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Provide Equitable Facilities for Booksin Elementary School

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Dear Board of Education Members,

It is with extreme concern that we, as parents in the Booksin community, are compelled to write to you regarding the pending changes for Booksin Elementary School for the 2017-2018 school year. Booksin’s population has been steadily growing, despite the decline in SJUSD enrollment for the last several years. With the addition of 2 new classes and approximately 55 additional students, it is not currently possible for the district to fulfill its obligation, as stated in Goal 4 of the Draft LCAP for 2017-2018, to “prepare today’s students to be the thinkers, leaders, and creators of tomorrow with enhanced resources that make the extraordinary ordinary.”* In particular, the action associated with this goal states that the district “must continue to allocate resources in response to the identified needs of our students.”* The proposed changes are in violation of this goal, and perhaps more importantly, in violation of the district’s mission “to eliminate the opportunity gap and provide every student with the finest 21st century education.”** After your careful consideration of the points below, we request that you provide adequate facilities for our students, including:

  1. Providing space to accommodate the enrichment programs the Booksin Elementary School Community Association (BESCA) funds for ALL the students attending Booksin
  2. Adding appropriate number of toilets, for students and staff alike, to meet CA Department of Education requirements***
  3. Bringing our TK & Kindergarten spaces up to CA Department of Education requirements, with restrooms located in the assigned classroom or wing***
  4. Upgrading our multi-purpose room to safely accommodate students during curriculum-based assemblies and functions, allowing staff to satisfy the common core requirements in related subjects

Booksin’s projected enrollment exceeds the capacity of our facility.

  • 2016-17 enrollment was 857. Projected enrollment for 2017-18 is 904. With projected enrollment and the breakdown of classes at each grade level, Booksin has the potential to reach a total population of 930 this school year. Booksin maintains approximately 50 staff members, including administrators, front office, teachers, intervention support.
  • Booksin is already the 2nd largest elementary school in SJUSD. The average enrollment in elementary schools in SJUSD is 556.**** The average for Santa Clara county is 529.**** Booksin is nearly twice the size of these averages, yet we continue to see increased enrollment numbers every year, despite a decline in SJUSD enrollment. Merritt Trace, the largest elementary school in SJUSD has a dedicated and separate kindergarten campus, bringing their main campus population down to approximately 780 students.
  • Projected enrollment of 904 will put Booksin out of compliance with the California Department of Education requirement for toilet ratios for students and staff. Per the CA Dept of Ed K-12 Toilet Requirements, males require toilets & urinals at a rate of 1:50 for toilets and 1:100 for urinals, and females require toilets at a rate of 1:30.*** "The California Plumbing Code does not require specific toilets for staff and students. However, for safety and liability concerns CDE recommends that separate toilets be provided for staff."*** Booksin currently has urinal capacity for 700 males, toilet capacity for 400 males, and toilet capacity for 480 females. Booksin is projected to have approximately 457 males (staff and students) and 494 females (staff and students). Based on projections, adequate bathroom facilities will neither be available for students nor staff.
  • An additional TK classroom puts Booksin out of compliance with the CA Department of Education requirement for toilet facilities for kindergarten students. The California Code of Regulations, Title 5, Section 14030 "requires that toilets for kindergarten students be provided in the kindergarten classroom or in the kindergarten complex."*** As only 3 Booksin classrooms currently meet this requirement, Booksin does not have adequate space to provide this for 2 TK classes and 5 kindergarten classes.
  • With the 2016-17 enrollment of 857 students, we already have to run assemblies in three “shifts” to accommodate students given the capacity of our multi-purpose room. The projected enrollment for 2017-18 of 904 will require a 4th “shift” to accommodate students and stay within fire code regulations. This  creates undue burden on students and staff and increases the cost of enrichment programs, as additional assemblies are required.
  • The Booksin neighborhood will be negatively impacted with the additional students on campus. Traffic flow during drop off is already poor, with inadequate space to safely drop off students and a small parking lot. Neighbors have been very supportive of Booksin, but an increase in population shortly following the discontentment over the solar panel installation may cause additional conflict with the community.

Booksin’s increased enrollment negatively impacts our population because we do not have the space to continue our enrichment programs, such as Science Lab, Art@Booksin, and Music; further, this lack of adequate facilities is unequitable with neighboring elementary schools in SJUSD.

  • In 2016-17, Booksin had a part-time certificated science teacher funded by BESCA. This teacher provided science labs to ALL Booksin students as an enrichment to the science curriculum taught by grade level teachers. This program has contributed to our student’s success in science, with 89.1% of our students testing as proficient or advanced AND 76.2% of our socioeconomically disadvantaged students testing as proficient or advanced.*****
  • In the 2017-18 year, Booksin will lose the science teacher position, as the district no longer allows parents/community organizations to fund teacher salaries. While we respect this policy, it results in a significant impact to our students, as it is not possible to finance the same level of instruction with at outside vendor for less than 2-3x the cost of the part-time certificated resource. Most external vendors require a space to run a science push-in. However,  we are losing our science lab to accommodate new students.
  • The LCAP states a goal to“provide a high-quality and comprehensive instructional program."* Pushing programs into the classroom is an option, but for programs that require significant setup and cleanup, such as science lab, pushing into the classroom is more disruptive to instructional time and impacts all the classrooms on campus instead of just one room. Limiting our enrichment programs is counter to providing a “high-quality and comprehensive instructional program.”
  • SJUSD repeatedly points to their “equity policy”.****** While we are strongly supportive of more resources being directed to schools with a higher population of low SES students, it is not equitable to remove the ability for BESCA to provide enrichment programs to our students. While representation from staff may indicate otherwise, we have learned that most elementary schools in SJUSD have at least 2 rooms available for programs such as art, music, theater, band, etc. It is inequitable to provide Booksin one single space to accommodate 31 classes for each of art, science, music, PE, Recess 101, and more. This is even more concerning given that neighborhood schools, such as Schallenberger, have empty classrooms,while other elementary schools, such as Merritt Trace, have 3 dedicated specialized classrooms for art, music, and drama and full time district provided teachers for each program.
  • The Art@Booksin program is run entirely by volunteers and funded by BESCA. It is a highlight for many students on campus, but it requires significant space to house the supplies and conduct the lessons. Significant investment has been made to develop a curriculum that is tied to the common core curriculum, and with the program’s great success in just 2 years, we’ve begun offering the program to other elementary schools within SJUSD.
  • The 2017-18 LCAP Draft points to feedback received during the LCAP feedback process earlier this year. “Families asked for additional opportunities and supports for students at different levels and continued efforts to differentiate instruction.”* BESCA is providing these opportunities to our students at no cost to the district, yet we require the space to offer them. 

Booksin is losing resources while gaining students, and it will negatively impact ALL of our students.

  • In 2016-17, Booksin had 2 intervention specialists. In 2017-18, we are losing 1 of these resources. In addition to providing support to students working below grade level, our intervention specialist offered enrichment to students performing above grade level, such as the Spelling Bee, the Geography Bee, and weekly math pull-outs.
  • In SJUSD’s strategic plan, OPPORTUNITY21, Strategy 1.2, Objective 1 reads, “Intervention and enrichment: Identify instructional needs of all students, including those behind and ahead of grade level, and provide an effective response to help achieve full potential.”******* We see this strategy applied to students behind grade level, but we are losing resources able to address needs of students ahead of grade level.

In summary, with the understanding that Booksin Elementary will be exceeding capacity in 2017-18 with a negative impact on our students, we formally request that the Board of Education provides facility upgrades to Booksin prior to the start of the 2017-18 school year or reduces the school enrollment numbers to safely and adequately educate our students. Facility upgrades must include space for our programs, adequate restrooms to adhere to the CA Dept of Education requirements, multi-purpose space that can accommodate our large population, and adequate intervention resources and support staff to serve our community. Thank you in advance for your thoughtful consideration and for supporting the needs of the Booksin community.

* San Jose Unified’s 2017-20 Draft Local Control and Accountability Plan (LCAP) 

**San Jose Unified’s Vision & Mission Statement 

***California Department of Education Toilet Requirement

****Source: EdData

*****Booksin Elementary School 2015-16 SARC

******San Jose Unified Website

*******San Jose Unified’s 2016-17 LCAP 


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