His home was falling apart.
Senior Nate Reyes was living in a small apartment in a Cupertino suburb — according to him, his family was paying a large amount of money to live in a place with several functionality issues, including a faulty water system.
Reyes decided to make use of the senior privilege policy to give his family more financial freedom. This policy allows him to finish his final year at MVHS while residing outside of the dictrict boundaries in south San Jose.
“[It was] a lot of stress off my shoulders because I know I’ll be able to stay at the school I was at and keep the same friends,” Reyes said.
According to Superintendent Polly Bove, the main goal of the policy is to alleviate financial pressure faced by those living in Cupertino and Sunnyvale. Property prices in Cupertino have been increasing over the past few years, with the average sale price for a house reaching $2.4 million, according to SoldNest.
For junior Parky Sood, senior privilege is already a topic of discussion in his family. Currently, Sood lives in an apartment with increasing rent, giving him a strong incentive to make use of senior privilege.
“I was very relieved,” Sood said. “Now there’s an option for me where I can continue my education at Monta Vista without [risking] my future.”
Sood values the friendships he has fostered at MVHS and was reluctant to leave them behind. Since he prefers face-to-face interaction over social media and texting, the increased distance would have negatively impacted Sood’s social life, cutting off all his relationships.
Reyes worries that the increased distance between him and his friends could affect his social life negatively, but he has been able to maintain close contact by hanging out at friends’ houses during his free periods. This alternative makes it easier for Reyes to attend football practice and games.
“If it’s really bad [and] there’s a lot of traffic for some reason, I would just crash at my buddy’s house,” Reyes said. “I don’t have to drive 45 minutes to go home, shower and then start my homework.”
Though transportation is a foreseeable downside to moving outside of district boundaries, Sood recognizes the importance of assessing the entire situation. The economic implications, his educational future and his attachment to MVHS are all factors that make senior privilege an appealing option.
“I wasn’t happy about [the idea of moving],” Sood said. “MVHS is the perfect school for my personality or the type of person I am. But at the same time I also don’t want to stress my family to stay here.”
At the moment, Sood is still considering whether to apply for senior privilege or not. He highlights one benefit of the policy: without it, students who participate in extracurricular activities on campus, such as holding positions of authority as club officers, team captains or organization members would lose all of their .
Bove believes it’s the district’s duty to provide students with a complete educational experience.
“From my perspective, [senior privilege] is the right educational choice, and it’s the right ethical thing to do,” Bove said. “And I stand by it … there are times it’s been a little complicated, but it’s been worth the complication in my mind.”
The value of senior year
Why senior privilege is a sound policy despite its economic drawbacks
When current FUHSD superintendent Polly Bove and other Santa Clara County associates negotiated the senior privilege policy in 1991, they weren’t thinking about the economic impact the policy would have on the county high school districts; they were thinking about the seniors who deserved to graduate from the school they had attended for three years.
Over the past several years, with the cost of home prices in Cupertino rising 80% since 2007, more seniors have been opting to utilize senior privilege at MVHS, allowing them to move to a more affordable neighborhood without having to uproot their lives their last year of high school.
Practically speaking, senior privilege is not an economically beneficial policy for the district. The FUHSD school district is one of 100 in the state funded by property taxes; consequently, if a student not living in the district attends an FUHSD school, the school isn’t receiving any compensation for that student, slightly shrinking the pool of money for other students in the district.
From a financial standpoint, senior privilege is impractical and only harms the district. But education isn’t just about the expense. A student is more than an arbitrary dollar amount to the district. They are measured by the connections they form with their teachers and peers, their accomplishments and milestones on campus and the lasting legacy they leave at MVHS, whether it is playing on the football team, serving as the president of Model UN or dancing for one of our talented teams.
Not only would a student have to make new friends and be the “new kid,” they would also lose all their extracurricular accomplishments. They would lose their officer and campatin positions in clubs and on sports teams, essentially starting from square zero again. Additionally the extensive college application process requires recommendation letters from teachers and counselors, meaning the student will be at a disadvantage as they won’t have connections with any adults on campus.
The alternative to senior privilege is families who’ve already invested tens of thousands of dollars to live in Cupertino remaining in the city for one more year. However, that is a luxury that some families simply can’t afford. This leaves them with no choice but to leave the district, disrupting their child’s senior year. Additionally, moving away from the ridiculously expensive Cupertino area families will have more cash flow for the astronomical expenses of college applications.
Senior year is a year of endings — a year of nostalgia and bittersweet closure. It is a year of reaping what you’ve sown for the past three years. It should not be a year of beginnings. It should not be a year of new faces, strangers and starting over. Uprooting a senior to a new school and environment in the last year of their high school experience prevents them from finding the full-circle closure that senior year should bring.
Senior privilege places a partial drain on the district’s funding for every student. But the district owes it to its students to give them a meaningful senior year of closure and remembrance. By implementing senior privilege, the district is recognizing its responsibility to serve its students, for whom it exists. Afterall, a student’s senior year is worth far more than the money lost from the district budget.
Out of the picture
Explore the locations of students who utilize senior privilege
Students who live out of the FUHSD boundary due to the senior privilege policy will have a longer commute to and from MVHS. Check out the interactive map below to view where five MVHS students are now residing in respect to MVHS’s location and the district border.