Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Hot topic: Cobb Montessori gets a new home, but CACS does not

This from an SF K Files reader:
I would appreciate if you could start a new thread regarding a vote at last night's SF School Board Meeting. At the meeting the SF School Board's voted to approve the move of the Cobb Montessori program (note: a school that is only currently established up to grade two) to the old Newcomer High School location at Jackson and Fillmore. Please point out that an already well established SFSD Charter School, Creative Arts Charter School, which is exactly 13 blocks south in Western Addition, has once again been overlooked for a potential new home. CACS has been requesting a new building assignment for several years. How was this possible? How can the district justify overlooking CACS?

23 comments:

  1. i have no idea what factors were considered but the decision doesn't seem to make a lot of sense. I thought the Cobb Montessori program was supposed to be a magnet type of program to attract more applicants to an under enrolled school. If that's true, then doesn't it defeat the purpose to move the magnet program out of that school?

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  2. I think it's lame that CACS once again gets the shaft by the district.

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  3. Are they moving the Cobb Montessori CDC as well? If so how does this effect the mainly AA community it supposedly is meant to serve? Do you see them going up to Pacific Heights? I see just yet another SFUSD program meant to benefit the more affluent (read white) community. Already the Cobb Montessori K requires kids to have preschool Montessori experience (which except for the CDC is near impossible for struggling families to afford) and now they move put yet another obstacle in place for these families.

    And CACS desperately needs a new building, we toured this year and were shocked by the accommodations they were in (and bursting out of the seams of). Why would SFUSD ignore their need for a new location? Why not give them the old Cabrillo campus? It was just fixed up to be used as administrative offices... wouldn't it make better use as a campus for a popular program like CSCS?

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  4. Maybe Rachel Norton can enlighten us as to why this decision was made.

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  5. Now that the Cobb Montessori program is moving out of Cobb, wouldn't that make space for CACS at the old Cobb site?

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  6. No, as I understand it, the Cobb general ed, non-Montessori stays put and continues to operate. So not a destination for Creative Arts to move.

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  7. Is there any chance that CACS is also going to be offered this space as a shared campus? It seems a sensible thing to do if space allows. CACS is very small and I would imagine the Montessori is too. I think putting a charter and a Montessori school in the same building might be seen as a better fit than a shared building with a 'conventional' elementary school.

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  8. I find it shocking that a public Montessori program, which could disproportionately benefit kids from lower socioeconomic backgrounds, would be relocated to Pacific Heights of all places. I guess they figure it is a way to keep white middle to upper class people within SFUSD.

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  9. Judging from the conversation on the other thread, I guess I was very wrong. Argh.

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  10. I am going to post this comment on both threads, as it appears there is an organized effort to portray the Montessori move as some kind of preferential treatment. It’s not a question of “preferential treatment,” it’s a question of what building could accommodate the program. The situation between Montessori and GE had deteriorated to the point where they were not going to be able to co-exist, and no one on the Board thought that Cobb GE should be made to move. So once the decision was made to move Montessori, we needed a facility that could offer seven ground floor classrooms, because it is a Pre-K as well as a planned K-5 (the fire code requires that PreK-2 children be housed on the ground floor, or have a dedicated exit stairwell). Jackson St. was the only location staff could find that would accommodate that many young children on the first floor.

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  11. When was the decision made to move Montessori? Before or after the decision was made a few years ago to move CACS?

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  12. Rachel, I don't think there's any organized effort to portray the move as preferential treatment. But perhaps there should be. Or at least an organized effort to get a permanent home for CACS. Cobb's organized effort seems to have paid off for them. As you say on your website in reference to Montessori, "if we continue to hem and haw every year about where the program should be located, that would take away from its popularity." I think that applies pretty well to CACS.

    Along those lines, if the Montessori move to Newcomer is only temporary, would the site be available to and appropriate for CACS the following year?

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  13. I don't mean any offence to Rachel but I don't really understand how her post was meant to shed light on why Montessori was given Newcomer first.

    CACS's temporary site has quite literally "deteriorated to the point where they were not going to be able to co-exist" --and this has been the situation since before the Montessori program even existed.

    I know I sound frustrated and I apologize for any untoward tone in this post, but I was just flabberghasted by the news this morning and would really appreciate a deeper understanding of why this has happened.

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  14. Rachel writes on her blog about Cobb:

    "Families...have been in agony in recent months, uncertain whether their school would survive what best resembles a contentious divorce."

    Please understand that CACS parents have been in agony for years without a permanent location, and with seeing families turn away from applying for our school due to the unappealing current location and the uncertainty of the future.

    and here:

    "It’s not a question of “preferential treatment,” it’s a question of what building could accommodate the program."

    CACS has the same requirement for ground floor classrooms. I don't understand this comment in light of that fact.

    Please Rachel, read the discussions of CACS on the other thread. The lack of permanent digs appears to be killing public interest in the school. We love our school and we are turning to the school board for help.

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  15. CACS doesn't have three Pre-K classrooms in addition to its K,1,2 classrooms. Also, it is a smaller program (as I understand it, two classrooms per grade?). There is no question that Montessori has greater 1st floor classroom needs.

    But I don't mean to say that CACS in any way figured into the Montessori decision, because it was never presented as an either/or. We needed a place to put Montessori, fast -- the efforts last spring to get the two programs to occupy the same space came to naught. Jackson St. was suggested, sometime this fall, as a place that could accomodate the program.
    After due diligence, the staff made its recommendation and after discussion, it was accepted by the Board.
    I am sorry that some at CACS feel that they were slighted by this decision, because I don't believe that is the case. A CACS space request went in to the district in late November 2009, and we are scheduled to respond by February 2010 (I am not at this point privy to either the space request or the district's planning for its response). The same thing happened last year, and after going through the process (which a number of participants have described as quite collegial), CACS and the district jointly decided that the current space was the best option for this year.

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  16. For once, we'd like our school (CACS) to be a priority for the district so we can become a great K-8 arts-based option.

    Having us relocate over and over, never knowing when and where we'll be moving and keeping us in a dilapidated building is just NOT acceptable.

    Please give our children's school a permanent home!
    Please!!!

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  17. Rachel,
    CACS's annual space request was given to the school district last November, but as you are well aware, the relocation of CACS has been a board agenda item for several years now. Please shed some light why there continues to be a delay in relocating CACS. I would also appreciate if you would provide some details why the Jackson Street location was never considered a relocation space for CACS. How could the school board never consider an unused, available building 13 blocks south of CACS's current location on Turk Street a possible option? And regarding the first floor classroom needs for k-2, both schools are comparable and growing. At CACS there are amazing kids, families and teachers who would appreciate a slice of your energy and concern for their education, needs and location. Please come take a tour of CACS and let us know if you feel there are any immediate needs. Also, as another poster mentioned, please take a look at some of the other poster's reviews of CACS's current building. Any thoughts?

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  18. Rachel,--correction
    CACS's annual space request was given to the school district last November, but as you are well aware, the relocation of CACS has been a board agenda item for several years now. Please shed some light why there continues to be a delay in relocating CACS. I would also appreciate if you would provide some details why the Jackson Street location was never considered a relocation space for CACS. How could the school board never consider an unused, available building 13 blocks north of CACS's current location on Turk Street a possible option? And regarding first floor classroom needs for k-2, both schools are comparable and growing! At CACS there are amazing kids, families and teachers who would appreciate a slice of your energy and concern for their education and needs.

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  19. Toured CACS this morning and was glad to get a look at the facility myself after reading so much about it here. There were some boarded up windows outside which were pretty grim. And the inside was dingy and needed a coat of paint. But I think they have done a lot with the space they have. The 'cafetorium' was decorated with snow flakes and winter designs and they managed to make the place pretty cheery.
    They will only have one K class next year and with siblings only about 12 spaces so the tour was basically a big waste of time. I do hope that get a nice permanent building in the future.

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  20. I’m a CACS parent and would like to point out that Rachel is a friend of mine and I think she is committed to helping us find our school a good new home …
    so I wish you’d please quit sounding so angry at her…
    Perhaps the Newcomer Campus did not meet the criteria listed on our facilities request?

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  21. @6:01
    I think there's just a huge level of frustration right now and feeling unstable in our location isn't helping. I am not the angry person but I think many people are just seeking answers. (Maybe even hoping for an advocate).

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  22. 6:37
    It will be OK. We will weather this storm and we'll find a good building.
    I think we'll stay put another year, and even if the place is "dingy" as one touring parent described it, I'd rather be at CACS than any private perfect "looking" school in SF. The Director is great, the Teachers are great, and my kid LOVES going there.

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  23. To 3:43--

    I was exactly in your spot 2 years ago!! There were 10 kinder spots available after siblings. I sent in my application and had NO HOPE whatsoever. We actually got our first choice in the lottery, McKinley, and were over the moon with happiness.

    We then got a phone call/letter from CACS in July of that year. It was a tough choice, but I considered myself very lucky to be in the position of having to chose between my top 2 choices.

    The teaching philosophy and K-8 helped us make the decision. And despite the looming move, we couldn't be happier with what is going on in the class room.

    Have hope...for all your choices.

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