Goal: Positively impact student experiences
April 25, 2019
June 11, 2019
PAUSD School Bus

A few changes have been made related to school placement procedures for students enrolled in PAUSD schools via the Voluntary Transfer Program (VTP) for the 19-20 school year. The goal of these changes is to positively impact student experiences.

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  1. Reduce length of the bus ride for students
  2. Reduce the isolation of VTP students at a school site when VTP enrollment numbers are small

Background Information:

  • PAUSD receives 60 students in grades K-2 yearly. The number may rise slightly by the following circumstance; first year of enrollment in PAUSD student drops.  That drop is added to 60 (example; 5 kinders drop in 2017-18, so for 2018-19 PAUSD must take 65 students).
  • In 2014 PAUSD staff reviewed VTP community meeting minutes, focus groups, and student interviews. 
  • Racial isolation and busing arose as two factors that affect the VTP student experience.  The superintendent at that time requested to receive up to 100 VTP students yearly.  Due to the Tinsley program being court ordered this was not possible.  A bus was purchased for Palo Alto and Gunn High School students were allowed on the Fletcher route.
  • Each year a high number of transfers requesting to move from Fletcher or Gunn high school citing transportation and distance are processed.

2019-20 Plan and Actions Taken:

  • Leadership discussed how to address the VTP family concerns.
  • The number of students in PAUSD south/west cluster, which includes Fletcher middle school has the longest bus route and is furthest from East Palo Alto.
  • It was decided to gradually phase out enrollment of students from elementary schools that feed to Fletcher; Nixon, Barron Park, Juana Briones. Palo Verde will also be gradually phased out.
  • Current 5th grade families at these sites were asked if they wanted to transfer to Greene or JLS.  10 out of 12 families chose to transfer.  The families who decided to stay had siblings at Fletcher.
  • Busing would continue to allow for 3rd graders to finish their stay at their current elementary sites.
  • All K-5 families were asked if they wanted to voluntarily move to the following sites: Duveneck, Addison, Hayes, El Carmelo, Fairmeadow or Escondido
  • Families may choose to stay at current sites.
  • Busing will continue for 2019-20 and 2020-21.
  • In 2021-22 families can choose to stay or transfer to a site that has busing.

Frequently Asked Questions:

  • Will students continue to attend Gunn High School?
    • Yes, El Carmelo, Fairmeadow, Hoover and Ohlone will go to JLS Middle School and then move on to Gunn High School.  Duveneck, Addison, Escondido and Walter Hayes will go to Greene Middle School and then move on to Palo Alto High School.
  • My family decided to stay at Juana Briones and provide our own transportation. Can my family continue on to Fletcher Middle School?
    • Yes, the student will be able to attend Fletcher, since you are providing transportation
  • Will I be forced to move sites?
    • No, all moves are voluntary
  • Was this decision based on reducing costs?
    • No, the bus routes will be reorganized to go to fewer sites and reduce the bus ride. Instead of VTP buses going to 18 sites they will go to 13 sites.
  • How does this address racial isolation?
    • When placing students at all 12 elementary sites, plus Greendell, there are only 3-4 students placed in kindergarten per site. As VTP students disenroll (for a variety of reasons) there is sometimes only one VTP student remaining at a grade level. By placing larger groups of students at fewer elementary sites, the feelings of being the ‘only VTP student’ will be addressed.
  • Can the decision to eliminate busing to the West cluster starting in 2021-22 be revisited at the end of 2020-21?
    • Yes, leadership has reviewed feedback and the current K-2 students who wish to stay will be provided transportation until they complete elementary.