This is a safe place to share your honest opinions of a school, whether good or bad.
Springhill Elementary School3
Posted August 20, 2014
- a parent
After three years of painful flux, the Principal has departed Springhill. The interim Principal will be Mr G - the district psychologist. He used to be the school psychologist at Springhill prior to his district position, so he knows the school, families and staff. This is a great step in the right direction for the school. Let's hope the new principal is a thoughtful choice. This is a committed group of parents and volunteers.
The overall academic quality of Springhill Elementary School has declined over the past four years as evidenced by decreasing standardized test scores in comparison to other local Lamorinda public schools. Our class sizes have increased significantly over this time and student need has grown without an adjustment in campus resources. Many children in need are under served. The current principal has successfully reduced parental involvement during school hours as well as field trips in some grades. School problems are minimized or not communicated to parents. Quality, experienced teachers and staff are leaving and the school community morale has declined. The committed community of parents are more hesitant and less willing to get involved because of the principal's philosophical differences, lack of leadership and collaboration, and investment in quality education.
We have two children at Springhill, one entering 1st grade, and the other entering 3rd grade. We've found the teachers to be very professional and engaged. We receive regular communication from the teachers and administrators with respect to goings on at the school - programs, special days, calendar, etc. There's quite a bit of parent involved, both on the organizational front, as well as volunteering for events, and helping the teachers. The school is clean, and the facilities are well maintained. There is a before/after care center adjacent to the school propery, which many of the children attend (ourselves included from next year). The setting of the school is picturesque, as it backs up to the Briones State Park - the kids can see the cows grazing on the other side of the fence. There's also a large garden area at the back of the property. On the downside, the homework is somewhat hit or miss - there seams to be less emphasis on homework at this school than we're accostomed to, having recently moved to the area from out of state. Overall, we're pleased with the school, and our kids feel safe/happy there.
We have been at this school for the past 2 years and love it. My kids are getting a balanced education and preparing to be bett r citizens, not just robots who can take tests but can navigate through the world based on their experiences at school.
The mantra here in Lafayette is " Lafayette schools are the best in the State and the Nation". They are NOT. At all. All you have to do is look at the Standardized test scores and school rankings. Maybe people just assume if they pay outrageous prices for homes that the schools must be great in the area. A bad and erroneous assumption.
School test scores reflect high socioeconomic demographic, not quality of school (and are lower than other schools in area). Current principal is unhelpful and not well-liked by either parents or teachers. School is special ed hub for district but doesn't have necessary resources to serve the numbers of students who are referred here, and if you have a kid with a milder learning disability they are unlikely to be well-served, nor are gifted students. Some excellent teachers, but also some fairly awful and mediocre teachers who should be removed. Current principal is trying to cut back on field trips and opportunities for parent volunteers in school, aside from fundraising.
You will find that people from the Lafayette area think Lafayette schools are great. If you move here from other parts of the country you may find like I did that Springhill is good but definitely not great. You only need to look at the Standards test scores to see that Springhill is not up to par with other schools in the area. Also Springhill was rated a 10 on this website and recently dropped to a 9. It does not appear that this school is striving for academic excellence. Because of Proposition 13 that was passed decades ago the property taxes just aren't enough to fund all that the schools need. Every parent is asked for money at the beginning of the year and there are fundraisers throughout the year to help pay for things that should be standard in a school. Thankfully they do have a lot of parents willing to volunteer. Also my child has had excellent teachers. That is probably the only reason we are still there.
Be aware that if you are moving here from back East, these schools will likely be very mediocre compared to what you are probably used to. I have found this to be true in speaking with many parents from out of state. Parents are asked for frequent donations, bus service is several hundred dollars extra, differentiation basically doesn't exist (but LOTS OF LIP SERVICE DOES!!!!!) if your child is well above average, and for my son who was set to start speech back east, he was considered "normal" in this district. The lack of money really shows in the school systems here. We gave up after we were encouraged to work on math at home, and after the teacher was just really horrible in general. Like I was told before moving here, "California schools are California good."
My scoring is relative to other comparable schools in Moraga, Orinda, and Lafayette. I have four kids two of which just completed 6 years at Springhill and two of which are still there. Positives -Some very good, motivated, inspiring and experienced teachers -A great community of parents -Art and music program funded by LPIE -New science specialist former 2nd grade teacher - very good! Negatives -Star test scores are consistently lower than all comparable public elementary schools in surrounding area. -Too many poor/medicore teachers. In 5 years my daughter has had 2 bad teachers. That's one too many. Hard to get rid of b/c of tenure. -Principal lacks leadership and vision. Not inspiring, an administrator, doesn't command respect of teachers or parents, and has failed to communicate and execute on vision for school. -Principal's new teacher selection has had mixed results over last 3 years. A couple good ones but a few bad one's as well. Lafayette should be able to attract the best every time! -Almost all teachers give lip service to differentiation -Lack of consistency and collaboration between teachers within same grade and between grades -Lacks strong academic focus.
We have been at Springhill for 5 years and have many more to go. We've loved our time here but I feel that it is changing since Bruce left. My children are receiving a good education, but it could be better. Public schools are so focused on state test scores they, have a difficult time offering much in the way of differentiated learning. Springhill could do a much better job at challenging students who excel or the boys who often need to "move" to learn.