When communities such as Forest Park are planned, the city planners count on set percentages of demographics within the area. They count on a specific percentage of singles, young families (with young children), developed families (with children in junior and high schools) and retirees (with no children). Based on these percentages, they plan the number of seats they will need in a specific elementary school based on their demographic model and the number and types of homes they have approved to be built that will feed the school.
In the case of Forest Park, once the school was built, it quickly developed a reputation as one of Fremontâ€™s top schools: itâ€™s in a great area, has a wonderful facility and a superb team of teachers. As itsâ€™ reputation grew, more young families sought to get into Forest Park (a rather small geographic area) and singles and retirees moved out. As a consequence, there are now more young families in Forest Park than planned for, and the result is that not all of the children who are qualified to attend the school can actually do so. Since Forest Park is not adding additional classrooms, a lottery is the current solution.
Initially, students who could not get into Forest Park elementary were moved over to Ardenwood Elementary. As this happened, API scores for Ardenwood began to rise and Ardenwood proper also began to be a magnet for young families. The same thing happened in Ardenwood that began in Forest Park. Ardenwood Elementary reached a point where it could also no longer handle the number of students pushing to get in. At that point, students started getting moved over to Warwick, Oliveira and Parkmont. Where an interesting thing started to happen: API scores started to rise for those schools as well.
Here is an interesting thought: as both Ardenwood schools continue to send students to other schools, the other school scores will most likely continue to rise. There is also a direct correlation between school scores and the price of homes in any given area. The higher the API, the higher the home prices.
) Iâ€™m suggesting that you may be better off to look in peripheral neighborhoods rather than focus on Forest Park per se. You will get more home for your money and chances are, by the time your children make it to the elementary classroom, scores will have risen as well. In addition, you will find homes that typically have larger yards which are certainly more conducive to childrenâ€™s safety and play habits.
Let me make another commentary: there is a misconception in the community that API scores are the benchmark that determines the future outlook of the students. In reality, this is simply not true. It is the parents and their involvement with their children in conjunction with a school that determines an individual studentâ€™s success. Ironically, a very large percentage of the key innovators whoâ€™ve fueled the computer revolution here in the Bay Area did not go to high ranking elementary schools. And many of the foreign nationals who are living here now and contributing the overall success of the Bay Area didnâ€™t attend a school here in the USA that had an API score of any kind. And, in contrast, I can point to countless examples of students who DID go to top-notch schools whoâ€™ve washed out and have landed in the dregs of mediocrity.
Bottom line: Iâ€™m challenging parents to take a hard look at the current rush to â€œhigh-rankedâ€ schools and consider that there may indeed be another option. In fact, when you look at the overall quality of life, it may in fact be a better option.