Settling an emotionally charged issue that had consumed them for 18 months, Santa Clara Unified School District trustees redrew the attendance area for popular Don Callejon School, a change that will send about 160 students to neighboring Montague Elementary next school year.
In front of the largest crowd in recent history, the board listened to 139 speakers before voting 6-1 Thursday to shrink the attendance area for Don Callejon. The district's only K-8 school opened in 2006 to serve the Rivermark community and the Mission Hub area. But rapid growth in school-age population pushed the school to 940 students this year.
With the new attendance map, in 2011-12 the school will have fewer than 900 students, Superintendent Steve Stavis said. The board voted to allow current sixth- and seventh-graders to stay at Don Callejon for the rest of their middle-school years.
Parents and children begged the board to adopt particular boundaries and grade-specific schemes. They argued that students belonged to the Don Callejon community, that Montague, about a mile from some of their homes, was too far away, and that Montague offered a lower-quality education because it had lower test scores.
"The test scores, as far as we're concerned, are a nonissue," Stavis said. While Don Callejon posts higher scores, Montague gained 30 points on the state's Academic Performance Index last spring, he said.
More than 500 people answered an online poll about attendance areas, and more e-mailed and called the administration, he said. The district also held three community forums and convened an advisory group about boundaries.
The district will provide a school bus for the 100-plus students from Mansion Grove, Miraval, 550 Moreland and River Terrace developments that will be assigned to Montague next year.
The district also will work with the city of Santa Clara to station more crossing guards where students cross Montague Expressway, Stavis said.
The 15,500-student Santa Clara Unified district is in the midst of a growth spurt, fueled by families with children moving into the district and by new construction in the Rivermark and River Oaks areas east of Highway 101 and in central Santa Clara.
Stavis said Montague Principal Eric Lewis is working on a transition plan, "so we'll make the move as smooth as we can."
Contact Sharon Noguchi at 408-271-3775.