The draft plan that Novato parents have been waiting for – school boundaries for high school and middle school – has been posted on the Novato Unified School District’s website. It is now available for public comment and feedback before the final draft is presented to the school board later this spring.
The three-page recommendation is short on explanation but has maps of the high school and middle school boundaries proposed, projected student headcounts and plan’s effects to the Hispanic demographic at each school.
The Hispanic demographic shows very little change at the high school level with the existing percentage of Hispanic students at Novato High School rising from 35 percent to 36.6 percent. The projected total student count for Novato High grades 9-12 is 1102.
The number of Hispanic students at San Marin drops from 22 percent to 21.6 percent of its projected student population of 1168.
At the middle school level, the most noteworthy change is at San Jose Middle School where the under the existing boundary, the percentage of Hispanic students is 39.7 percent. That number rises to 43.8 percent under the new boundary plan.
The percentage and number of students participating in the National Student Lunch Program (NSLP) is also shown on the data sheet.
By headcount, 249 students at San Jose Middle School currently participate in the NSLP. Under the new boundary that number is projected to rise to 268 students, roughly a four percent increase.
In October 2011, the district hired Sacramento consultant, Jack Schreder & Associates to develop the proposed boundary realignment as part of a Master Facilities Plan. In the process, a Facilities Planning Committee was formed, made up of parents, teachers and principals from the district.
The committee’s criteria when drafting boundaries included creating and maintaining schools of similar size, considering socio-economic and ethnic balance, clear feeder patterns and continuity from elementary school through high school, and boundaries that would allow students to safely walk or bike to school.
According to Leslie Benjamin, spokesperson for the school district, the recommended plan has been posted to allow the public to comment either by e-mail or at the next community meeting scheduled this month.
“The committee will be taking comments and feedback from the public before it makes its recommendations to the school board in March or April,” Benjamin said.
The facilities committee also recommends that students have the option to stay in the school they are already attending, even after the new boundaries are approved.
“That seems to be a big concern for our community so the committee is recommending a grandfather clause for all current K-12 students,” Benjamin said.
If that grandfather clause is approved, students who choose to attend a different school than their “resident school” would submit an intra-district transfer for enrollment, according to Benjamin.
The next community meeting on the Boundary Study/Facility Master Plan will be held Wednesday, Feb. 15 at 6 p.m. at San Marin High School’s student center.