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About this blog: I am a native of Alameda County, grew up in Pleasanton and currently live in the house I grew up in that is more than 100 years old. I spent 39 years in the daily newspaper business and wrote a column for more than 25 years in add...  (More)

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Pleasanton schools facing the challenge of declining enrollment

Uploaded: Mar 15, 2016
Responding to the commentator who observed that I was out-spoken against a third comprehensive high school. I sure hope I was.
What we have been seeing for about a decade in Pleasanton is a large bubble of students going through the pipeline. To accommodate “the bubble” requires wise planning to design flexible facilities to accommodate the large number without creating facilities that will be empty in a few years. That’s why, when tapping into state money, one of the prior requirements was half portable classrooms so districts were not stuck with empty facilities after students moved through.
Pleasanton, in my memory, has never closed a school and only sold two surplus sites over the years. By contrast, both Livermore (four) and Dublin (one) have closed school sites that could not be used. In the rapidly growing San Ramon Valley district, the challenge for school administrators is that all of the growth—other than neighborhoods turning over—is in the southeast quadrant while the schools with room are located in the north end of the district.
In the 2013-14 school year (the last year the state web site has information listed), the smallest enrollment for Pleasanton was in the first grade, with kindergarten and 2nd grade the next two lowest. Each was 250-300 students below the equivalent classes in high school.
Those trends are worrisome because declining enrollment means declining money. Much of Pleasanton’s enrollment growth in the last decade has come from neighborhoods transitioning (long-time empty nesters selling to younger families with children). Some of that will continue, but it likely will slow down (the city approved and developers built a lot of homes in the 1960s-1990s before residential growth slowed).
It remains to be seen how student enrollment will be affected by the new apartment complexes being built all over town. We will know more in the next couple of years—typically apartments do not attract that many families, but the combination of well-regarded public schools, a great lifestyle and high housing costs may encourage families to choose the rentals.
NOTE TO WRITER: Yes, my wife has taught throughout her career at Amador Valley (we are second generation Amador family—our daughter graduated from there as well). A third high school likely would have had minimal effect on teacher compensation—it e is primarily a capital expenditure. There is certainly an operating cost (utilities, administration and support staff) but that is minor compared to the cost of teachers.

Comments

 +   4 people like this
Posted by Foothill dad, a resident of Foothill Knolls,
on Mar 15, 2016 at 11:30 am

It's not just demographics...we pulled both our children out of Foothill high and put them in a private school because of PUSD's out-of-control homework load. The tipping point was when we talked to other kids at the school and found out how many of them are using stimulants to stay awake till 2am to handle the homework. We complained to adminisrators for years and got brushed off.

The exodus will continue until the district stops it's policy of destroyin the health of children with abusive homework levels. Alternatively, the district needs to accept that they will lose a chunk of Pleasanton families (10-20%) permanently.


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by Zenmonkman, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood,
on Mar 15, 2016 at 5:10 pm

Zenmonkman is a registered user.

I'm not sure of the argument that kids are overworked. If they were, then the school would be ranked higher in the state / nation than it is. I know the schools in Pleasanton are great. But, I'm not so sure kids are using their time just studying ... and in turn, that is the reason for declining student population.

First, the question of student time. Ask your kid how much time they spend on Facebook and other social media or gaming per day. I bet you'll be surprised how many hours it totals. Now, if you're saying that kids need a balanced lifestyle, then say that. Moving a kid to a private school use to mean having kids study MORE not LESS. Anyway, enough of that argument.

I believe the there are two population bubbles in play. One, the Baby Boomers. Two, the Millennials. I believe that both are highly correlated, that is, the Boomers gave birth to a lot of Millennials. The Boomers are empty nesters and their kids have gotten older, in other words, they are out in the work force now. That's where the bubble is right now (no jobs, lots of college debt, et. al.)

I think the tail end of the Millennial bubble will the be last of high income babies for a long time. Millennials are waiting longer to have kids, and the pricing is preventing them from moving into high priced residential housing like Pleasanton. The Millennials I know from Pleasanton are moving to Sacramento, Hayward, and beyond.

My point: Stay put. Don't expend. Nestle down and let the kids plow through their current situation. Big moves for kids are not fun. Creating a new legacy takes decades. Pleasanton needs to reel in its administration. With those savings, you can rent/lease extra portables without long term capital outlays. REmember, school administrators (through-out California and other states) feel they are entitled to big pay, big pensions ... it's the place where educators go to get on-the-job retirement. It's part of the their culture. Rein them in ... and there will be enough dough to rebuild the Roman Empire.

(Sorry for rambling)


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by Foothill Dad, a resident of Foothill Knolls,
on Mar 15, 2016 at 6:24 pm

@Zenmonkman, you said:

"Moving a kid to a private school use to mean having kids study MORE not LESS."

That's not even remotely true. I've already had my kids to a private school for the past 2 years, and it's a LOT less homework. I would say, an appropriate amount. That's why we spent the money to go private.

I would strongly urge you to read up on this subject a bit, before you post. Read up on "the epidemic of insomnia in high schools". It's a national disgrace and Pleasanton district is one of the worst offenders.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by SHale99, a resident of another community,
on Mar 15, 2016 at 6:57 pm

SHale99 is a registered user.

Last year there was a big change in SRVUSD homework policy; much LESS homework, no hw over holidays etc. Seems to be working aok.
No grade school child should have over 1hr hw daily. Glad they changed it.


 +   2 people like this
Posted by Waitlisted, a resident of Pleasanton Valley,
on Mar 15, 2016 at 8:12 pm

Tim, you can talk to any family that has moved to Pleasanton since your 2013- 2014 figures, or research/telephone any elementary school in the district and ask how long the waiting lists are for each of the grade levels, to report a more accurate picture of just how overcrowded the neighborhood schools are in Pleasanton.


 +   2 people like this
Posted by Zenmonkman, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood,
on Mar 16, 2016 at 6:01 pm

Zenmonkman is a registered user.

@ Foothill Dad:

"I would strongly urge you to read up on this subject a bit, before you post. Read up on "the epidemic of insomnia in high schools"."

Foothill D, interesting you say that. It just so happens I spent a year as part of a blue-ribbon research team for a renown scientist for a book he was writing on home and personal health. It went on to be a New York Times Best Seller, and yes, my name shows up in the acknowledgement. We covered many topics of health, but one of my sections was teenage insomnia. So let's just say, that my level of research and understanding of the subject would pass any criteria you might put forth, or for that matter even imagine. The subject goes deeply into areas of cellular and cognitive development, et. al, areas covered by the medical specialists in the area. Incidentally, my research was the basis of their further study, although their work went much farther into biological cross-field analysis, as you can well imagine.

The fact of the matter is that the sleep variable impacting adolescent's health is the TIME THEY GET UP, not the activity at night. So, it's not the homework that keeps kids from sleeping, it's getting up too early. The national movement's going on in the country are not to reduce workload per se, but to start school at a later time, coinciding with the natural sleep functions of adolescents.

The other factor related to early rising is, of course, getting to bed too late. What most studies found is that "light" keeps us awake and also impedes sleep. Modern homes are more incidental light-- so the modern problem of teen / adult sleep. So, if you want to go to sleep, turn off all the lights, and make sure it's dark. But, what most people don't understand is that their bedrooms are filled with light, i.e., light from their clocks, nightlights, other devices, and of course, falling to sleep with the TV on.

When it comes to adolescents, studies found that many teenagers are glued to their mobile devices, some going so far as too sleep with them, and waking up to notifications until the early morning hours. Now, the screen on the device is very bright. So the longer the adolescent stays up with their device, the less sleep they get because they keep bombarding their eyes with LIGHT ... (that only makes sense). But, the troublesome thing is that this is not related to just a small percentage of teens, but a very large percentage teens. (I don't want to pull out all the documentation just to prove a small and obvious point ... but ask around and you'll find teens admitting to late use of digital devices)

Again, it's not the homework at night that's the main problem, but the getting up early. And in most cases, teens stay up late, not because they are doing their homework (although I concede that in the entire nation, Foothill is the exception and that teens excessively labor over homework until the wee hours of the morning -- and do not use their cell phones, except during lunchtimes and Saturdays ... there you win on this point). But, in the rest of the nation what keeps most kids up late into the night is the use of their cellphones. That means the LIGHT emanating from the phone is the culprit that disturbs sleep.

So to conclude: Yes, I have done more than a little research on the subject, and have a New York Times Best Seller under my belt as a researcher on the exact subject you want me to research. Next, kids are asked to get up too early for school, working against their natural clock, causing lots of sleep problems. Finally, staying up late only agitates the problem, and the main cause of staying up late for most people is bedroom lights, TV's, and for adolescents it's their CELLPHONE (Facebook, et. al)!

Whew! I knew that my comment above was going to cause some grumbling, and in that case I would have nodded and left it alone. I guess when Foothill D. called me on my expertise it gnawed at me in the wrong way. Anyway, enough said ... the subject was about decreasing enrollment and NOT HOMEWORK & SLEEP DEFICIENCY IN ADOLESCENTS.

Nite1 Nite! Time to hit the hay! Lights out everyone!


 +   5 people like this
Posted by Kate, a resident of Pleasanton Meadows,
on Mar 16, 2016 at 10:54 pm

Tim- It looks like you actually read my post response to your Dublin High School crowding blog post. To remind you, I wrote about the apartments attracting many students to our schools, specifically I addressed Fairlands Elementary. Only 6 of 25 students in my daughters class live in Pleasanton Meadows. The rest live In the apartments by the hospital. I know this per class roster addresses, and yes, I did spend the time to google search each address. It's too bad you use old out dated data to support your position of declining enrollment in PUSD. I agree with a previous poster. Pick up a phone, do your due diligence, heck, check the PUSD website. It is clear that our schools are overcrowded and impacted. Clearly people come to Pleasanton for the schools. The Weekly is even showcasing this issue with a series article. Yes, apartments don't attract families. Ours schools do! Tell us something that we ALL don't already know! It is obvious to me you have zero personal experience with current elementary parents and their relevant daily experiences. Your wait and see attitude doesn't cut it for a a parent dealing with overcrowding TODAY. Frankly, your methods of assessing PUSD overcrowding are shamefully weak. You use outdated data and suggest a possible correlation (which is quite obvious to everyone) between rentals and school overcrowding. Weak reporting.


 +   6 people like this
Posted by Julie, a resident of Birdland,
on Mar 18, 2016 at 1:27 pm

Generalizations regarding whether Pleasanton high school teachers give too much or too little homework seem a little broad. It seems that we can talk about the homework policy overall, but just because the homework is too much for one kid, doesn't mean it's too much for all.

My sophomore is taking an AP class, an honors class, and has a B period and rarely has more than 1 1/2 hours of homework a night. Maybe it's an upperclassman problem? I don't know. But it's definitely not universal and should not be presented as such.


 +   8 people like this
Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore,
on Mar 19, 2016 at 12:52 pm

I agree...lights out...tee hee hee



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