St. Helena and Calistoga school trustees are opposing a family’s effort to adjust the district boundaries so that their children can go to school in St. Helena instead of Calistoga.
The matter involves two homes on North Fork Crystal Springs Road owned by the Cook family, who have been attending St. Helena schools for four generations. Both parcels share a St. Helena mailing address, phone prefix and wine appellation, but it was discovered last year that they are within the Calistoga Joint Unified School District.
The family’s four children have been allowed to attend St. Helena schools on a provisional basis because a parent is employed as an AVID instructor at St. Helena High School. But with that policy changing, all four would have to transfer to Calistoga schools.
The family says adjusting the boundary would give their children safer access to bus routes, eliminate geographic disparities resulting from an antiquated boundary line, and continue their generational lineage of attending St. Helena schools.
The decision is in the hands of the Napa County Board of Education, acting as the Napa County Committee on School District Organization. The committee held public hearings last Friday in St. Helena and Calistoga and tentatively plans to take action on June 11.
The St. Helena and Calistoga school boards have passed resolutions opposing the family’s petition.
Calistoga trustees noted that the district stands to lose $46,474 in property tax revenue if the two parcels are mapped into the St. Helena school district. St. Helena trustees also noted the tax issue, passing a resolution stating “it is important to be a good neighbor to … surrounding school districts.”
Both school boards also agreed that the petition would set a troubling precedent and “may lead to future petitions seeking to change districts’ boundaries to allow parents to send their children to their preferred district, rather than the district within whose boundaries they live.”
The boundary between the two districts is based on a line drawn in the Rancho Carne Humana land grant from 1841, which predates the homes on Crystal Spring Road. The Cooks have a long history of ties to the St. Helena community and its schools, and the quirky boundary had never been an issue until now, said Glenn Cook.
“It’s an oddball situation caused by weird history,” said Cook, who lives at one of the homes with his wife Gayle.
The other home is occupied by the Cooks’ daughter, Shawn Moura, and her husband Paul. Shawn Moura said she discovered the issue when she registered her kids last year.
“Unfortunately, the school district line clips off our properties from all of the neighbors on our street,” said Shawn Moura. “Consequently, our St. Helena properties are misaligned with our school district.”
The family says it would be safer for their kids to catch the St. Helena bus on Crystal Springs Road, instead of having to walk along Silverado Trail to a Calistoga bus stop on Bale Lane. One of their neighbors, Susie Cardoza, was killed while walking down Silverado Trail last November.
Calistoga trustees say the bus route could be changed to safely serve the students who live on Crystal Springs Road.