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Next Steps Advisory Committee creates video: Project aims to educate public on school overcrowding
August 27, 2014, 05:00 AM By Angela Swartz Daily Journal

It’s lights, camera, action — and a little bit of makeup — for members of the Next Steps Advisory Committee that’s charged with addressing increasing enrollment and its impact on school capacity and equity in San Mateo and Foster City elementary and middle schools.

In addition to the community engagement sessions that begin this month, the eight members of the committee filmed videos messages to be both posted online and presented before engagement meetings. The five- to seven-minute video is intended to highlight the capacity and equity issues in the San Mateo-Foster City Elementary School District.

“The video is used to introduce each of the engagement sessions at the beginning of meetings,” said Superintendent Cynthia Simms. “To make it a consistent presentation; not everyone will be at every (engagement) meeting.”

The committee began meeting in March and enlisted the help of the Peninsula Conflict Resolution Center and consultant Tish Busselle in June to coordinate hosting meetings to gather feedback on ways to alleviate the lack of facilities in the district, with potential town halls, focus groups, community forums, attendance at pre-existing events and other strategies. The first community meeting was Aug. 19 with County Superintendent Anne Campbell’s office.

Members taped at Peninsula TV in San Carlos Tuesday night. The focus of the video is to educate viewers about the overcrowding and equity issues. Overcrowding remains a concern, as each year approximately 250 more students join the district’s elementary and middle schools. This means 75 additional classrooms are needed, according to the district.

During a November 2013 $130 million bond measure campaign, Simms said the district did not actively engage its staff. The effort, Measure P, only received 46.6 percent approval, short of the 55 percent needed for passage. The measure would have cost property owners $19 per $100,000 assessed property value. Its aim was to rebuild and expand Bowditch Middle School to add Foster City fifth-graders and reopen Knolls Elementary School in San Mateo for the 2016-17 school year.

“It’s important to point out at this point we’re really looking for input,” said committee member Daniela Relaford. “That was a mistake we made before — that there was not enough input from both communities.”

Meanwhile, member Evelia Chaiarez suggested at a meeting Monday night it’d be good to include a Spanish-speaking version of the video. Since she is the only Spanish-speaking member of the committee, she agreed to read the entire script in Spanish in voiceover format. Other members agreed having a Spanish version of the video was a good idea and the members opted not to just do subtitles to reach out to community members who can’t read or simply wouldn’t be as engaged with text.

Trustee and committee member Ed Coady suggested putting a link to the video on the district website for those who can’t make it to engagement or Next Steps meetings. There may also be a Next Steps district sponsored website, Simms said.

In terms of the upcoming meetings, there was a presentation to the Montessori Task Force this month. The group is planning to present this fall to the leadership team of the district, the Foster City Lions Club, the San Mateo United Homeowners Association, the San Mateo City Manager’s Office, Assemblyman Kevin Mullin, D-South San Francisco, and the Foster City Parks and Recreation Department, among other meetings.

Meeting one on one, in small group settings and ultimately in town hall forums, the committee and the Peninsula Conflict Resolution Center hope to attract hundreds of stakeholders, such as PTAs, teachers, parents, newspapers, the “No on P” campaign, city staff, unions, environmental groups, chambers of commerce in San Mateo and Foster City, church groups, site councils, Realtors, senior citizens and others. The committee intends to ask for stakeholder input in guiding the next steps the district should take to address the school capacity and equity challenge, according to the district. Other engagement strategies the group is looking at are phone surveys, home visits, advertising, ice cream socials, design thinking events and other methods.

The video should be completed by Sept. 4.

The Next Steps next meeting is 5:30 p.m.-7 p.m. Sept. 8 at the district office, 1170 Chess Drive in Foster City.

(650) 344-5200 ext. 105



Tags: district, committee, video, foster, meeting, school,

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