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EDUHSD: Board studies up on transfer policy

In what El Dorado Union High School Superintendent Chris Hoffman characterized as “the start of the process,” his board of trustees held an open and substantive discussion of the district’s historically strict intra-transfer policies, with an eye to balancing enrollment across schools and providing more flexibility to families in school border areas.

The board also largely agreed on a wait-and-see approach on the potentially much larger issue — the current high school boundaries.

Hoffman brought a short list of interrelated school boundary and enrollment issues to the July 12 board meeting:

• Potential transfers out of two high schools that could be deemed “program improvement” schools under current provisions of the No Child Left Behind law
• A further opening of enrollment at Union Mine High School to bolster low enrollment projections
• A proposed “95-5” policy that would address long-standing concerns by residents in eastern Serrano neighborhoods currently in the Ponderosa High School boundary.

NCLB
Test scores for specific subgroups defined in the No Child Left Behind act, including special education, don’t meet federal targets at Union Mine and El Dorado, according to Hoffman. As a result, despite their healthy API scores, they could be deemed “program improvement” schools next year, under provisions of the act that have come under sharp criticism and must be reauthorized this year.

Worst case, said Hoffman, the district would have to allow transfers out of the two schools, irregardless of capacity constraints at target schools.

Trustee Todd White expressed optimism that a state-requested waiver would be approved. But Hoffman encouraged his board to be proactive in addressing the potential impacts, including the impact of potential staff moves and capacity issues. They instructed him to formalize the potential impacts of the transfers and bring them back to the board in August.

95-5
Trustee Kevin Brown described his proposed 95-5 policy, which addresses the desire of a group of families in the so-called “Serrano finger” in eastern El Dorado Hills which is currently in the Ponderosa boundary. They would like their children to follow their friends to Oak Ridge High School, an impact of roughly 10 students per year, according to analysis done by the parents.

The policy would pertain only to middle schools with at least 95 percent of the graduates feeding into a single high school. The other students would be allowed intra-district transfers to the same high school, as long as the high school enrollment stays below 99 percent of capacity. The proposed policy addresses real problems, said Brown, eliciting applause from the parents in the room.

“Children should be given the choice to stay with the other students at their school,” he added.

Trustee Lori Veerkamp pointed out that other areas have it much worse, most notably Blackstone, which is located off Latrobe Road in El Dorado Hills, yet is in the Union Mine boundary.

Due to enrollment capacities at Oak Ridge, the Blackstone development was placed in the Union Mine school district, 16 miles east, when boundaries were last redrawn in 2005. The “Serrano finger,” was also carved out at that time.

“If we’re talking about keeping students with their cohorts, friends … we’ve done a disservice to this community,” Veerkamp said of the Blackstone community, which has seen a recent surge in home sales.

Oak Ridge capacity
Trustee Mary Muse was concerned about the impact of increasing Oak Ridge’s enrollment, projected to skirt below capacity, with 144 students to spare next year, but the gap narrows to just 74 students at the school’s projected enrollment peak in 2016-17, according to the district’s 2011-12 demographic study.

“The quality of that school comes … from being a comfortable size,” she said, later adding, “There are people who have lived here for years and don’t want more kids at Oak Ridge.”

Trustee Tim Cary echoed Muse’s concern over increased enrollment at Oak Ridge, the only school projected to increase enrollment over the next couple years. “Study after study shows that the smaller you get the better you get.” he said.

Muse nonetheless voiced guarded optimism about the 95-5 policy, calling it “a band-aid” that buys us time to analyze where we should be going,” a reference to the larger boundary issue.

Do something
White said he appreciated his board finally addressing the issue, but wondered why it took so long. “We’ve been discussing this for the year-and-a-half I’ve been here,” he said. “We need to present something that’s real, not just say we care but actually put a step forward and do something about it.”

Reflecting the frustration of parents in the room, White added, “The (transfer) policy is there to serve the people of the district, not the other way around.”

Cary and White exchanged verbal swipes, with Cary taking umbrage at White’s depiction of the board as unresponsive on the issue. He nonetheless supported, in principle, the 95-5 policy and suggested it might be more effective if it were more flexible.

“Our bigger issue is that we have Union Mine with 863 kids when we thought it would be double that,” Cary said.

With White’s admonition ringing in their ears, the board considered how fast to move on the re-engineered transfer policy, which could be implemted as soon as the 2012-13 school year, according to Hoffman.

Muse wanted faculty input, which is two months out. Veerkamp asked to see the impacts of any proposal on enrollment. Cary suggested Hoffman return in August with a draft policy that expands Union Mine’s open enrollment policy with some variation of the 95-5 policy for a first reading.

Hoffman concurred, suggesting provisions that would allow students in “impacted” schools, those closer to capacity, to transfer to schools less impacted, thus balancing enrollment.

Muse addressed the Serrano parents in the room, “We want to meet the needs of everybody, not just one part of Serrano or one part of Marina,” a reference to the outraged reaction her board received after proposing that the area north of Green Valley Road be carved out of the Oak Ridge boundary in 2005.

Veerkamp later added, “We heard loud and clear from the community (in 2005), ‘please don’t displace us for people who aren’t here yet.’”

Serrano resident Jeff Owens replied, “Well we’re here now, and we’re not asking you to disregard any other part of the district because of us, we’re just saying ‘We’re here and we’d like some attention.’”

On the matter of the boundaries, the remaining board members agreed that they would like to see if growth returns before opening up the boundary discussion, but Veerkamp worried that the situation at Union Mine might not wait, suggesting that a souped-up transfer policy might not be adequate to offset projected declines in Union Mine enrollment under the current boundaries.

Union Mine
Union Mine is projected to drop from 974 students in 2012-13 to 772 in 2017-18. By comparison, Oak Ridge enrollment is projected to peak at 2,314 in 2016-17.

“There’s not enough kids there,” Veerkamp said, explaining that the low enrollment impacts course selections and athletic opportunity.

“If we can’t get there with this (transfer and open enrollment policy changes) we need to look at the boundaries,” she said. “I want to assure these people that they’re going to have viable programs.”

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37 Comments for “EDUHSD: Board studies up on transfer policy”


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  1. While this is unfortunate for the Serrano children impacted by the boundaries, their parents should have checked the high school boundaries before they purchased their homes and not just “assumed” their homes fell within the Oak Ridge boundaries. Oak Ridge enrollment has been bursting at the seems for many, many years and its time to put an end to this.

    • We did, the literature stated that the high school was going to be oak ridge high school. Then after we made the decision to buy and with no consultation with us, the district changed the boundaries. In other words, the people (and kids) most affected were not brought into the discussion, which did not take into our views and possible hardships getting kids to school.

    • I am sick and tired of people saying that we bought our house “assuming” our kids would go to Oak Ridge!! I bought 7 years ago, in upper Serrano. I did all the leg work and called the District. I have neighbors who, when they moved here, their oldest transfered into Oakridge. Then when it came time for their 2nd. oldest to go to high school, they were slated for Ponderosa. We aren’t idiots!

      My son has been playing for the Jr. Trojans for 2 years now and we take pride in that. Imagine how difficult it would be to participate with these kids for the next 7 years in this amazing program and then have to go to a rival school when you are in 9th. grade. We want the option to stay of go.

      • KW & Eric – If people purchased their homes before the district boundary changes were made & they were aligned with Oak Ridge, then I completely believe that these kids, and their siblings, should be allowed, permanently, to attend Oak Ridge.
        It’s a shame that some residents who bought after the boundary realignment didn’t check directly with the school districts and unfortunately were given wrong information from real estate agents, home builders, etc. whom “assumed” Oak Ridge was the home HS and passed this mis-information onto their buyers…..
        I hope your kids do get to attend Oak Ridge, but on a permanente basis, not the temporary basis of the “95-5″ plan, but I do see the quick fix of the “95-5″ plan across all the high schools within the district..It’s too bad Union Mine was built instead of a second EDH high school.There was one slated for the property adjacent to Pleasant Grove Middle school, but that didn’t pan out due to lack of funds (so I was told by school board trustees back in 2005).

  2. Actually, the school board presented parents throughout the county with five different proposals for these boundary changes.

    The parents of Oak Ridge and Ponderosa students, well organized and supported by legal counsel (to their credit), successfully resisted any significant changes to their school boundaries.

    The real question is why was Union Mine built where it is and how can it be sustainable with only 850 students?

  3. Eric – If the Oak Ridge boundaries where changed after you purchased your home (regardless if your home wasn’t completed and you hadn’t moved in yet) I completely agree with you, your kids should be allowed to attend Oak Ridge. I’d be fighting for the right as well ! ..
    I am one of many residents who live in the “area north of Green Valley Road” who, in 2005, fought back against the El Dorado HS District carving our area out of the Oak Ridge boundaries and sending our kids up to Ponderosa. I was in complete agreement with the district realigning the boundaries for the Blackstone development because my understanding was that not even one house/lot had been sold at that time so any new buyers would be completely aware that their home would be outside the Oak Ridge boundaries.
    I feel sorry for all the kids caught in the middle of this situation. Instead of the “95-5″ temporary band aide, I’d like to see you and all the other impacted residents (not just in Serrano) who purchased their homes prior to the boundary change get an exemption from the district and receive a guarantee that their kids will attend Oak Ridge. I wish you all good luck !

    • Kids from the Blackstone community (Buckeye Unified School) initially go to William Brooks, then get punted to Camerado Springs (losing most of their friends who will go to Rolling Hills) and yet again get moved to Union Mine (which Buckeye Unified does not feed into; losing yet again their middle school friends who will mostly go to Ponderosa). To say that our esteemed school policy-makers made an oversight is the understatement of the millennium. Or they just don’t care how the kids in Blackstone community will turn out to be… it’s as bad as moving out of your home 3 times!
      To reiterate Mr Owens in the above article — we are here now and we’d like some attention. We all pay taxes. We need a (high) school that is close by and will not require my kids to be in a school bus for 3hrs every day! The kids in the Blackstone Community deserve to keep at least some of their friends while they are growing up!

      • I agree that Blackstone is a mess, but when we looked at that development, the sales agents were very up front about the schooling. Their pitch was don’t worry, there is a bus to the high school. My questions, was, when my kids are done with their sports practice, will the bus swing by again. Just last night, I had one kid at Oak Ridge at three, the other at five. They try to lure you in with nice inexpensive houses. I ran the other way. The folks at Blackstone made the choice to live there regardless and should not complain at this point.

        • No child should be forced on a bus for 3 hours each day because idiots years ago built a school without a population to fill it. You are completely uncaring for the children involved.

          • I am not uncaring, but I need to look out for my kids first. That was not a viable option for my family. If other parents chose to live there knowing the school situation, than that is on them.

          • Tiverbrook, do you feel the same about the people who moved into the “Serrano finger” after the new lines were drawn as you do about the Blackstone folks?

    • It looks like the school district built the high school in the wrong place, and now they are making it our problem. They should have build this in the right place to begin with. To quote a finance person when a program I was on many years ago when we built data centers in the wrong location, the finance person asked, “so how does that make it my problem?” His point was don’t impact him to solve my problem. The school district is impacting all of us for their mistake.

  4. The 95-5 policy would allow the pockets of kids across the district (Union Mine, El Dorado, Ponderosa and Oak Ridge) to be able to stay with their friends. Blackstone is a mess, no arguement there. However, the 95-5 will help them by allowing them to go to Ponderosa and stay with their middle school friends until they get beyond 5% of the student body at Camerado Springs.

    It is unfortunate that the children of EDH are paying for the sins of the prior High School Boards. The crystal ball used to decide that Union Mine was a good idea was certainly cracked and EDH will continue to pay the price for awful decision years to come.

  5. People should realize that back in 2005 when the boundary changes were being discussed/analyzed, there weren’t alot of Serrano folks yet living in those houses and had bought when the Serrano “finger” was still part of Oak Ridge. I still recall reading the 2005 article in The Village Life about a bunch of Marina residents attending the Board meetings and making their voices heard about wanting to stay in Oak Ridge and, basically, shifting the Serrano finger into Pondo. So yes, residents in Serrano bought and moved in under prior-and-dated knowledge that they were still part of Oak Ridge. I recall all of this because my street barely made it into Oak Ridge. Oh, and I didn’t learn about having made “the cut” until after it was all decided.

  6. A lot has changed since the discussions back in 2005. Certain projections were made that have changed significantly with regard to growth. I also don’t think much consideration was given to school alignment when the last boundary change was made. Most of the negative comments I’ve seen about the two articles on this topic seem to come from people who simply don’t understand the facts.

    The 95-5 policy won’t fix everything, but it has the potential to fix some of the more extreme cases where the shift in numbers are so small, it’s hardly worth arguing about. EDH will need a second school to fix this problem for good. The reality is Oak Ridge does have some capacity, and although this policy won’t allow Blackstone to attend, it will allow other kids to follow their friends all the way through K-12. I find it difficult dor any parent to argue that this shouldn’t be the case. Bottom line is that there is an opportunity here to take a very reasonable approach to fix some of the challenges throughout the district.

    • So, Malibu, you’re saying the 95/5 gives priority to the 10 kids/yr in the Serrano finger over the Blackstone kids? Why? Why so much attention for 10 kids/yr? How many of these 10 kids’ parents moved into the “finger” knowing full well their kids were slotted for Pondo? Why do they feel the right to make this the district’s problem? Do they benefit in property value increases if the line moves (Yes, I realize some families were already there and got moved to a new school, they SHOULD get priority).

      Doesn’t the district have to look at this with a macro view? What happens if El Dorado and Union Mine get designated “Program Improvement” schools and have to allow anyone who asks to transfer to a different school? What can the district do to get more kids into Union Mine without forcing Blackstone kids to commute? Have you driven from EDH to Union Mine? Daily?

      Where should this issue fall on the district’s priority list and how many people posting here are equally vested in other issues the district is dealing with?

      • It a relatively small group of kids (10 a year) can be accommodated in Serrano, that seems to make sense – Most of Serrano can SEE Oakridge from their front yards… Believe me – that 16 miles daily to Union Mine is ridiculous, but Blackstone was aligned that way before a single house was built. Because of their short-sightedness, El Dorado High School District had to draw a line somewhere – and as late as 2006 they were talking about a site near the business park. But the downturn stopped all talk of it. Construction on the Elementary school in Blackstone will be completed near the end of 2012 – but the school will not open anytime in the next five years. Just poor planning….

        • I question the timing of building the school in Blackstone, but the state funds were going to expire and the district’s future cost of construction would undoubtedly have been higher. Your point as to when it will open is a good one as is the question of the maintenance cost for an unoccupied school (although there is talk of the district office moving there).

          But, I believe the Blackstone school is being built in the correct place. Union Mine was not.

          The real solution for the high school boundaries is the inverse of the one being pushed here and one no one will like: Boundaries need to shift west, not east. More EDH students need to get moved to Pondo, Pondo students to El Dorado and El Dorado to Union Mine.

          • Agreed. But then the debate becomes about where the boundaries fall for the Pondo to Union Mine switch. A samller population, bit Pondo has been there for a long time, and a lot of families will be upset that their kids will not be allowed to go to their “local” school. There just isn’t the population to support Union Mine. The real solution is a HS in either Cameron Park proper, or Eastern EDH….

          • The EDUHSD board plan to ‘fill’ Union Mine by ‘forcing’ students based on mailing address, and not quality of life arguably is a poor value choice.

            Other school districts (San Juan Unified, San Jose Unified) have ‘programs’ dedicated to a campus. This inspires students/parents to invest a little more time to commute for a ‘benefit’ they wouldn’t get by the closest school. I’d much rather be part of a ‘what programs would make Union Mines desirable’ than carving up Western El Dorado County.

      • Oak Ridge, you need to get your facts. 95-5 is not just for Serrano. There are pockets of kids throughout the district with this same issue.

        Blackstone will benefit from it as well by allowing them to attend Ponderosa with their middle school friends since Camerado is a feeder school to Pondo. While it is not ideal, it is significantly better than what they current have and it can be sustainable. Can you imagine how much homework these kids can do in the 15 HOURS per week they spend on the bus?

        There are pockets of kids up the hill that attend Union Mine and El Dorado which have the same problem, we need to look after all of the KIDS and not put personal prejudices in front of the children’s interest.

        The fact that the board has made this such a large issue and is taking away time from other important issues was THEIR choice. This topic has been brewing for this board for over 1.5 years .. time to put on the band-aid and move forward.

        • Excuse me, Malibu, please educate me on the “facts”. Here’s your quote from above: “this policy won’t allow Blackstone to attend.”

          You haven’t addressed the other issues I raised. No decision is without consequence and the board owes it to the ENTIRE district to take a 360 degree view of this problem and use foresight that was omitted when boundaries were drawn in ’05. Bandaids used improperly can rip off the scab when removed.

        • If the 95-5 rule is implemented, the kids at Blackstone should go to Oak Ridge. They currently go to Brooks, which is a feeder to Rolling Hills, which feeds to oak Ridge. If we establish the 95-5 rule, then the Blackstone kids would never make it to Cameradod.

          • Middle schools are not in the high school district … This is a high school transfer policy, not a buckeye policy. Blackstone’s best scenario is to get the new elementary school opened, not just built then they can have continuity of their kids.

  7. The 95/5 policy to those of us living in the Serrano “finger” ( no pun intended) allows for the letter AND spirit of the law be followed. Not being able to continue onto high school with the same friends and acquaintainces the kids have had to that point is an injustice and disservice to the kids inadvertently effected. We aren’t asking for boundary changes, which IS the only real answer here, but a temporary fix addressing current needs brought to former EDHUSD boards, but disregarded! When asked whether or not each board member thought that continuity and stability of friends was important to building lasting relationships down the road, each member unanimously agreed. Voting “Yes” in August to implement the 95/5 policy is relevant and necessary to retain those values we as parents and school teachers agree on what’s important in fostering our youth in EDH. My applause to Todd White, Kevin Brown and Chris Hoffman for attempting to do the right thing here!

  8. El Dorado County Department of Education owned the Union Mine property for over 20 years before they began construction. When construction began, ATT didn’t even have enough facilities in place for more than three phone lines into the construction trailers. EDCOE hadn’t even secured the easement to get power on site from PG&E.
    But the EDCOE wanted their trophy high school, and they got it. And it is a beautiful campus. They even planned to use the exact same site layout at future high schools (South – near the EDH business park, and East next to Pleasant Grove MS). But where was all the growth in the county at that time (mid 90s)? EDH and Cameron Park. Any projections about growth occurring anywhere else were either incompetent or manufactured for a reason. I’ll guess that since the EDCOE already owned the property, that there was going to be a high school built there regardless of where the actual need was. Back then, when the western slope population was more in line with the county’s rural setting, 16 miles to go to high school wasn’t as significant an issue. With the growth in EDH and to a lesser degree, Cameron Park, people moving into the area saw a growing suburban community, and expected that school facilities would be the same as other growing suburban communities, and not more in tune with rural existing El Dorado County high schools.
    Really, just a failure of planning by all parties, EDCOE, El Dorado High School District, Rescue, and Buckeye.

    • John, how are Rescue and Buckeye to blame? Did they have any say in where the high school was built or where the attendance boundaries were drawn? I don’t get the connection.

      Buckeye is building an elementary school in Blackstone through a great partnership with the developer and with a significant portion of the construction cost paid by the state. If the EDH South school had been built instead of Union Mine, we’d have feeder schools in proximity (though some might still complain that their kid was being separated from friends and sports clubs).

      • You’re correct – the Rescue and Buckeye really don’t have much input into the HS process – I mis-spoke.

        And you’re also correct that there would still be some issues with splitting kids up – but it would be better than kids being transported through 3 communities and 16 miles!

  9. As a longtime EDH Resident and family I can’t imagine what this is like except when my kids went to Marina Jr High and some of their friends went to Pondo and the others went to Oak Ridge. At that time 1980′s it made sense the kids going to Pondo lived west and not in EDH.

    However, this is an entirely different situation. My two cents get activated as a group and take some real action besides the rants and complaints here. There is no good that will come of this unless talking about it helps ease your mind.

    Taking action in this regard works. I have lead action committees and know that grass roots activism works and in this county they move when their jobs are on the line so get moving in the right direction and I bet change will be made especially during this very turmultous election year.

    Public Officials: The school district has elected representatives vote out these idiots and put board memebers in that will listen to common sense. Same goes for the boundary lines and the planning. Voting for representatives that have best interest of EDH residents at heart will make a huge difference. Get involved and vote. The old saying “talk is cheap” and ranting won’t solve this but voting and enlisting the support of county government elected officials will help. Try that route.

    Legal: Hire a lawyer there are many that specialize in this area of law that would take your case. A group of you can get together and share the costs.

    Good luck!

  10. I’d put my kids at pondo anyday before Oak RIdge. Much better school. The block schedule at OR and UM suck. Tons of wasted time, which means wasted money. Agree with the article in the paper today, Get rid of three districts. Biggest waste of money.

    Kids learn to adapt. They need to learn to do it more. When you get a job after college do you follow your friends…don’t work somewhere because your Jr. High friend isn’t getting a job there. When kids go off to middle school, three elementary schools converge to one middle school. They meet new people, and make new friends. Friends should have no factor in schoool boundaries. Make them seek new adventures. New Friends, might be the best thing that ever happened to them..
    No, I wouldn’t want to have to drive 17 miles…make the boundaries so they don’t have too.. Pondo kids move up, ElDo kids move to pondo…..Doesn’t really seem like rocket science.

  11. Oak Ridge – As I have said from the beginning, if you move buy a house either knowing the schools or you do not do the research, then the ownness is on the buyer. If you move into a house and they move the border after the the fact, they you have every right to fight and expect that they honor the original boundaries. My point with Blackstone is that it has been the same from day one, so the parents that are upset now, knew what to expect when the moved in. Serrano is different as there are different stories there. Some were effected by the boundary shift and that is not right.

    • I congratulate you, Tiverbrook, and the rest of the folks who did outstanding research on the school boundaries before committing to purchase a home. You deserve a pat on the back! In fact, your prize is not being inconvenienced by issues such as this.
      The point however is to emphasize that including Blackstone (and some communities south of White Rock Rd) in Union Mine territory is just plain wrong. I guess nobody pointed that out in 2005 when these boundaries were being drawn. Maybe the Blackstone community were too timid to speak up… Oh wait, there was no community then to speak of!
      But now there are people in Blackstone Community. And we are saying the commute is too long, especially when the other 2 highschools are much closer to where we live. It is inconvenient now. That is the status now. But that doesn’t mean it should stay that way!

  12. Ian- you are missing my point, especially when speaking of Blackstone. The sales agent at Blackstone were very clear where these kids were going to go to school. My personal opinion is the boundary issue was why the beautiful homes were priced so low. We had a choice to make and we walked away because it did not make sense for my children. The parents chose to buy there knowing the situation and now they are complaining. It is like orderinhg fish at a resteraunt and then complaining when you get fish. They got what they were told they would get and now they are not happy. That does not seem like the school boards issue. I know people that are pulling their kids from El Dorado high school district and sending them to Vista. A brand new school that is still not close to capacity. Look at Folsom. Two highs schools, both on the same side of town. That does not make sense either.

    Do I agree with the boundaries? No, I do not. But the reality is, that Oak Ridge cannot support this area when fully developed. The board has to anticipate that.

    • Same should be said for the folks who moved into the Serrano finger knowing they were slotted for Pondo. BUT, the issue as a whole needs to be addressed. The status quo is unworkable.

  13. Thank you Oak Ridge. That is the whole point. The current needs of the community is not being met by the current system in place and requires change, hopefully sooner rather than later. Tiverbrook, these families living in EDH should not even consider sending their kids to a different county or even consider moving out of EDH if there was nothing wrong with this whole setup. But there is something wrong with it and people like me complain so that others will know that it needs to be addressed. Why will the school board fix what they may percieve ain’t broke if we just shut up and take it!
    We asked for fish and didn’t get the filet mignon! We got the fish! And it tastes rotten! Would you shut up and not complain? We’re paying for the food too like everyone else!

  14. @Ian, I guess we should agree to disagree in certain areas. Are the boundaries messed up? Yes. I beleive we agree on that. It is across all the schools. Kids in Serrano are going to elementary and middle school across town. They pass three lower grades schools to get to theirs. They pass one middle school to get to theirs. Promitory kids are going to Oak Meadow when there are so many closer schools. What makes this situation differernt.

    I do not think we agree on wether people in Blackstone or the Serrano Finger should get into Oak Ridge. If people purchased their homes and the boundaries were clear, then they cannot expect their kids get to get in, just because they disagree with the policy/boundaries. That is where we disagree. Can they fight for the change? Absolutely. I think we agree on that. Is it worth the risk to buy those homes with the uncertainty of knowing where your kid will go to school? Not for me. I think we disagree here.

    I think it is great that you are so passionate about it. I cannot remember if you mentioned that you have been attending the board meetings. I hope you have and that they will listen.

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