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Gilroy
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February 1, 2023

1,000 students at one middle school in Gilroy – it’s absurd

Ascension Solorsano Middle School, which will surpass the
1,000-student mark in the fall, and the community are feeling the
impacts of the double-edged-sword federal legislation known as No
Child Left Behind.
1. Transfer requests must be honored under the PI rules

Ascension Solorsano Middle School, which will surpass the 1,000-student mark in the fall, and the community are feeling the impacts of the double-edged-sword federal legislation known as No Child Left Behind.

Because the two other Gilroy Unified School District middle schools, Brownell and South Valley – have been classified, for different reasons as “program improvement” schools, requests from parents to transfer students to non-PI schools must be honored.

Thus the population at Solorsano swells while the number of students at Brownell and South Valley drops below 700. There’s logic to the notion, too, that the status of the respective schools becomes self-fulfilling because of “bright flight” – the bright students leaving the other schools for Solorsano.

2. Traffic and parental involvement stand out as community issues

Meanwhile, Solorsano Principal Sal Tomasello and his dedicated staff get rewarded for their good work with a crushing number of students.

In the community, traffic becomes nightmarish and the notion of increased parental involvement that goes along with neighborhood schools is obliterated.

On balance, perhaps, is the fact that Brownell and South Valley, with shrinking populations, have to deal with less students.

3. Faced with the current reality, the absurdity becomes clear

But the whole NCLB system seems ridiculous when considering the amount of money the district has to spend to build more facilities at Solorsano to house the extra students. What if that money going into portables and more bathrooms went into classroom support at the two other middle schools?

There has to be a better plan.

The idea of creating competition to better our schools makes sense on a basic level. But in a real situation such as GUSD faces, huge chinks in the NCLB armor are exposed because the system, in some sense, is leaving students at Brownell and South Valley further and further behind.

The NCLB rules need revision so that PI schools close to making the grade get the support needed to get out of “jail.”

Meanwhile, Gilroy parents should consider jumping a school’s ship carefully. There’s merit in being part of the solution.

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