Return to Headlines

CUSD Elementary School Boundaries

 CUSD Elementary School Boundaries

Important information concerning changes that will affect the school location of elementary students who live between Carmel Middle School and Valley Greens Drive, as well as all River School kindergarten students.

Dear District Resident:
Within Carmel Unified School District, we are constantly looking at how to make the experiences of our students and their families as positive and fulfilling as they can be. This is reflected in the quality of the staff that we employ, the programs that we establish, the classes that we offer, the variety of extra-curricular activities that we make available, the facilities that we build and maintain, and our continual efforts to ensure student safety, as well as countless other decisions made by the board and administration.

Parents and guardians entrust us with their children, and we take that responsibility very seriously.
As you may have heard or read, we will be taking steps to address crowding issues associated with a large student population at Carmel River School. On June 4, the residency boundary between Tularcitos School and River School will move west from its current location at Valley Greens Drive to the entrance of Carmel Middle School on Carmel Valley Road. In addition, the entire Carmel River kindergarten program will be relocated to the Carmel Child Development Center (formerly Carmelo School) on Carmel Valley Road effective in August of this year.
We want to assure those families who live in the area that is currently within Carmel River boundaries but will be in the Tularcitos area as of June 4 that:

  • No child currently attending Carmel River will be required to change schools.
  • Any brother or sister of any child now attending Carmel River will be able to attend Carmel River while the older child is at Carmel River. The younger sibling will be able to remain at Carmel River even after the older child matriculates from 5th grade.
  • Families who do not yet have students of school age, but who have continuously resided in the affected area prior to the boundary change, may request a transfer to Carmel River School. The district will give such requests special consideration.

Why did we need to make these changes in the first place?
The problem boils down to two related issues at Carmel River School: class sizes and the site’s overall capacity.
Carmel River’s enrollment is at its historical high. Currently, there are approximately 515 students at Carmel River, as compared with 2003 when the enrollment was only 373. Carmel River has 26 classrooms on 6.1 acres. Consequently, there is not enough space on the River School grounds to house more classrooms and provide adequate playground areas. However, even if River School had sufficient acreage to expand, the process to get a new building approved is extraordinarily difficult and slow because it is in the Coastal Zone, which requires special approvals. Any new building would not be possible for several years.

As a result, class sizes at River School have grown in order to accommodate the increase in students. If action is not taken, the district risks losing hundreds of thousands of dollars of state funding unless class sizes are reduced in the future. To make matters more challenging, one new housing project has already been approved and another is now under consideration. These projects are within the area affected by the boundary change and eventually would have resulted in even greater enrollment if the district had not acted to move the boundary.

These concerns cannot be ignored. Fortunately, Tularcitos School has the capacity to grow. Tularcitos is near its historical low in terms of student enrollment. At Tularcitos there are now about 390 students, as compared with 1997 when the school was up to 553 students. With respect to space, Tularcitos has 29 classrooms comfortably situated on approximately 11 acres.
What process was used to make the decision?
The decision to relocate the River kindergarten program and move the elementary school boundary line to the west was reached by our school board at the end of January following recommendations from an 11-member Superintendent’s Advisory Committee.

The Superintendent’s Advisory Committee was comprised of three parents, two teachers, a community member, the principals at both schools, and three district officials. The committee was purposely constructed to include representatives who might have been affected by the decision, including a Carmel Knolls Homeowners Association member, two parents who live east of Highway 1, and two teachers whose children attend River School through interdistrict transfers. The committee met weekly over a three-month period as they wrestled with the thorny issue of finding a solution to River School’s overcrowding.
This committee carefully studied many alternatives to resolve the problem of overcrowding at Carmel River School, including the following:

  • Changing district practices regarding inter/ intradistrict transfers;
  • Operating half-day kindergarten programs;
  • Adding additional classrooms at River School;
  • Building another school;
  • Relocating specific elementary grades/programs (e.g., all kindergarten students to Tularcitos School or CCDC; all 5th grade students to CMS or Tularcitos; all GATE or music students to Tularcitos School).
  • Moving the boundary between River and Tularcitos to the west;
  • Restructuring Carmel Child Development Center (CCDC) to be a K-5 school or a preschool/ kindergarten school;

The committee used the following list of interests to weigh each alternative under consideration:

  • Significantly reduce the student population at River School by 2011-12;
  • Ensure all students attending CUSD schools are residents;
  • Maintain reasonable class sizes and meet state Class Size Reduction limitations;
  • Offer parents who are employees an opportunity to attend a CUSD school;
  • Maintain the student population at no higher than 2011-12 levels;
  • Ensure student safety;
  • Satisfy CUSD goals for student learning;
  • Provide stability of existing student placements;
  • Use existing facilities;
  • Provide high quality facilities;
  • Ensure that the benefits justify the costs.
  • Preserve the scope and quality of existing programs at all schools involved;

After reviewing these options and interests, the committee recommended the two-pronged approach of temporarily relocating the River kindergarten program and moving the elementary school boundary line to the west. In the short term, relocating the kindergarten program will provide immediate relief to the school’s overcrowding. By grandfathering in existing students and their siblings, the connection of current families to the school is maintained. Over time, the boundary change will result in a gradual decrease in the student population, and the kindergarten program can be moved back to the River School site.
I want to assure all members of the River School community, and especially those who reside in the area affected by the decision, that the committee carefully evaluated the impact of each option and generated a set of recommendations I believe is the best possible solution to this dilemma. They sought to mitigate the impact on families through liberal grandfathering provisions. Therefore, I fully endorse the plan and was pleased the board saw the wisdom in the recommendations of the committee.

With the implementation of this decision, I expect the district will continue to operate the excellent quality of schools our community expects and deserves.

Marvin Biasotti


This map shows the general area affected by the change of elementary school boundaries within the Carmel Unified School District. Homes in this area will be part of the Tularcitos School attendance area as of June 4, 2011. Please note that the areas north and south of the area depicted are also included in the boundary change, as are all new housing developments in the Carmel Valley Road corridor with an access road east of Carmel Middle School. The affected area will include future development at Rancho Cañada, regardless of where the access road is located.