By Aadi Sudan
School rezoning is a hotly debated issue. For those who don’t know what it is, rezoning is a process where schools change their attendance areas. In other words, the school adjusts the area in which one must live in order to go to and actually be allowed to attend the school. For instance, if a school makes it so that one has to live within 5 miles in order to attend, that means that anyone living further than 5 miles away is not permitted to go to that school, and they must instead go to another school. There are certain exceptions but these are the rules that most public schools follow. The reason these zones exist is so that parents send their kids to schools that are close to home instead of far away. At first, one might think, “oh, that means that if a school expands its attendance area, it has to be a good thing.” After all, the wider the zone, the more people can attend it, right? The reason that this can be seen as an issue is that if a school cuts into another school’s attendance area, then the people living in that area are split between which school to attend. This can lead to certain schools losing dozens of students, which is obviously terrible for their profits and revenue. That is similar to what is happening with the Lynbrook-Miller rezoning. Recently, Cupertino Union School District has announced that they plan to redefine their attendance borders, changing the residential requirements for attending certain schools. This decision has had several effects that have been protested against.
To understand the issues, we must first understand why this rezoning is even happening. Simply put, it all comes down to money. CUSD has hit a budget deficit. This is not a complete shock given the state of the pandemic right now but nevertheless, CUSD chose to deal with this budget deficit by expanding its zoning. This is, business-wise, the right thing to do, as rezoning will allow more students to be admitted and more money to be brought in by the entire district. However, there has been a lot of backlash following this decision, particularly because this rezoning will see several other schools close down. Among these schools are Meyerholz, Regnart, and De Vargas, all part of CUSD.
Parents are infuriated that their neighborhood schools will be closing due to a budget deficit, and many are expressing their disappointment through a united program dubbed “Save Meyerholz”.
The program sees parents put up signs and even write messages on their cars’ back windshields in an attempt to protest the rezoning. An active member of that program, Peng Liu, stated that “In [her] opinion, [the budget deficit] is not a huge problem. Relative to their large budget, the district is only a few million dollars short.” Parents are desperate to keep their neighborhood schools open for several reasons. Firstly, it can be very stressful to find a new school that is as accommodating as the previous one, and if one does manage to find a replacement school, the commute there could be longer, it could end up costing parents more money, and the quality of the school could fail to meet expectations. Additionally, it could be very stressful for students to have to switch schools, as they have to get used to a new campus, new teachers, and even new students. It could also be particularly stressful for them because they may be forced to say goodbye to old friends and attempt to make new ones.
Some people involved in the program are even pointing out the lack of economic feasibility in the program. Peng Liu points out that “One of the moves the district board is considering would close 10 out of the 25 elementary schools. That is not reasonable because the budget gap is so small, and the impact of closing so many schools is huge”, indicating that by going through with rezoning, CUSD could end up losing money in the long term rather than making money. People are also offering up donations and other ways to help CUSD make ends meet and bridge the monetary gap. However, even if everyone donates money to the District, it will only be a temporary fix, as it is very possible that the rezoning issue is revisited in a few years from now. In conclusion, no matter how much parents protest, it looks like rezoning is a necessary evil for CUSD to undergo if it is to survive.