Dear Patch Readers,
I am writing to you to ask for your support for the Crystal Springs Uplands School (CSUS) middle school on 6 – 8 and 10 Davis Drive. I live in Belmont Heights and both my sons attended Fox Elementary School and now Charles Armstrong School in Belmont. I have lived in Belmont for eleven years and am originally from Greenwich, CT outside New York City. Up until one year ago I had never followed the Belmont political scene. I am a SAHM and was busy taking care of my two young sons. One of the main reasons I started paying attention to local politics, is that last fall when my sons started at CAS I heard through several Belmont residents that CAS wanted to build a gym and was turned down. (CAS is a private school for children grades 2 - 8 who have language based learning differences such as dyslexia. CAS is a nationally known school and only one of three on the West Coast.) Sad to say I looked into it and it was true. Belmont voted it down about six years ago. According to many people I have spoken with including neighbors who lived directly next to the school, the school got a raw deal, mind you CAS has been in Belmont since 1984. In any event, there is absolutely nothing that can be done about this now and CAS will never try again to get a gym built in Belmont. Clearly, they are better off trying to build in San Francisco. By the way, this cost the school $500,000 in consultant, architect fees etc.
So what does that have to do with the CSUS proposal? Some of the same exact people on the planning commission and the city council who blocked the CAS proposal are blocking the CSUS proposal. CAS deserved a gym. Just last week my 8 year old son came home from school and said, "Mom, I heard the gym teacher muttering to himself “All I wanted was a gym” while he dragged the balls and assorted sports equipment across the field and putting them back in the storage sheds." This teacher is LOVED by the children at the school and has been teaching at the school for over 25 years. He is an institution at the school. It broke my heart to hear this story. (Exercise is extremely important to the children at this school. They get brain breaks every half hour. Many of these kids are simply wired for movement…sports, p/e, movement classes are part of the curriculum. ) In any event, I have listened via the web or attended every meeting since last spring regarding the CSUS proposal because, I was genuinely concerned about the decision making process in Belmont. I truly understand people’s apprehension to the proposal and respect all opinions. However, after careful examination CSUS has answered my questions, mitigated my concerns and sweetened the pot financially.
I would like to state why I support the CSUS proposal. 1) It will benefit Belmont financially. There will be a one time $1 million payment and $250K yearly payments to Belmont. They have also offered to give $250K to help with traffic improvements at Davis Drive and Ralston. 2) We will be able to use the all weather soccer field on the weekends and for three weeks during August. 3) CSUS has academic summer programs for those residents who wish to pay for them. 4) It is a racially diverse school, which gives out $2 million in financial aid to those families who qualify. However, I would like to see continued outreach to the Latino, African American and students with learning differences. (By the way, the Catholic schools in the United States have been very successful on this front.) 5) Instead of old, decrepit buildings on Davis Drive we will have new state-of-the-art, LEED Silver Certified , architecturally pleasing green buildings. 6) They have mitigated the noise problem by enclosing the swimming pool and there will be a gymnasium for sports. 7) It is a small school of 240 children. They will not be allowed to expand at this site. 8) It will provide another middle school option for those families in both the public schools and the private schools. 9) CSUS will use vans, shuttles and carpooling to help mitigate the traffic. 10) It has been in operation for 60 years and is financially sound. As well as being one of the top middle schools in the entire United States according to many publications such as The Wall Street Journal and Washington Post. 11) And lastly, private schools actually save Belmont money, because those same children could be enrolled in public schools at taxpayer’s expense.
If the CSUS proposal is not approved, a private company can buy the building and pack in 800 employees. There will be no summer school, no soccer field, no environmentally LEED Silver Certified building and potentially even more traffic than CSUS will generate. I truly respect all opinions and applaud all those Belmont citizens who are trying to educate themselves on this very critical issue. I am optimistic that the Belmont City Council will vote in favor of this project on October 9, 2012. It is a win, win for everyone! Thank you for reading.
Mary Beth Kelley