Below is the breakdown of the cost of sending my 2 kids to Brookside this year.
Minimal annual school donation $700=$350x2 (recommend amount is $840=$420x2). That's 100% increase from $180 BES was asking last year.
District annual donation $300=$150x2
Workbook cost $170=$100+$70
Supplies cost (items from required supplies list bought at Staples ) $210
Classroom supplies cash donation $50=$25X2
Birthday book club $40=$20x2
TOTAL is $1,430 minimal or $1,570 recommended by the first week of school.
This sum comes on top of OPUSD taxes we've been paying for the past 10 years & will be followed by an endless flow of supplies wish-lists & cash donation requests coming from the classroom teachers & the school throughout the year.
Two other OPUSD elementaries did not raise their donation amounts. Oak Hills & Red Oaks still ask for $250 & $225 respectively. Unlike BES they both remind that any donation amount will be appreciated.
BES PFA put efforts into compiling a document comparing annual donations at some of the local schools. The doc is created with so many omissions and misinformation that it is almost useless. To list just a few
1. 2 other OPUSD elementaries are not included into the comparison.
2. The doc doesn't account for multiple other fees BES parents are requested to pay.
3. The doc doesn't mention school taxes OP residents are already paying that don't exist in other districts.
4. The numbers for other schools in the doc are not minimal or even average donations. When I've asked a friend with kids in Willow if she is really paying $2,000 per child in yearly donations her jaw dropped to the floor.
5. The doc doesn't tell that out of all schools compared BES has the LARGEST class size (BES avg. class is 30 vs. 23 at Sumac).That alone is one of the major reasons why lion share of donated money has to be spent on teachers aids. The district keeps packing kids like sardines & parents keep paying for aids so thier child can get a glimpse of personal attention. Teacher aids for a few hours a week is nothing but a band-aid solution & doesn't help with overcrowded classrooms.
6. New 30 minute afterschool supervision programs created by the principal benefits only a small group of parents & can NOT be used by any of the working families.
And the list goes on...
It is very hard to rate Brookside. There are some things I would give a 4-5 and others I'd give a 1-2.
I have two children at Brookside and have been here for a full five years.
Some teachers are fantastic. There are a few that are much below fantastic. The school has cliches a plenty. Some of which are very aloof and entitled. The two principals at the school were/are nothing to write home about.
There is significant parent participation which helps with the overcrowded classrooms.
This school (and probably the district) has been resting on their laurels. The enrichment opportunities, curriculum, teaching methods, ability to listen and respond, inclusivity, and many other nationally embraced aspects of excellence in schooling are not found here. I would say they are in fact behind the times and seem pretty set in their ways.
We have had nothing but positive experiences at Brookside; I'm not sure where the recent negative reviews are coming from, other than from those who may be disgruntled because their children are not keeping up, and there are actual expectations delineated from teachers. We spent a *lot* of time researching schools before selecting Brookside as our elementary school and have been here now for almost four years; my children are excited to go to school everyday and every teacher we have had has been a perfect fit. The parent community cannot be beat; the parents are super supportive and involved. As long as you are not expecting to be hand-held as a parent, take responsibility for knowing what is going on by reading the weekly communications from the school, and expect your children to be responsible for their own assignments and gain some independence while you are here, you and your child will thrive!
To be honest Brookside is dull as ditchwater. I understand that part of the problem is lack of money. Although I'm still finding it difficult to comprehend why the district, where residents pay more in school taxes than Agoura Hills and Westlake residents combined, is in such a desperate state. Anyway as our principal tirelessly reminds us money or the lack thereof is a big issue and soon BES parents will be required to bring in toilet paper (just kidding, but we are already bringing in soap...). Lack of funds is probably the reason why school library is open only 3 days a week, and is closed after school hours; school has no art program; kids don't have textbooks and single sheets copied homework papers are of poor quality and barely readable; PE classes are only twice a week and PE field had seen better days. All these are easy to understand. However lack of money doesn't explain what happened to free-of-charge long-time-favorite elementary school activities. Where did Crazy Head/Socks/Hair go? Why there is no colonial days, concerts or father-daughter dances? At the same time every week I receive 5-10 papers (some of them are expensive fancy neon orange and pink type) stating "Dear Parents..". I'm absolutely sure that majority of "Dear Parents" will agree to receive all school communication via email. This will allow the school to save 600 X 200 X 1.5 (number of kids X number of school days X avg. papers per day) = 180,000 sheets of paper + the cost of toner + the cost of electricity + cost copy machine maintenance. Sounds like a lot of money. Also this will show BES kids a real example of "being green". Somehow I find it difficult to share district's idea that "being green" means putting trash into 5 different bins without reducing the consumption.
Not long ago my kid came home from Brookside and told that he is never going to school again. When asked what happened, he told that after he answered a question his teacher shouted, "I don't care what YOU think the story is about. You must select the right answer from the paper, that's all I want from you". I spoke to the teacher, but predictably this caused more harm than good. "We are not doing it here" was her response after I suggested letting kids have a little discussion time before starting on multiple choice questions. Don't really know what else to write. I know that classes are very crowded, and it is almost the end of the year so teachers are stressed, tired and overwhelmed. They don't have time to listen to every student. What I don't know is how to comfort my child. He used to love his old school and now is afraid to speak up in the classroom and would rather stay home. As you may see from the review right below complaining is not an option. No one here listens to parents' complaints, they immediately label your child "not smart enough". Yes, "parent complains" = "child not smart enough for Brookside" plain and simple.
Brookside continues to be a school that maintains high standards and expectations of students. So far my 4th grader is doing great and loves his teacher & classroom! I suspect that the other negative reviews are due to their children not being able to keep up with the curriculum.
Here is the problem with the Oak Park Schools. They are only concerned with standardized testing. They even send kids home with standardized tests to work on for 2 months before the actual test day. Classes are crowded, and everything is about competition. Stars on the wall for how fast you can do math, or who got the most 100s. These schools are known for their academics, and allow many students from other districts, so the pool of students is skewed towards those with families who put a lot of emphasis on homework and testing and are willing to drive a long way for the "10". Unfortunately, the "10" does not mean that students are taught to think. They are robots who take tests. This system is definitely for some, but wasn't for us.
Horrible place. Not in terms of education, but in the way how teachers and administration treat students and parents. My child's classroom teacher regularly withholds recess time for the whole class as a punishment for what she considers incomplete classroom work or bad behavior. Unfortunately for the children the school principle is 100% supporting and encouraging such methods. On top of that the new PE coach treats our children like criminals at a juvenile detention facility. Literally minimal discipline violations such as not reacting fast enough to her commands, laughing or even asking for water in 100 degree heat result in sit-on for the rest of the class. Have you child happen to wear shoes that coach doesn't like, he/she would not be allowed into the PE class at all. Fun part is that the **same** shoe model was perfectly OK for the PE last year. The school office had never even bothered to send a note to parents letting us know that the rules had changed and special PE shoes are now mandatory.
We didn't have a good experience at Brookside. I have succumbed to the great Oak Park schools hype and got my children transferred to BES. A few weeks into the year they started complaining about clique kids and hard time fitting in. I have tried talking to the school administration, but was told that OP schools are not for everyone and if we are not happy we can always go back to the homedistrict. I did just that and put my children back into an elementary school in our homedistrict. That was my absolutely best move. Not telling that OP school are bad for everyone. Only wanted to let other parents know that out-of-district families have a chance of been considered less equal ones by the administration, and that students who don't match school ethnic profile might have difficulties blending in. In my opinion academic program at BES was dull and not challenging enough for my children. The school didn't engage kids into deeper learning, on most days they were repeatedly going over the test questions. Our current school has higher API score than BES, more diverse demographics, well rounded program and very reasonable administration.