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Residents want boundaries for schools to shift
November 08, 2012, 05:00 AM By Heather Murtagh Daily Journal Staff

Two school districts in disagreement over which one rightfully includes a nine-acre parcel once used for a San Bruno elementary school must once again weigh in on the dispute as residents are requesting a switch.

San Bruno students attended Carl Sandburg Elementary on Evergreen Drive in San Bruno until it was closed in 1978 due to declining enrollment. In 2005, the land was sold and, shortly after, houses were built which brought families to the area. While the land is located within San Bruno city limits, it is also located within the South San Francisco Unified School District boundary. Both San Bruno Park Elementary and South San Francisco Unified school districts saw the land as being within its boundaries. In 2010, both sides disagreed on the topic so it remained with South San Francisco.

In August, home owners from 58 of the 70 homes in the disputed area — known as the Merimont subdivision — submitted a petition to County Superintendent Anne Campbell requesting the boundaries be changed. Along with the fact that the land previously housed a school in the San Bruno district, the petitioners also note most of the neighborhood children attend school in San Bruno. As such, they would like to continue with friends through high school into the San Mateo Union High School District, according to the petition.

Before a decision can be made, each district board of trustees will vote on the petition. The South San Francisco Unified School District Board of Trustees will be the first to vote during its meeting Thursday. As proposed, staff recommends denying the petition due to the loss of income. Two public hearings will also be held through the County Office of Education. One is scheduled for the South San Francisco Unified School District Dec. 6, said Nancy Magee, county Office of Education spokeswoman. A second date will be scheduled soon for San Bruno Park Elementary and San Mateo Union High school districts. Each school district has the opportunity to object. If no one objects, the San Mateo County Committee on School District Organization can make a decision. An objection would spark a vote by property owners.

Both the South San Francisco and San Bruno districts wanted the parcel when discussing the boundary lines in 2010. The dispute centers over tax revenue from the property — more than $200,000 since the site was developed.

Currently, a number of the children living within the new development are attending its schools. However, property tax money is going to the South San Francisco district. School boundaries were drawn prior to city limits. When Carl Sandburg Elementary was built, the land was in unincorporated San Mateo County. In 1977, the Local Agency Formation Commission annexed the land to the city of San Bruno.

When the issue originally came up, San Bruno Park officials said that when the county maps were changed in regards to the city limits, the district changes were overlooked. South San Francisco Unified, on the other hand, maintained that the district lines were never meant to be changed.

It’s not only about boundaries. The boundaries dictate where property revenue is funneled.

In 2005, the San Bruno district sold the site for $30.5 million which became the land on which 70 single-family homes were built. In 2007, property tax revenue from the site began to be collected and forwarded to the South San Francisco Unified School District. If the school district boundaries are changed, future tax revenue would go to San Bruno Park Elementary and San Mateo Union High school districts instead.

This is the second time in recent history that residents have petitioned for a boundary change.

In May, 90 percent of property owners of 47 homes on Fairmont Drive in San Mateo favored switching school assignments.

As a result, the school assignments for the homes on Fairmont Drive were changed. Previously, students were zoned to attend Belmont-Redwood Shores Elementary and Sequoia Union High school districts. Under the new boundaries, students will instead attend the San Mateo-Foster City Elementary and San Mateo Union High school districts.

The South San Francisco Board of Trustees meets 7 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 8 at the South San Francisco High School library, 400 B St., South San Francisco.

Heather Murtagh can be reached by email: or by phone: (650) 344-5200 ext. 105.

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