Letter to the Editor: CSUS Will Threaten Quality of Education at Ralston Middle School

The author believes maintaining the quality of public schools in Belmont should be the city's top priority.

Dear Editor:

Allowing Crystal Springs Upland School (CSUS), an expensive private school, to locate right next to our excellent public school, Ralston Middle School, will threaten the quality of education at Ralston. 

CSUS will attract the best and brightest students and families in Belmont, including those with the most financial resources, away from Ralston. It will appeal to those families who now have the greatest ability to contribute financially to our public schools. It will probably also attract some of Ralston's best teachers because CSUS will offer a higher salary, beautiful campus, top-notch facilities, low student/teacher ratio, and motivated and talented students.  It will also give Ralston's students an inferiority complex, and make them less proud and enthusiastic about their own school. 

I believe the quality of our public schools should be our top priority in Belmont, and we should not diminish that quality by allowing CSUS to locate here.

Timothy E. Strinden

J Resident September 11, 2012 at 05:23 PM
Tom September 11, 2012 at 05:28 PM
Let the fear mongering begin....
Jeff Selman September 11, 2012 at 05:47 PM
This is an interesting argument in opposition that CSUS will provide so much benefit to Belmont students that it will draw them away from the public schools, and contrary to most opponents who assert that students in Belmont will not attend CSUS, and therefore it does not benefit Belmont. I will respond that I (and many others who are very active in the fundraising efforts for Ralston Middle School and the BRSSD) believe that not taking actions to enhance the economic tax base in Belmont, such as approving the CSUS proposal, will in fact be detrimental to the school district. As many of us have pointed out in the past, the BRSSD has been deficit spending for the last several years, but after this year will no longer have the ability to do so. That will require either an influx of new revenues or significant cuts. The only way that the BRSSD can bring in new revenues is to have the community approve a parcel tax. Otherwise, all other measures to enhance the property tax base are in the hands of the City. That will involve people and businesses from outside Belmont coming into Belmont. As I discuss in greater detail here, http://belmont-ca.patch.com/blog_posts/why-i-support-the-proposed-csus-middle-school, the City should not be taking steps to say that we do not want outsiders and economic growth.
Jeni September 11, 2012 at 10:59 PM
The letter says "It will appeal to those families who now have the greatest ability to contribute financially to our public schools." Doesn't CSUS already appeal to those families? Students who live in Belmont have no choice but to attend Ralston (which is a great school, of course) but since CSUS is private, anyone can apply, and they do. The school ALREADY attracts students from all over the Peninsula and beyond, such as Palo Alto and Cupertino. Parents who live in Belmont now and have Harvard-bound motivated students can apply and attend CSUS while it's in Hillsborough, especially since CSUS is only about a 10 minute drive from Belmont. It's not like CSUS relocating to Belmont will make some wealthy parents of high-achieving students think, "Well, I wasn't planning on sending my child to CSUS when it was in Hillsborough, but now that it's in my own city, I suddenly have changed my mind."
Timothy E. Strinden September 11, 2012 at 11:03 PM
Hi Mary Beth. While I agree that not many Belmont residents would enroll in CSUS due to the high cost, it would be mainly those families with the highest financial resources, who could potentially do the most to help the public schools. However, if their kids were enrolled in private schools, it is unlikely they would donate to the public schools through programs like School Force.
Timothy E. Strinden September 12, 2012 at 01:23 AM
It would be an unwelcome detour driving to CSUS in Hillsborough if you work in The City or south on the peninsula, compared to dropping off a child at Ralston. In addition, it is a big advantage if your kid can walk or ride a bike to and from school rather than needing a ride. These factors may make the difference for some families.
Annie September 12, 2012 at 06:13 PM
Timothy, most children going to Ralston do not walk or ride their bikes to school, especially the children from Redwood Shores, most children are driven or take the bus. People that are going to send their children to CSUS usually live in neighborhoods that have good schools, so it is a choice for them to send their children to private schools. Private schools also make you take an entrance exam, you are not guaranteed a spot in the school just because you want your child to attend.
Paul B. September 12, 2012 at 06:13 PM
Tim: Would you let your child if you have any bike to Davis Drive, hell I ride bikes and I won't negotiate Ralston during commute hours are you crazY?
Timothy E. Strinden September 12, 2012 at 06:31 PM
My kid walked to Ralston and biked to Carlmont.
Annie September 12, 2012 at 06:45 PM
Tim, how many years ago did your child go to Ralston and Carlmont? My kids walked to Ralston and Carlmont, I wouldn't do it now. They would be taking the bus.
Timothy E. Strinden September 12, 2012 at 06:56 PM
My son graduated from Ralston in 2003 and Carlmont in 2007. He never had any problems except that someone vandalized his bike once by bending the wheel.
Cheryl Amalu September 13, 2012 at 07:41 PM
Not everyone who chooses a private school is rich. Many people work 2 jobs and make significant sacrifices to do what they know is best for their children as my own parents did. They paid property taxes but received no educational benefit from them. My dad worked 2 and 3 jobs at times to pay for our tuition. The situation that gives public schools a monopoly on education is unjust.... and vilifying those who chose other educational options is unjust too.
Gin Nikoloff September 13, 2012 at 08:26 PM
Tim, you just insluted the proud teachers of Ralston Middle School who are my friends! There would be absolutely no change in the pride and excellent teaching from our teachers at Ralston, wow! I agree, it does give choices for the growing student population on the rise. Whether or not you can afford is "to each its own!"
Charles Stone September 15, 2012 at 01:15 AM
Timothy, Do you have any info on CSUS salaries? I don't but I'm curious if it's true that they would pay higher. Many years ago I operated under the mistaken assumption that public school teachers made less than private school teachers. I know for a fact that's not true on a nationwide average basis. http://nces.ed.gov/fastfacts/display.asp?id=55 Granted, there are SOME private schools (and CSUS may be one) that pay higher salaries and better benefits than public schools, but unless you have that information in this instance, I think it's dangerous to extrapolate out and assume teachers would flee Ralston for CSUS. I also have to admit to being a little bit insulted on behalf of Ralston Middle School students (two of which will be mine in all too short a time.) Our BRSSD kids are strong, smart, and proud. I don't think that's going to change at all just because a private school moves in next to Ralston.
Timothy E. Strinden September 15, 2012 at 01:25 AM
Thanks for the link, Charles. No, I don't have any info on CSUS salaries. I assumed they would be higher than public school salaries in order for CSUS to recruit the best teachers to justify their high tuition and retain their high standing. However, I may be wrong. Sorry if I am.
Jon September 19, 2012 at 09:58 PM
Timothy Strinden shares an affliction currently ailing approximately half of the United States of America- he believes private enterprise and competition is actually harmful to everything and everyone. Au contraire, Tim.
Timothy E. Strinden September 20, 2012 at 02:17 AM
That's about as logical as Romney's 47% comment. In fact, it's even more illogical, so you're in a special class by yourself. At least I give my full name. It's easy to take pot shots when you're anonymous.
Jon September 20, 2012 at 06:16 AM
haha Tim, what difference would it make? Are you gonna look me up and come tell me I'm stupid again? I guess that'd be preferable to you doing it on the internet.... You basically made the point that Ralston Middle School, a proud institution of Belmont, is in such a state that a new school (costing much more than other private middle schools nearby that all these rich families and all of their monies could send their children to right now) would be able to swoop in and push Ralston Middle School right down Ralston Ave. You seemed to be saying that this new school will be so much better and that all of a sudden poor, little ol' Ralston will be done for. And the kids will get an inferiority complex??? A complex?!?? I personally think that it will have a minimal impact on the Belmont public schools. You should be ashamed that you have such little faith in the school and town that we all love!


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