At a community workshop Wednesday night in the Ponderosa Elementary School multi-purpose room, SSFUSD Superintendent Alejandro Hogan and several others involved in overseeing the $162 million Measure J bond program presented on the status of the plan.
Identifying appropriate student enrollment numbers based on five-year projections, changing school attendence areas and creating neighborhood schools that students can walk to are the three priorities presented at the forum.
Hogan reminded the small audience that some schools will be slated to be torn down entirely to make room for new schools, while others will see modernizations of the current campuses.
The superintendent added that plans do not include shutting down any schools entirely without replacing them, in favor of fewer, larger schools; though that could become an option in the years to come.
Architect Wally Gordon pointed to media libraries, wireless internet and lock-down capabilities in the case of a security breach as features that are in most modern schools today, and that are included in plans for each school.
After the presentation, Larry Scott, the district's new bond director, requested feedback from the audience.
"Are you taking into consideration that parents are choosing the schools that have th high API scores," asked one local parent and elementary school teacher in the audience, who wished to remain anonymous.
Ahmad Sheikholeslami, the district's outgoing bond director and current consultant responded that yes, they are aware, and part of the plans include making sure that each South City school has standardized instructional and after-school program facilities, which will in part address the inequities.
"Is it all really going to happen?" the local parent asked later in the meeting, referring to some plans, such as missing doorstops at Monte Verde Elementary School, that never materialized with previous school district bond programs.
Gordon responded that part of what dictates whether an extensive plan such as the Measure J bond program is fully realized is the "whims of the economy" that affects the pricing of construction.
A final concern the local parent in the audience voiced was whether some parents will be forced to settle for a school that is not their first choice because of enrollment costraints.
"That is public education," Hogan said. "If we want to do neighborhood schools, that is what we'll have to do." The hope is that neighborhood schools will allow students to attend school in close proximity to where they live and relieve parents from the driving they currently have to do to get their kids to school.
An open community forum will be held Oct. 11 at City Council Chambers at 33 Arroyo Drive from 6 to 8 p.m. Attendants will be allowed to speak for 3 minutes each per topic.
Hogan said he hopes to present a close-to-final master plan to the school board in October.
If you were not at this meeting, please voice your opinions below about neighborhood schools and other issues raised here.