Thursday, December 3, 2009
Bay View school is the kind of place where it’s easy for a shy 5-year old like Nathan Binder to make friends, and where all the teachers know his name.
That’s according to his dad, Matt Binder, a former high school teacher who knows his way around schools. Binder is now a technology adviser for the North Monterey Unified School District, and a parent activist who’s protesting Bay View’s proposed closure. “The kids aren’t getting lost,” Binder says. “They’re not numbers, they’re names.”
The school would be shut down as part of a restructuring program in which Colton Elementary, now a K-8, would become a middle school and Monte Vista, which is currently leased to the Defense Language Institute for office space, would re-open as an elementary school for both Bay View and Colton students. Bay View, with a capacity of some 350 students, is too small to accommodate the Colton kids, but all could fit at the Monte Vista site – at least that’s the way Monterey Peninsula Unified School District administrators see it.
All the reshuffling is aimed at giving the district’s sixth, seventh, and eighth graders opportunities like drama and music classes that are only available in middle school programs, according to Assistant Superintendent Kathleen Biermann.
Biermann says a tiny school like Bay View isn’t cost-effective. With only about 320 students, its per-student state funding doesn’t cover its overhead, and according to the district’s website, the school loses a quarter million dollars a year in a district that’s been forced to cut millions from an already lean budget this year.
Parents counter that MPUSD, which is under state orders to raise student achievement under the federal No Child Left Behind law, is poised to destroy one of its best-performing schools. Bay View boasts the second-highest standardized test scores in the district, Binder says.
Parents have launched a website and petition drive, confronted district administrators and board members, and crunched numbers in an attempt to refute district arguments about costs. They’ve even combed the Megan’s Law website and raised concerns about sex offenders who live near the Monte Vista site, where their children would be transferred.
What’s a good solution?
“I wish I knew,” Biermann says.
The school board is set to decide Bay View’s fate Dec. 10.