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Council Corner: A Renewed Partnership

This week's opinion letter from the City Council comes from Councilmember Steve Okamoto

Location, location, location. These three words are magic to the professionals in the real estate industry. They feel that the value of a piece of property rises and falls based on where the property is located. However, I use another set of three words to describe value…location, location, education. These three words describe what families use when considering a move into a new town. They want to be sure that this community has the best schools and that their children will receive the best education so they will be prepared for entry into the 21st century.

Foster City has always been known for its excellent schools. A recent report from the California Department of Education describing the Academic Performance Index (API) scores of all schools in the San Mateo-Foster City District showed that the three elementary schools in Foster City, Audubon, Brewer Island and Foster City Elementary had the highest API scores of all 15 elementary schools in the district and that Bowditch Middle School led the other middle schools with the highest API scores as well.

The performance of these schools clearly demonstrates why families are moving into town. We’re getting a lot of new students and, at the same time, our property values have maintained their prices in spite of what else is going on with the rest of the state.

With an influx of new students and an already overburdened school population, there seems to be compelling evidence that we do need another elementary school and that Bowditch will soon need to be expanded as well. The school district has been trying for many years to find a suitable site to build that 4th school but to-date has not been successful. At a recent school board meeting the trustees along with the superintendent felt that it would be useful and desirable to reach out to the community to receive input so that a 4th school location could be identified. They plan to set up an advisory group consisting of interested community members to work together, discuss alternatives and, hopefully, come up with an option or two that can be agreed upon. The writing of this article is prior to a joint City Council/School District Board meeting on the 26th, but I am hoping at that meeting, parameters would be determined on the make-up of the advisory group and how interested residents can either serve on this group or attend its meetings. These opportunities will be well advertised.

Just as important as school performance, “location” in terms of schools means that children can get to and from schools safely. The school district and the city have been having fruitful discussions so we can get the children to school safely. An important component of that safety is to have school crossing guards at critical intersections at our three elementary schools. Rather than engaging in any ‘finger pointing’ as to who should be paying the cost of the crossing guards the committee has focused on child safety as the primary issue and that, together, we will find a solution to the funding of the crossing guards.

Several options were discussed on how we could pay for these guards. We discussed trying to secure a grant or reaching out to PTA’s, individuals and to the business community for their assistance.

If you have any thoughts as to how we could fund this most important child safety issue I would welcome your input. Please call me at City Hall, 286-3501 or email me at sokamoto@fostercity.org. I would love to hear from you.

Troy March 30, 2012 at 02:50 AM
Foster City has been having a child explosion for the last several years (ask a Foster City pediatrician.) The schools are great, but most of the people moving in here now is because the price of houses has dropped dramatically (ask a local agent, they'll tell you) Not just because of the schools. I've had several friends and neighbors sell at dramatic losses, some are holding on until things get better. Someday Foster City will recover and house prices will rise, and get closer to normal for a place as great as our city.
Christine March 30, 2012 at 07:32 AM
Steve, I completely agree w/ your comment that for families it is about location and education. We bought our house in Foster City a few yrs ago before we even had kids for these exact reasons. Now that we have a 3 yr old and she will start school in a couple yrs, all the news lately about the overcrowded schools has made us worried. We love this community but for young families, education is a priority. I worry if things don't get better, we will end up moving to another school district. Other families we know are contemplating the same thing. I hope you and your trustees can gain alignment on a solution in a timely manner. If not, I do believe the demographics of this community and the types of families choosing to buy homes here will change and home prices will be affected.
Sheila Serkanic March 31, 2012 at 08:36 PM
Since the district refused to add a second story to Foster City School, don't tell me they need more land.. board member told us that 1--they can't build a second story on FC land, 2--Foster City can give them more land like Boothbay Park, etc. Come on Foster City, stick up for our kids, taxpayer money, our city--don't we deserve a high school for our children like all other communities. We are the largest city in California without a high school. California schools rank 48th in the country--don't talk about excellence. We're 48th!!
Sheila Serkanic March 31, 2012 at 08:52 PM
Location, location, location. Why is the City and Council keeping hidden that the proposed Sr. housing on the our high school site must be, by law be 1/3 HUD? It will devalue our homes, increase taxes to pay for more police, landscaping maintenance, etc ? And, guess what, over flooding our schools. This IS THE BEST land on the peninsula--why can't all of the citizens enjoy that location.
Troy March 31, 2012 at 08:58 PM
I agree with you on the high school, as everybody knows, and if I had won the Mega Millions last night we most likely would get one =) I haven't heard that we can't add a second story to Foster City public schools. I do know that our mayor and one council member suggested that as an option. My suggestion as well. I certainly don't want to see Boothbay Park chopped up or Charter Square used to build an elementary school (that doesn't make sense for several reasons.)
Troy March 31, 2012 at 09:03 PM
Hi Sheila, high schools cost money and their proposed development of the 15 acres is to make money. I just feel that they're not looking at the long term need of the land. Once we use up all our land, then what? Fill in more of the bay?

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