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Margaret Todd Senior Center
1560 Hill Rd, Novato, CA 94947
Residents 50 and over will find a wealth of resources and fun at the city-run Margaret Todd Senior Center. The facilityMore is home to a popular banquet hall, countless events and classes for seniors, the Novato Independent Elders Program and the Novato Senior Citizens Club. Nearly every event there -- from dances to health fairs to computer classes to bingo -- is held to encourage seniors to connect with each other. The ballroom, with attached commercial kitchen, is available for rent and is used regularly by service groups such as the Rotary club. The city, which has experienced financial instability in recent years, is struggling to keep the senior center a funding priority. Organizers hope strong attendance at regular gatherings will convince the decision makers to keep the center open.
City of Novato Community Development
75 Rowland Way, Novato, CA 94945
The city's Community Development Department, headed by Dave Wallace, oversees planning, building, code enforcement andMore housing within the city limits. Any future commercial development projects must go through a rigorous review by Community Development before they are presented to the Novato City Council for approval. One goal of the department is to make sure future development is consistent with the desires of the community and follows previously approved plans. The city's General Plan is updated by Community Development staff every few years, with input from citizen volunteers, to give the city a target guideline for the future. Incorporated cities must update their General Plans by state law.
Novato Police Department
909 Machin Ave, Novato, CA 94945

Novato is protected by a police force of 58 sworn officers and 19 support staff, based at the station at Machin andMore De Long avenues in the Old Town area.

Under Chief Joseph Kreins, NPD's organizational chart shows two captains, three lieutentants, an investigations sergeant, a traffic sergeant, six more sergeants, two detectives and 33 officers. Kreins said statistics prove that Novato is safter than most cities of comparable size, including San Rafael and Petaluma. In 2009, violent crimes in Novato fell for the second consecutive year (157 in 2007, 118 in 2008, 102 in 2009). The total number of crimes committed in 2009 was almost identical to what it was 20 years ago, according to the Department of Justice.

The police have not been immune to city budget cuts made to combat sagging property taxes and sales taxes. Staffing is 1.096 officers per 1,000; the FBI recommends 2.0 officers per 1,000 citizens. San Rafael and Petaluma are both at 1.3 officers per 1,000 people. In 2011-12, Novato police will be forced to lay off three sworn officers, bringing the total to 55.

The station, completed in 1979, includes a garden completed in 2009 donated by Novato resident Jacques Bitton, his family and many other contributors. The garden is on the south side of the station and serves as a break area for police personnel itching for a break from the office or their patrol cruisers.

Hamilton Meadow Park School
1 Main Gate Rd, Novato, CA 94949

Hamilton Meadow Park School serves one of the newest sections of the city, one that has blossomed in the past 15More years out of what used to be Hamilton Air Force Base and the residential area known as Hamilton Field. Today it's just called Hamilton, and its citizens run the gamut from white collar to welfare recipients.

The school is just off the Highway 101 frontage road called Nave Drive, and a stone's throw from the vintage Hamilton Field archway on Main Gate Road.

The student body is comprised of kids mostly from Hamilton (including the sector called Meadow Park) and the nearby Pacheco Valle area on the other side of Highway 101. Enrollment plunged when the Air Force and other military personnel moved out in the early 1990s, but the student population has bounced back as new housing was built over the past decade.

The school is one of eight elementary schools in the Novato Unified School District, but it also has sixth and seventh grades to accommodate the need in the area and slow the flow of students to San Jose Middle School in Ignacio. In 2010-11 it is scheduled to add eighth grade as well.

Hamilton has 27 classrooms, a multipurpose room/cafeteria, a library, two staff lounges, a computer lab, an art/music room and two large playgrounds.

Hamilton's elementary API index for the 2008-2009 academic year was 845. The state has set 800 as the score schools should strive to meet.

As of the 2009-2010 school year, the ethnic breakdown of the student body included 44.8 percent Hispanics, 37.7 percent whites, 8.4 percent African Americans and 5.3 percent Asian Americans. The sixth graders were 52.1 percent whites, 36 percent Hispanics, 5 percent Asian Americans and 4.9 percent African Americans.

Thirty-seven percent of the elementary students in 2009-2010 and 29 percent of the sixth graders were considered English language learners, slightly above district averages.

The socioeconomic status of the families in the Hamilton area is below  the district average. The school has 57 percent of its kids labled as socioeconomically challenged compared with the district average of 32.9 percent, according to district statistics (socioeconomically disadvantaged students are those receiving free or reduced lunch or when neither parent is a high school graduate). Forty-two percent of the school's parents had college degrees, below the district average of 53 percent.