K-8 is often considered for space reasons….also for options for parents who do not desire a middle/junior high configuration.

There are elementary schools with K-3, 4-6; There are even schools with K-1 at one school, 2-3 at a different school and 4-5 at a third.

 

Are there schools that have close proximity and space issues but chose not to merge and why?

Typically, school districts configurations are predicated on the needs and priorities of the district.

 

Why not a first come-first serve basis?

First-come-first-serve would create a new set of issues.  For intra-district it would require that we return students at Bunker to their home school to their home schools to allow more room.

 

What will the longer term impact be for this short-term solution?

It is not a short term solution.  It is not intended to be a short term solution. There would be no reason to change the configuration.  For example, if we decide to implement an existing elementary school to a K-8 configuration, we would keep that configuration.

 

Milani has had four Principals in four years. Why is there is unusual turnover of principals in Milani?

Dr. Lakimbre Brown, who had been the principal at Milani for four years, had a great opportunity to lead a group of schools in Washington D.C. and asked for a year leave of absence.  It was granted, and we placed an Interim Principal at Milani for a year.  Our interim principal took a permanent position in a neighboring school district for the following year.  Then, Dr. Brown, decided to remain in D.C.  We posted the position and hired a principal, who, after a year, accepted a position in a neighboring district.  At that point we moved a phenomenally talented principal, Cathreene Ingham-Watters, who is strong and will have a positive influence and long career in NUSD.  She has taught and been a principal in NUSD for over a decade.

 

If all schools are so good, why do some board member’s kids and some NUSD staff members’ kids transfer out of their home school area and attend Bunker?

Staff members and Board members have the same rights as other Newark citizens who have children in the Newark Unified School District, with regard to the utilization of the intra-district transfer process.  The District does not require disclosure of reasons on intra-district transfer requests, beyond the information necessary to classify requests by type of transfer, and declines to speculate with regard to reasons. 

 

If this plan is so great, show us why. Can you please share the data point you have gathered, provide us references to studies that show the split school approach?

IDEAS CONSIDERED AND REJECTED BY EXECUTIVE CABINET:

—Add portables to Bunker

-$150K per portable to prep & set up

-Purchase price $65K-$85K (2010 cr/rr) or $90K-$120K (2013c)

-$6K (CR) – $15K (RR) (2010c) annual lease

-SFPUC Water Line blocks much of campus from being usable for adding classrooms

-Loss of remaining play space

—Declare Bunker impacted; revoke all intra-district transfers

-Disruptive to the grade level cohorts

-Students pulled from relationships they’ve established and start over at new school site

—Utilize available classrooms at Milani by redistricting

-Current boundary 1 block from Bunker

-Redrawing would either remove Bunker and its neighbors from its own feeder pattern OR gerrymander new residents to pass through the Bunker feeder pattern to get to Milani

 

DISTRICT PROPOSAL

—Utilize available classrooms at Milani with grade level reconfiguration

-Allowing all current students to remain (including those on intra-district transfers)

-Allowing for greater grade level collaboration as there will now be at least 3-5 sections of each grade level on a campus

-Allowing the district to balance the utilization of the two available school sites south of the train tracks to accommodate the growth, regardless of grade level of students who come in

-Uses existing assets most efficiently, saving over $1,000,000 in setup costs plus annual savings of $57,000 per portable (2010 code, higher with 2013 code portables) while a few blocks away classrooms are empty.

 

Why can’t we follow the Fremont School model (New development has to build new schools to accommodate them in home school district otherwise the schools are unassigned for new development. This was passed recently)?

Fremont has a variety of configurations.  One of the configurations includes a K-3 and 3-6 configuration in the Leitch / Warm Springs attendance area.  We are following one of the Fremont models in bringing forward the TK-2 and 3-6 grade-level configuration model for the Bunker / Milani attendance area.

However, Fremont neither requires new developments to build schools nor leaves schools as unassigned for new development.  Fremont assesses alternative Level II Developer Fees, which are higher than the Level I Fees that Newark currently assesses.  With those funds, Fremont has added temporary housing and continues to work toward adding permanent housing for students.  Fremont has implemented a boundary adjustment between the Weibel and Leitch / Warm Springs attendance zones to address its growth needs.  Fremont also overflows and moves students in its impacted attendance areas several miles to a different school as needed.

 

Share the numbers for new growth? How many out of Newark have come to Bunker and how many Students left Bunker not the sixth graders leaving but Kids moving away from NUSD school system?

We have commissioned a new demographic study.  The last one was three years ago.  Much has changed.  What we do know is that over the next several years, AT THIS POINT, over 4,600 new homes will be built.  The entire city of Newark has just over 14,000 homes.  That is almost a 35% increase.

 

Is the process transparent and open?

The District is facilitating multiple parent meetings, creating committees made up of Milani and Bunker parents, and publishing parent questions and responses on the District website.  The District will also provide an update to the Board of Trustees at a future Board meeting.

 

If schools are being split why take away the name of Milani, why can’t Milani be called Milani instead of Bunker Intermediate what is the reason behind getting rid of identity?

Our hope is to foster consistency and continuity.  However, if there is a desire is to keep the Milani name, that would be fine.  Parents have been given the opportunity to provide input at the community forums regarding the names of the two schools.  No determination has been made at this point.

 

Bunker is a bigger School than Milani why not keep the higher grades in Bunker? (3,4,5 and 6) as opposed to TK, K, 1 and 2?

There are smaller class sizes at grades TK-3, currently at 24:1.  This requires more classrooms to address a grade level cohort than in the higher grades where class sizes are 31:1. 

 

Where did the money from Ruschin School sale go to? How are we using to upgrade our schools along with $4/sqft money that NUSD is getting from new developers?

The Board has not yet voted on an expenditure plan with regard to the proceeds from the sale of Ruschin Elementary School.  We currently only have a small portion of the purchase price.  The developers have not even begun demolition.  The funds that have come in are accounted for in fund 40, the Special Reserve for Capital Outlay. 

The Level 1 Developer Fees being generated by the new construction have begun coming into fund 25, the Capital Facilities Fund.  The funds generated by level 1 fees will not cover the cost of constructing a new elementary school.  The City has an agreement with one of the developers in Area 3 to dedicate nine acres of land for a park and school.  The funds generated are to be used to address growth across all grade levels, not just elementary schools, so as our facilities for all students face increased demand due to the growth, the funds will be utilized to address those needs.

 

To which school will my children attend?

At this time, the Bunker site will have students in grades TK through 2, and the Milani site will have students in grades 3 through 6.

Questions and Answers from the Community Planning Meeting #3

Can a City Council Member attend one of these meetings, or can the district post City Council Meetings?

The Newark City Council meetings are on the second and fourth Thursday of each month at 7:30 p.m. in the City Council Chamber, 37101 Newark Boulevard. The Newark Planning Commission, which reviews and takes action on certain planning applications and makes recommendations to the City Council on land use issues, meets on the 2nd and 4th Tuesdays of each month at 7:30 p.m. in the City Administration Building, 37101 Newark Boulevard, 6th Floor, Newark.

 

Traffic!!!  I am very concerned about the increased traffic flow through the neighborhood.  Please address!

We have taken steps to addressed increased traffic. The Cohesion Team has considered parent and staff input and made recommendations to the Board. Current plans include:

  1. We have requested that the City of Newark provide a 4-way stop sign and a crossing guard at Birch and Robertson.
  2. We are planning to put a back gate with a paved walkway across the field at Milani so that parents have rear access to the Milani campus.
  3. We are working with the City to create street-side drop off areas in front of Milani on Birch and to create a separate parking area for Milani staff on the south side of the Milani campus so that the 30 spaces in the current Milani staff parking lot will be for parents and guests.

Is there a reason why we aren't waiting a year? I feel we should be totally ironed out with plans and not be rushing.

Substantial work has been done and the Executive Planning Team for the merger recommends moving forward with the merger for  the 2016-17 school year.

 

How many students are projected to come to the Bunker area for the 2016-17 school year?

There is no projected increase in the number of students to the Bunker area for the 2016-17 school year. The Executive Planning Team recommends that the merger should be completed prior to the anticipated increase.

 

 

Comment from Community Planning Meeting #3

 

Postpone at least a year for better planning.