OB Town Council, Round Two – Where Have All the Students Gone?

by on October 30, 2015 · 5 comments

in Culture, Education, Ocean Beach


Dr McQuary, Marco Drapeau and Irish Roy face the community about the loss of teachers and students at OB Elementary School. OBTC meeting, Oct 28, 2015.

By Freak Gormlie

This is Round 2 of my Halloween eve report of the town council meeting of last Wednesday, Oct. 28th. (Here’s my gonzo-type account of Round One.)

It is scary to think what OB would be like without a town council to – in a sense – keep it all together. And this current board is luckily still headed up by Gretchen Newsom as she moves into her third term. Probably the OBTC’s most liberal president in its history, Newsom, as most know by now, is also a candidate for the mayor’s seat in this here town of San Diego.

Where Have All the Students Gone?

The big monster item on the night’s agenda was framed by the question: “OB Elementary – Where have the Children Gone?” The issue had surfaced recently – in response to the transfer of 2 teachers – when parents and students staged a picket in front of the school back on October 5th.

Tonight, three from the school and school district were on hand to answer questions: Principal Marco Drapeau, a trustee from the school district Dr. Mike McQuery and Roy – with just a hint of a true Irish accent – one of the 2 people in the district demographics department.

Parent Maryann Riner – who has 2 kids at OB Elementary – led off the discussion by reading a prepared statement on behalf of a number of parents.  She decried the loss of the 2 teachers and then asserted that the school “has a stigma that needs to be erased”, citing the view of some people of all the “unsafe places” in and around the school. Homeless, she said, are found asleep on the school steps and out on the field. She claimed that part of the problem in the loss of kids is the trend of increased rents across Ocean Beach – “a big concern” she said. Someone told of a friend who took their kids out of OB and into Silver Gate due to the threats – perceived or real – of the homeless being on the campus. There was also discussion about some of the gates.

OBTC Meet 10-28-15 graph02Dr. McQuery took the lead in bringing the district’s response to the gathering. As the clock clicked late into the night, McQuery spent quite a lot of it ticking off his own personal history, his background, his experience, his kids, grand-kids, where his kids go to college. My eyes were rolling, the parents were looking impatient – it was as if he was giving a campaign speech- when finally Newsom broke in and asked him to frame the school response.

The real presentation then became with the Irish Roy – the worker bee demographer – throwing up text and graphics in his power-point presentation, which was actually more interesting than its title, “Enrollment Forecasting Methodology: Examination of Ocean Beach Elementary School’s 2015 Forecast“. A paper version of the power-point was also fortunately handed out.

OBTC Meet 10-28-15 graph01While admitting that forecasts of student enrollment can be incorrect at times, Roy explained how the OB Elementary population – which is TK-4th – “is made up of kids from either OBE’s boundary or from elsewhere. And from the school years 2010-11, the proportion of kids from within the boundaries has fluctuated from being 69.2%, and after slowly increasing, it was 83.2% in 2014-15.  (See chart).

Bottom line, and I’m not doing justice to the district’s presentation, is that the district had all these upward projections, plus a school capacity of 520 to deal with, so for the year 2015-16, they intentionally cut back on admitting students from outside the school boundary. Their numbers have gradually gone down, from nearly 31% in 2010-11 to almost 17% in 2014-15.

So, for some unknown reason or reasons, it was stated:

“expected 2015-16 resident growth to be slightly lower than in 2014-15, but concerned re capacity – cut back on NEW nonresident enrollment at OBES to ensure that school would not be over-subscribed.”

Plus added:

Forecast for 2015-16 = 476 (-11 from 2014-15)

The reason that OB lost 2 teachers was because it was down 11 students.  Charter schools, transfers, short-term vacation rentals, the homeless were all cited for a fallen residential participation in the school. And it was unexpected – after 5 years of growth. It means, we were told, fewer locals are choosing OB Elementary.

So, in terms of ‘what happened – “where did the students go?” – it was explained:

  • OB Elementary resident TK-4th grade population fell by 75 students after consistent pattern of growth;
  • A lower proportion of the TK-4th grade residents chose to attend OB (60% vs 64% in 2014-15);
  • 2015-16 Enrollment = 413 (-74 from 2014-15, compared to our forecast of 476, -11 from 2014-15)

Another woman parent spoke up here and complained that there have been communication problems. Another woman cited the vacation rentals popping up and said “families are being pushed out.” Others said one can “walk right onto campus.”

Dr. McQuery was quick to respond that the student population district-wide is going down, and that the San Diego Unified has lost 12% over recent years.

The discussion returned to the perception of security problems. When Principal Marco Drapeau spoke, his presentation was limited to explaining the problems with the various gates, and the need to make their repair a priority. Now, Marco is a really nice guy, very conscientious. I bought him a small beer at Culture Brewing later after the meeting, and he was very gracious. He is very unassuming. In direct contrast to the good doctor.

Gretchen asked that the discussion focus on solutions.  Increase the cross-guard team; need affordable housing in OB; help parents and staff promote “this incredible school”; it  has a low-turnaround of teachers, a great sign; involve PTAs and the community as advisory when making decisions on increases in students or staff or teachers.

OBie Awards

Every year, the OB Town Council hands out a generous number of “OBie Awards” to outstanding citizens, businesses or groups. The OBie Award winners are as follows:

  • Community Partner: Ocean Beach Mainstreet Association
  • Cultural Contribution: Culture Brewing Co, Ocean Beach
  • Programs for Youth: Brothers Gow Music Foundation
  • Volunteer Service: Kameron Coleman
  • Clean Beaches: Ocean Beach Sunset Cleanup Crew
  • Greening OB: Blue Dot Refill
  • Gardens and Parks: OB Native Plant Garden
  • Community Renewal: John Ambert
  • Humanitarian Service: OB Quik Stop
  • Lifetime Service Award: Mike Hardin (RIP BossMan!)
  • Citizen of the Year: Ken Moss

OBTC image 2015 HolidayHoliday Schedule

Here are the events coming up over the Nweeks of the holidays:

  • November 10 – OB Restaurant Walk – 40+ restaurants are participating; tickets will sell out early;
  • Nov. 28 – Craft Fairs;
  • Dec 1st: Christmas Tree arrives;
  • Dec 2nd: decorating the tree;
  • Dec. 3rd – OB Auction, 6:30 – 9pm;
  • Dec 5th – Sat – Holiday Parade begins at 5:05pm (there are 35 spots left);
  • TBA – Home Decoration Contest;
  • Tuesday, Dec. 15 – Food & Toy Drive, 5:30- 8 or 9pm; over multiple days – sorting, accepting, organizing and delivering food and toys; local restaurants bring food to volunteers.

Need for Volunteers – the OB Town Council will need a 100 volunteers to help staff the Holiday Parade on December 5th. Please go to their website for further info.

“Joy to the Sea, 36 Years Celebrating OB”

Applications Still Being Accepted for Holiday Parade

The OB Town Council is still accepting applications for entry into the 36th Annual Ocean Beach Holiday Parade. The 2015 theme is “Joy to the Sea, 36 Years Celebrating OB” and the parade will take place on Saturday, December 5th at 5:05pm. The event is sure to be another smashing success with thousands of attendees!

The online application

The OBTC wants everyone to take note, that due to escalating event costs, entry fees for the OB Holiday Parade are mandatory. The fee is $50.00 per an entry. Applications will be reviewed once payment is received and a letter of acceptance will follow.

Applications must be received by the OBTC no later than November 15, 2015. For applications received after November 15, the mandatory entry fee increases to $100.00 and will only be considered if space is still available. There are only 100 parade entries available, so it’s best to get your application in early!

You can pay your entry fee online when you submit your application (you will automatically be directed to PayPal), or you can mail a check made out to the Ocean Beach Town Council to “OB Holiday Parade, P.O. Box 7225, San Diego, CA 92167.”


{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

RB October 31, 2015 at 11:30 am

While OB Elementary is a good neighborhood school, and should remain one option for the PL Cluster students, there are too many elementary schools in the Cluster. This has been true for 20 years. The school district’s new push for neighborhood school choice will decrease the number of students bused into the Point Loma Cluster and enrollment will be decreasing.


objamie October 31, 2015 at 4:01 pm

Fascinating article that describes what is happening in OB as reflected in local elementary school participation. Thanks for the insight.


Cholly November 2, 2015 at 6:25 am

How might one hop on Newsome’s bandwagon?


Frank Gormlie November 2, 2015 at 7:48 pm

Try these:
Name: Gretchen Newsom Phone: (619) 356-1837
Email address: gretchennewsomformayor@gmail.com


gristmiller November 2, 2015 at 11:12 am

I would “friend” her page on Facebook and go from there.


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