Late Breaking News!

Jan 24, 2019 | 2 comments

I understand that the Ocean Beach School Board came to a decision last night concerning the next configuration of the schools:

Pre-k will be in Long Beach, most likely at the Early Childhood Center
k-2 Long Beach3-5 Ocean Park (The Interim Superintendent is looking into buying a portable for OP school)
6-8 Hilltop
9-12 Ilwaco High School

Ocean Park School, 1936

Except for the “portable” (do they ever really move?), it looks like a good solution to the perennial problem of fitting kids into currently available spaces.  But, if I were a betting woman, I’d take odds on it not lasting very long.  These days of high mobility and with the population increasing mainly at the north end of the Peninsula, stability in school population numbers is not the name of the game.

Those who will feel it most, of course, are the parents of youngsters just beginning kindergarten or first grade.  As one of my own former students said to me at a recent school configuration meeting, “With all the threats ‘out there,’ I’d just feel better if my little ones were closer to home in the event of an emergency.”

Long Beach Schoolhouse, 1915

It’s a totally normal and healthy reaction, at least to me.  I remember back to my own beginning teaching days – the early 1960s – when we were still having Stop/Drop/Cover drills in case of air raids.  It was during the Cold War and the “answer” to the threat of atomic and hydrogen bombs was much the same as it had been to the “more benign” bomb threats during my World War II childhood.

In the faculty meetings of those days, when we talked about preparedness, we were told that if there was an emergency during school hours, we were to stay at school with our classes for the duration – even if that meant for several days.  We were not to go home to our own families or to try to get our own children.  Our responsibility was to the children at school.  My silent thought was always, “In a pig’s eye.”  Fortunately, we were never put to the test.

Hilltop School, c, 2017

I use that example only to say that no matter how well trained the school staff is and no matter what statistical evidence might be available to say that kids would be safer staying at school, parental instincts are strong and the desire to have your kids nearby, whether or not there is an emergency, is a legitimate consideration.

But, in rural and semi-rural areas, home-to-school proximity is not always feasible.  The best we can do is prepare for the worst-case scenario and hope for the best.  Be informed.  Be involved.  Be supportive.  And, if you are all those things, consider running for the School Board.  I understand that there will be vacancies the next time around.


  1. Donella Lucero

    I know when I was a child and going to school in Long Beach the school was an integral part of the community. Each community had their school with grades K-8. We did not all get together until we attended high school in Ilwaco.
    As an adult I have seen schools closed and combined by grade instead of community. The loss of this community center has been a loss to all. School was a secure place because for years you grew up along with your friends, you knew the teachers and could look forward coming back to a familiar place after summer break.
    Now we move kids around like pieces in a chess game. Kids don’t know year to year where they will go to school or who their teacher might be. If there is an emergency and the parents want to get their kids, what if you have 3 kids in 3 different schools. Which kid do you save?
    The School Board should take the time and think up a plan that’s good for kids, good for parents and good for communities and quit changing their plan every few years.

    • sydney

      That’s the way it was when I was a kid here, too. But by the time I came back to teach in the ’70s, the numbers game had begun. The only explanation that makes sense to me is that our population has become so dynamic that school numbers can change dramatically year by year. I don’t know what the answer is. When they did the big school remodels in the early 2000s, the numbers had changed so dramatically during the construction period that they had to open Long Beach School with two portables!! At the community meeting I attended at Ocean Park a couple of weeks ago, it sounded as though they had looked at every conceivable alternative and the one they chose definitely sounded best. But bottom line — parents as well as “old ducks” like you and me would much prefer “neighborhood” or “community” schools. Any ideas as to how?


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