At a South San Francisco Unified School District community forum Thursday evening, city council chambers were packed with teachers, students and parents eager to express concerns about school improvements under the Measure J bond program.
Though most of the comments from the community centered around the "right-sizing of schools" agenda item, Superintendent Alejandro Hogan announced in a presentation that he had decided not to pursue right-sizing.
"A few hundred of us were brought here under the impression we were talking about right-sizing," said local parent Pat Rosenthal.
Instead, Hogan presented on other school improvements that will be recommended to the board for Phase II of Measure J.
These recommendations included removing 104 portables throughout the district and installing 75 new classrooms. The presentation also set forth a vision of neighborhood schools.
"When a school site becomes the focal point in any particular neighborhood," Hogan said, "the whole school tends to perform better and offers the most services for students and parents who see this school as their own and take pride in the school."
Despite Hogan's decision not to pursue right-sizing, several parents and teachers still expressed concern about the recommendations that they had heard on that topic at two recent community workshops.
At the workshops, the superintendent, staff and outside consultants had presented ideas on how to realign district schools to better reflect future enrollment numbers and school site capacities.
Those preliminary recommendations included increasing enrollment at some schools that had physical space to expand with additional buildings, while decreasing or stabalizing enrollment at others.
Trustee Maurice Goodman said on Thursday that right-sizing was not even "on the horizon" for the district. Vice President Phil Weise said that there had been studies and presentations, but the concept had never been a concrete proposal.
"What we’re doing right now is what we said we would do with Meausre J," Weise said, "which is removing portables and replacing them with modular classrooms."
Superintendent Hogan told Patch that the purpose of the recent workshops was not to present a final plan, but to get responses from the community on a path of action he was considering.
"I can understand why they'd want to do that," Weise said. "But there was an obvious communication issue."
Hogan said he has since decided that the detailed right-sizing recommendations provided by outside consultants is not the best path for the district right now.
"We don’t have a critical situation at any of our schools at this point," he said. "There’s no need for [right-sizing] because of our present situation."
Right-sizing according to schools' physical capacities is still an important scenario to study, and may be necessary to avoid overcrowding in years to come, Hogan told Patch. "It's something a future board will have to consider."