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Child hit at Intersection of Barbara Drive and N. California

Original post made by Barbara Drive Concerned Resident on Feb 19, 2009

For those that are not aware, the Palo Alto Unified School District is in the process of getting the old Garland School site in order for a new school slated to be completed by 2012. They want to build a "four strand" school to accommodate 480 students. The traffic density is hideous on N. California due to the fact that there is a middle school right next door (Jordan). The neighborhood has been holding meetings and our concerns are obviously not being heard.

This morning a perfect illustration of the problem occurred as a Jordan 7th grader was hit by a Jordan parent in a sports car. He said that he "couldn't see her". Perhaps the school board will consider other alternatives to putting a high density elementary school site at Garland. They seem to be unwilling to listen to us.

Comments anyone?

Comments (53)

Posted by Sarah, a resident of Midtown
on Feb 19, 2009 at 9:21 am

So the "Jordan parent" didn't know there were tons of kids walking around near a school at 8am? Slow down and attention folks! Sports cars, especially, should be lower to the ground and give you a better view of the pedestrians than trucks and SUVs.

I am also strongly in favor of removing all the parallel parking along N. California near the schools since it just gives parents an excuse to "not see" the kids in the crosswalks and sidewalks.

Posted by Barbara Drive Concerned Resident, a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Feb 19, 2009 at 9:29 am

Just to clarify, the child was on a bicycle. The bike was damaged enough to not be ridable. The child (thank God) was shook up but not injured.

Posted by Mom, a resident of Jordan Middle School
on Feb 19, 2009 at 9:30 am

We live near Jordan. There aren't a lot of cars driving to Jordan because most bike or walk. However, Garland is going to pull from south of Oregon so there will be about one driver per student unless they have a shuttle. It will be too dangerous for the Jordan students unless they stagger the starting/ending time schedules so that people are driving to Garland at different times. Jordan begins at 8:10.

I think Walter Hays begins at 8:25? What's the reason for that?

How many students currently attend Stratford and what is their starting time?

It think Garland should just be a regular elementary and pull from just the north. South will need to open an elementary in no time with all the new developments.

Posted by Drive carefully, a resident of Barron Park
on Feb 19, 2009 at 9:32 am

I hear your pain. There is a high density elementary (Briones) and a middle school (Terman) and a high school (Gunn) that are all within blocks of each other. All three schools use the same two roads for drop off, walking and bicycle route. It is a nightmare in the mornings. The worst affenders seem to be the parents who are in such a hurry to "drop and run". The students actually begin their morning having to avoid cars rather than the drivers avoiding them. Drivers need to understand that, when there is not a bike lane, the drivers need to share the road. Bicycles have a right to be in the street and drivers need to allow them use of the road, even if that means driving the speed limit.

Posted by Mom, a resident of Jordan Middle School
on Feb 19, 2009 at 9:38 am

It's ineffective to yell for people to "just slow down and be careful". What is really needed is the presence of police everyday to keep people in line.

Posted by Erin, a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Feb 19, 2009 at 10:15 am

It's so unfortunate that a Jordan parent couldn't be more aware of kids in the area and slow down. I hope the student is okay.

Barbara Drive neighbor - I'd like to know your solution for the influx of 370+ kids in the next 5 years into the district when we're already at capacity and overflowing kids from the north to the south. Where do you suggest we put the kids? There is only one empty school and it's Garland. I hope you know that there are people suggesting that the district move Ohlone or one of the other choice schools to Garland. Those are complete commuter schools and would bring the most traffic of all the schools to the neighborhood. We're lucky that this will be a neighborhood school where most kids will walk and bike.

Posted by Mom, a resident of Jordan Middle School
on Feb 19, 2009 at 10:45 am

Oh, please, Erin and Sarah, are you perfect? It was an accident. The guy didn't purposely hit the girl. I actually drove that route today and saw them all standing there and the girl on the phone. At least he stopped. What do you want? His address so you can harass him?

All parents are guilty of driving too fast at times to get somewhere. And all drivers are guilty of not following the driving rules at one time or another. For instance, who really drives 25mph on Middlefield or Embarcadero?

Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 19, 2009 at 10:47 am

Thank you for bringing this accident to our attention.

If you were a witness (and I hope you were and were able to give your account to the police) I would like you to clarify a few things.

Was the bike rider on the right side of the road or the wrong side of the road (left)? I suspect the bike rider was doing everything right but it would be good if you clarified this.

Was the car driving straight along California from Louis to Jordan, or was the car coming out of Barbara? If the driver and bike were both in the same direction both coming from Louis then I can't picture how this accident happened. If one or other was coming out of Barbara and entering California, then whichever one came out of Barbara was at fault. A bicycle is a vehicle and if it did not stop at the stop sign and wait for a clear entrance onto California then the fault is with the cyclist. If the car came out of Barbara and the cyclist was doing exactly what vehicles should do riding along California, then the car was at fault.

Until we can know exactly how this happened, it is unfair to attribute blame.

However, I am very concerned about what will happen at Garland when it reopens. My personal suspicion is that most of the traffic crossing Oregon (cars, bikes and pedestrians) will turn left into Garland Road (beside the preschool) or cross at Ross, and enter Garland school through the pedestrian entrance. This will cause parking problems in that Garland neighborhood and all the traffic problems also. This may be the safer entrance for south of Oregon families, but it will be a nightmare in that little neighborhood. At present they get little or no school traffic, but that will change when it becomes a neighborhood school rather than a commuter school.

Posted by Sarah, a resident of Midtown
on Feb 19, 2009 at 10:48 am

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 19, 2009 at 10:49 am

For whoever asked about Stratford school times, it is an irrelevant question. The vast majority of kids who attend Stratford school are driven by working parents who drop them off earlier than the school day and pick them up in the evening after their working day. There is before school and after school daycare for the children and the parents leave them at school for longer than the school hours.

Posted by Erin, a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Feb 19, 2009 at 10:54 am

I never said I was perfect. I never placed blame. I just said it was unfortunate that he wasn't more careful. That's it.

I have a very serious problem with the poster who is obviously trying to stop the opening of Garland because she's worried more about people parking on her street than she is about the number of kids coming into this city and not having a classroom available for them.

I think we do have a traffic issue here but it's not much different than JLS and Fairmeadow and they have managed it fine for many, many years. We will absolutely NOT have one car per student as only 1/4 or less of the students at Garland will be coming from south of Oregon. The boundary discussion has not even started yet.

The district has made the decision to open Garland as a neighborhood school with 480 students because it can hold that many students and that is the number we need to have there for the incoming enrollment projections. Let's all move on and do what we can from here on out to make it safe for all of our kids to get there.

Posted by Barbara Drive Concerned Resident, a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Feb 19, 2009 at 10:57 am

I don't believe that Garland will be totally a "neighborhood school". This neighborhood is not inundated with young children. I think that lots of the children coming to the new Garland school will come from outlying neighborhoods. Having a new "showpiece" 23million dollar state of the art school there will attract many people from out of the me. There are other possible solutions which I don't believe have been looked at closely enough. Maybe some other people would like to chime in on this.

Regarding the gentleman who hit the girl, he was very nice and was even willing to give us his contact information so that he may be of assistance in preventing other similar situations. I don't know what speed he was driving at when this occurred or whether he was preoccupied with thoughts for closing a business deal later in the day. Only the driver knows what his state of consciousness was at the time of the occurrence. I think the N. California T intersection with Barbara could have played into this. The child lives across the Embarcadero in the Duveneck neighborhood and I can well imagine that she came down Barbara Drive or took Louis to N. California.

Posted by Erin, a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Feb 19, 2009 at 11:01 am

Barbara neighbor,
Please come over to Garland this weekend. I'll show you all of the houses with kids under 6. There here even if they're not on your street.

Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 19, 2009 at 11:04 am

Thanks for the clarification.

Whether the cyclist came out of Barbara or came from Louis is actually important information. If the cyclist came from Louis they were probably in the right. If they came out of Barbara, they may have not stopped at the stop sign. This would be more useful information to find out why the driver did not see the bike. There is no bike lane and if the bike came out into a shared lane, the driver regardless of what speed may have had too little time to avoid the accident.

Posted by Barbara Drive Concerned Resident, a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Feb 19, 2009 at 11:16 am

I was not an eye witness. The police were at the scene and took a report. I was there about 10 minutes after it happened. Hey, when I was a kid my Mom told me that "the pedestrian always has the right of way" and I think this should apply to bicyclists around a school as well. Even if they are not exercising the best safety practices (ie we used to be required to walk our bicycles across crosswalks) drivers should assume that there will be someone on a bicycle doing something stupid. I get really annoyed when I see a kid with his $100 helmet dutifully sitting on top of his head with the strap not fastened. How smart is that? Why don't the police ticket kids for violations and have a unfastened helmet be identical to not wearing a helmet? How smart are all of these Palo Alto whiz kids if they can't figure out that they could be preventing brain damage with a properly fitted and secured helmet? I also get annoyed when I see parents with a string of children behind them with their lovely helmets secured to their heads only to be led by a mom or dad with no helmet on. Those kids need a parents without brain injuries. Wake up parents!! Maybe we need more bicycle safety programs into the schools. I grew up in Palo Alto and I remember having comic books with accident situations illustrated and the results of the accident (ie fractured skull or concussion). There should be no kids suffering these injuries with todays safety equipment. Sorry I got off on a rant but we can all do our best to assure that our children are as protected as they can be and that they use the safety equipment in the proper way.

Posted by Buses?, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 19, 2009 at 11:24 am

It is a shame that retirement communities, like Palo Alto, cannot afford school buses.

Posted by Mom, a resident of Jordan Middle School
on Feb 19, 2009 at 11:42 am

I drive down N CA sometimes to take my child to school sometimes. None of the kids use the bike lane on N CA from Louis Rd. to Newell. All the kids are on the other side of the street on the sidewalk.

The accident was at the crosswalk on Barbara. If a person is not used to driving on N CA, they could be looking ahead and not realize to look for ped/bikers there. Plus, does everyone know that if a person is waiting to cross in the crosswalk, it is illegal to drive through the crosswalk and the driver can be sited?

They should put those lights on the street which light up when there is someone in the crosswalk, as they have on Fabian Way. Those flashing lights are difficult to miss.

The reason I asked the Stratford stats was that if they have as many students attending as Garland will, we can get an idea of the situation.

As far as the posters rant above, techically, peds and bikers have the right of way, but they need to be aware of cars.

The first week of the school year, there are police out there to look for helmets on the kids.

Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 19, 2009 at 11:49 am

Barbara resident

I take your point about bike helments.

But just as important as helmets are teaching kids to obey traffic rules. This applies to pedestrians just as much as bikes. Unfortunately, the attitude that the pedestrian always has right of way teaches the wrong message. Road safety is everyone's concern and teaching kids how to cross the road safely and how to ride a bike safely is something that every parent should teach their child. Giving them the message that as a pedestrian they are always in the right gives them carte blanche for stepping out in front of traffic and expecting the car to stop for them, possibly being hit by the car behind, is just wrong. The same can be said for riding a bike.

There have been classes for parents on how to teach kids to ride their bikes safely and although these were relatively well attended, most of those attending were the ones who were already doing a pretty good job. The ones who were doing a bad job were not there.

Using the roads means that everyone should be responsible for their own safety. If you don't think your child is ready to go out on their own then go with them until such time as they are. This applies for walking as well as bike riding. Teach your children to ride their bikes defensively rather than assuming that everyone else will watch out for them and you will be doing them a bigger favor.

Posted by Erin, a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Feb 19, 2009 at 11:52 am

I don't know the Stratford stats but they don't have nearly as many kids as Garland will have. I don't know the number cars going to the school though but it could be similar given that Garland WILL be a neighborhood school. You will not be pulling from all over the district because the boundaries will be redrawn and kids will be coming from the areas closest to the school. You can't always just go to whatever school you want in the district. Usually they're close to full with neighborhood kids so there are very few transfers from other neighborhoods.

Yes, Garland will be a beautiful new school. It should set the new standard for the future of our schools as they need to be remodeled. I don't think that will mean that people who live on the other side of town will want to schlep their child 20 minutes away, taking them away from all of their neighborhood friends, to a school with no proven track record or test scores just to have a new building with shiny windows.

Posted by A Neighbor, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Feb 19, 2009 at 1:33 pm

This intersection has been a problem for some time. In fact, there was a Palo Alto Weekly story done back in March 2008: Web Link

The city really needs to make this whole area safer -- the crosswalk specifically, but also the several blocks on North California more generally. Better markings, better signage... there are definitely ways to make it more obvious to drivers that this is a school area. Why hasn't anything been done yet?

The article from 2008 included the following: "Sam Peiris, City of Palo Alto traffic engineer, said a consultant began two weeks ago to analyze the safety issues on North California and to figure out how best to improve safety. Analysis should be completed by May, he said. To address the Barbara Drive crossing problem in the interim, he has ordered signage and flexible delineators -- bright yellow plastic posts with signs indicating a pedestrian crosswalk -- that will be put in the middle of the road. The markers will probably be installed in two weeks, he said."

Why didn't that ever happen?

Improvements need to be made NOW to help better protect our middle school students... as well as those children and families that will be attending a re-opened Garland elementary school in the upcoming years.

Posted by not true, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 19, 2009 at 5:02 pm

Erin said: " I don't know the number cars going to the school (Stratford) but it could be similar given that Garland WILL be a neighborhood school."

I don't think the number cars going to Stratford would be similar to garland AT ALL. Only half of the Stratford site is now occupied by its grade school. The rest of half is either pre-school or Chinese after school, where kids come and go at very different/flexible hours.
Once Garland is open, I expect A LOT HEAVIER traffic coming in and out.

Posted by Erin, a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Feb 19, 2009 at 5:33 pm

I think if someone could give us an estimate of how many kids travel by car to other neighborhood schools that would at least be a good place to start as opposed to making glaring assumptions.

Posted by Anonymous, a resident of Community Center
on Feb 19, 2009 at 5:41 pm

Barbara resident,

Do you think that the big trucks and sewer work which closed a portion of the sidewalk and closed the bike path may have contributed to the accident this morning?

Posted by palo alto mom, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Feb 19, 2009 at 5:42 pm

Not that the N. California is not an issue, but I think the student hit the car with her bike (not the car hitting the bike) and if it truly happened at 8:10, that's when class starts at Jordan, since she was late for school, she would have been in a hurry. If there is a stop sign on Barbara and that is where she was crossing, the car actually had the right of way, not the bike rider.

Drivers and bike riders - obey the rules of the road, leave a few minutes earlier, drive carefully.

Posted by Erin, a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Feb 19, 2009 at 5:42 pm

You know, in the ig picture it really doesn't matter how many kids go to Garland. We know cars will be dropping kids off at school there and we know kids will also be walking and biking. We also know that we have an issue with Barbara Drive. We have 3 years to get something done about it before the school opens. I am simply suggesting we stop arguing about the school when the decision has already been made to open it and now focus on working to make it safe for the kids to get there. Is that really so hard to do?

Posted by Erin, a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Feb 19, 2009 at 5:45 pm

"big" picture. Sorry- on my iPod while making dinner. Always doing too many things at once.

Posted by Civitas, a resident of another community
on Feb 20, 2009 at 8:31 am

Slow down and take a deep breath, Americans. Enjoy the scenery, live the moment. Walk to your destiantion, walk to the train or bus then to your destination, or bicycle instead of driving to your destination. This reduces air pollution, makes you more fit and healthy, sitmulates your pocketbook, reduces our country's dependence on non-renewable energy sources (typically, foreign oil produced by despotic and/or corrupt governments), and takes motor vehicles off the road instead of leaving them on the road where they can pose a danger both to bicyclists and to pedestrians. Life is about the journey, not the destination.

Posted by Ms. A, a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Feb 20, 2009 at 9:07 am

I really appreciate the comments made by "Erin." I think we should look at the openning of Garland in a more positive way. How many neighborhoods would LOVE to have their school district invest 23 Million for their neighborhood school. This is an amazing opportunity for our neighborhood and kids. I often hear people complain about the appearance of the PA school facilities, well the district is trying to evolve to the 21st century!!! We should welcome the opportunity and work with the district to make this one of the best schools in the state.
With the growth everywhere in PA, I would imagine that very few will have to cross Oregon Express. And by the comments on the story, not everyone cares about crossing Oregon. Once the proposed boundary changes are announced we can have that discussion...

We are a great community ...Let's support each other. Let's think of new solutions as a community to best educate and keep our Kids safe! It's a new PA out there with lot's of wonderful kids...we must deal with reality!!

Posted by future Garland parent, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 20, 2009 at 9:22 am

As a future Garland parent, I welcome Garland as a neighborhood school. However, I'm personally against making kids come across Oregon in fear of heavy traffic and likelihood of more accidents.

Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 20, 2009 at 9:25 am

Mrs A

Whereas I feel that you have the right idea, there in fact are some errors in your thinking.

Firstly, you think that very few will have to cross Oregon. This in fact is blinkered thinking. The overcrowding in schools is very bad in the south part of the city and PAUSD have already stated that (a) Garland will take care of overcrowding in the south as well as the north and (b) Garland will become one of the most densely populated elementary schools in the District by making it 4 strand rather than 3 strand even though it is not one of the biggest campuses. The fact is that there is a large number of housing developments taking place right now and more to come. The District is not even talking about what they plan to do with the only other available school site in the area, Greendell, when the JCC leaves in just over a years' time. It is quite apparent that they are thinking only of having Garland as the savior of overcrowding, north and south.

Secondly, by the time the boundaries are actually announced, even in proposal form, it will be too late. It may be possible to tweak a few streets here and there, but the main decision will have been made. Therefore, it is imperative to start this discussion now before anything is even tentatively announced.

Lastly, the majority of those saying that they don't mind their kids crossing Oregon are those who normally drive their kids to school anyway. These families are usually the ones who don't value neighborhood schools and the advantages that they bring. Dividing a school by Oregon will in effect be an invisible barrier to friendships and in effect divide the school into two communities. Many of those who live near the school will not allow their kids to visit those friends who live across Oregon, because they will probably need to be driven each way which will make spontaneous playdates and older childrens' independence to arrange to see friends almost impossible. For those living south of Oregon, it will put an end to the child returning to school later in the day or weekends for fun, as well as being able to visit their friends' homes independently, unless they too live south of Oregon. These factors alone will divide the school into two separate communities as kids will automatically form closer friendships with those kids they can easily interact with outside school.

I think that opening Garland is a wonderful idea, but I have my doubts about turning it into a mega school. I would much prefer an option that keeps kids south of Oregon, south of Oregon. I really feel that Greendell will have to be considered very soon also, and it makes sense to do that now before Garland is up and running.

I think that Erin and her neighbors do deserve a wonderful school in their neighborhood for their own neighborhood. I equally feel that those in the south deserve the same treatment.

Posted by North-South, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 20, 2009 at 10:35 am

Wow, I have always heard about the North- South divide but this takes it to a new level! We are talking one major street with traffic lights and those on one side should stay on the one side for their safety? This division has gone on too long in this town. The delusion that some folks have over this divide needs to change. Let us try and solve schools with the best solution for the entire city rather than the continuing North-South prejudices.

Posted by Pops, a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 20, 2009 at 11:26 am

The district is out of space. It's absurd to think that the cash-strapped district is going to build another school because of traffic concerns in a neighborhood that already has one. And of course you don't think they are listening to you -- they aren't. At the end of the day, someone has to be "inconvenienced." If I worked for the district, I'd nod my head and smile at you while you complained about increased traffic, too. Because at the other door to my office would be hundreds of irate parents who are having to drive their kids across town -- creating additional traffic and safety hazards -- because their neighborhood schools are full. Time to look at the big picture.

Posted by Penny, a resident of Greenmeadow
on Feb 20, 2009 at 11:49 am

Dear Parents,

Our kids need us to teach and practise pedestrian and bicycle skills with them throughout the elementary school years so that they will know how to be safe when they get older.

The child in this crash DID NOT LOOK. She drove her bike ILLEGALLY into the path of an oncoming car. Happily, the driver was observing speed limits and the law so she was not badly hurt. The police report says she was at fault. No street improvement can compensate for illegal behavior on the part of drivers, bicyclists, or pedestrians. (However, to that point, the city is working with PAUSD on a traffic plan to address future needs of the proposed Garland site to improve school route safety for future students at the site.)

There is a great class for middle school kids to learn basic street skills. It is called "Middle School Bike Skills." See Web Link

A 7th grader can be a safe cyclist. Parents must instill in children a good skills set and a sense of their RESPONSIBILITY to abide by the law when they are operating a vehicle. This skills base and sense of responsibility will transfer as they become drivers when they are older.

Take the time to teach and practise these fundamental life skills with your children during elementary school. There is a short window when your children will want to bike with you--and then (about age 10 or 11) they will go off on their own whether or not you have done your job. Don't miss this window of opportunity. Walk and bike with your child often, and work with them to develop the HABITS required to be safe on the street.

Kids who spend their elementary school years sitting paasively in the back seat of a car being driven everywhere never have the opportunity to learn the basic safety skills they will need when they begin to navigate through the world on their own.

Help your child develop the basic skills she will need to be self-reliant, independent and safe by regularly teaching and practising street skills with him or her.

Posted by Leigh, a resident of Community Center
on Feb 20, 2009 at 11:54 am

There is a need for more school space. Neighborhoods that had primarily long time residents who had empty nests are turning over to new families. If the kids are not here today, they will be here tomorrow. As long time residents move and pass away, they will be replaced in most instances by families. There are lots of new housing projects under construction or in planning stages.

We have some very quirky school districts. Boundaries run down the middle of residential streets. Kids who live across the street go to different schools. The Community Center neighborhood is divided between 3 schools (Hays, Duveneck, Addison). It makes it hard to keep a sense of community when we have 3 different elementary schools. I know south Palo Alto has condo complexes that kids go to different school. I pray they do a better job with boundaries this time. I would LOVE to walk my kids to school. I live 3 blocks for a school. That is not my child's school. Kids who live on the other side of the tracks near Paly, drive their kids over to Hays. I have to drive my kids to Duveneck. I even petitioned to the district go to our neighborhood school. 2 kids did not get into Duveneck. Rather than allowing us to leave voluntarily, they had a reverse lottery.

Here's hoping they do a better job with school boundaries next time!!!!

Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 20, 2009 at 1:30 pm

Pops, and others

I am looking at the big picture. I do want what is best for all the children in Palo Alto, this will not affect mine at all.

This mega school at Garland will not help solve the problem of kids being driven across town. It will add to kids being driven in cars to a school which is less than a mile from their home.

If Garland was reopened as a 3 strand school and the money saved spent on opening Greendell in the south, it would make it easier for neighborhood kids to get to neighborhood schools.

All these new housing developments must be putting $$ into the kitty from school impact fees. Instead of spending this money on portables and extra teachers, these school impact fees should be put to what it is designed for, opening new schools.

The north/south divide is real, not imaginery, and building a state of the art school in the north which will mean kids being driven from the south too will not make things better. These kids will never have the benefit of being able to wander back to school to play basketball or skateboard, they won't go there to learn how to ride their bikes without training wheels, and they won't pass their school when they are on their way somewhere else. This school may be their assigned school, but it won't be their neighborhood school. They will have to go somewhere else for their after school and weekend play.

Posted by Bob, a resident of Greenmeadow
on Feb 20, 2009 at 1:56 pm

We really need the facts before we all speculate...I thought the idea was to shift the school boundaries...adding Garland to add relief to the entire grid. Yes, there may be the issue of line crossing Oregon Express because it is so close to the Garland site.
But do you really see kids being driven from the opposite side of town for elementary school.

Also keep in mind, PA families are still so most parts of the country kids have to take a bus to school.

Posted by Erin, a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Feb 20, 2009 at 1:57 pm

I think the term "mega school" is jargon that you're throwing out there as a scare tactic.

This is going to be a 4-strand school (480 students) and it is not the smallest campus in the district.

Other elementary schools with 4-strands or 480+ students include the following:
*Walter Hays
(notice the above three are all in the north and are all currently or almost at capacity)
*Escondido - 510 students, includes Spanish Immersion
*Ohlone will be growing to 560 including MI.

That is half of our elementary schools that are 4 strand schools. I did not include Fairmeadow, which I have heard may be adding a 4th Kinder class for 2009.

I'm not sure you can call Garland a mega-school when it's looking to be the average of our capacity levels.

As for traffic, I personally feel safer having my kids on slower streets such as N. California, Louis, Barbara, and Garland than on East Meadow, Middlefield, and Alma which is what you have with the JLS and Fairmeadow combination.

Posted by Ohlone parent, a resident of Midtown
on Feb 20, 2009 at 3:10 pm

I clearly see an agenda in the posting - he or she does not want Garland to become a neigbourhood school and all the concerns about traffic - excuse me! Strattford kids are mostly non-neighbourhood kids driven to school every day by their parents. If anything traffic will be less if Garland replaces Strattford. Even if some percentage of kids (less than 25%, I bet) come from south of Oregon it won't create a worse traffic problem that now when 100% of kids are driven to school. Also, when we moved a few years ago to a house next to Ohlone (which is south of Oregon) but did not get into Ohlone our child had to attend Palo Verde, which is much farther from our house than Strattford/Garland. Our child bikes to Jordan now (we were a spill-over from JLS), and crossing Oregon has been no problem whatsoever.

Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 20, 2009 at 3:42 pm

I have no "agenda".

I do want Garland to reopen. I do want it to be a neighborhood school. My kids will not be affected by this.

I am concerned about it being a 4 strand school, with 2 classrooms special education, when not so long ago the BoE gave special waiver for some schools to exceed Board policy of 3 strands.

Like many people, I moved here valuing the fact that our schools, at all levels, were not big. I value the fact that my kids were able to stay to play at school or walk home with friends after school. I value the fact that they could ride their bikes to friends houses at weekends or days without school. I value the fact that they could return to school to play basketball, or skateboard, and that we could take them to school on Saturday mornings to take the training wheels off their bikes and let them learn to ride at their own school with the comfort that brings. This will all be lost.

A middle schooler crossing Oregon on a bike is very different to crossing with a stroller, dog, toddler on tricycle or training wheels taking a kindergartner to school, when there is very little waiting space for all the people trying to cross or enough space for waiting in the center verge since kindergartner, dog, stroller, tricycle all cannot get across on one light.

I value what I had at my elementary school and I do not want to see it lost. Kids that are constantly taken everywhere by parents do not become as independent as those that are able to get where they are going by themselves when it is the right time. Teaching an elementary school child to become independent before they reach middle school is a valuable life lesson. If a child has not been able to do it at elementary it will be much harder later to tell your teenager to start riding a bike to school if they have never been able to do it before.

Penny has made some very good points and I agree completely with her. But many parents will not feel safe letting their kids cross Oregon to school everyday.

I state my case.

Posted by palo alto mom, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Feb 20, 2009 at 5:01 pm

In an ideal world would have neighborhood schools of 300 kids, everyone could walk, we'd have great teachers, the MP rooms could hold the whole school. I believe most of our schools were built as 2 strand schools. In the real PAUSD, we have too many kids to do that and need 4 strands schools. As mentioned previously, there are PAUSD schools with smaller properties then Garland who have 480+ kids. They still manage to be great schools with strong communities.

Posted by south of Oregon resident, a resident of Midtown
on Feb 20, 2009 at 5:39 pm

I bet people who are most "concerned" about parents with kids, dogs and tricycles crossing Oregon to go to Garland are not the ones who will be actually crossing it. I am a South of Oregon parent and know many of my neighbors would not mind taking their kids across Oregon to go to Garland, so all the North of Oregon residents - chill out.

Posted by Ohlone mom, a resident of Ohlone School
on Feb 20, 2009 at 5:42 pm

How about giving South of Oregon parents a choice between Garland and Palo Verde and you will soon see how big of an issue crossing Oregon is. I don't think it is.

Posted by Teacher Mom, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 20, 2009 at 8:29 pm

My brothers would walk me to Garland on their way to Jordan when I was a kid and we were perfectly safe. Kids occasionally get hit by cars, not that I want that, but it occasionally happens. Palo Alto is turning into an alarmist community ... Opening Garland is the best thing PAUSD has done in a long time. An isolated incident shouldn't affect its progress. Take a breath, Jordan parents proceed with caution when driving around the school, because the kids aren't paying attention...

Posted by of course, a resident of Fairmeadow
on Feb 20, 2009 at 10:16 pm

"I am a South of Oregon parent and know many of my neighbors would not mind taking their kids across Oregon to go to Garland, so all the North of Oregon residents - chill out."

of course, paying a much smaller premium on housing than what the N of oregon residents did while getting the same opportunity to go to N PA school? A no-brainer! I bet all S PA people will support crossing Oregon. Not only that, they would fight for opportunities to go to Jordan and Paly, in the name of "peer steaming".

Posted by concerned parent, a resident of Jordan Middle School
on Feb 21, 2009 at 10:32 am

The bottom line with this most recent bike accident is that the child was at fault. It should be explored whether other bike or pedestrian accidents and near misses in the past at this location were always the fault of the child though. In this "sue happy" society we now live in you can bet if either of those children had been severely injured or heaven forbid killed, a really good attorney could show that both the district and the city were partly responsible for failing to improve the visibility of the crosswalk. Based on the comments we are reading here other cities seem to have no problem putting more visible improved signage and safety measures at school crosswalks and streets surrounding the school, why not at the Garland site right now?

Many kids do not listen to authority when it comes to safety, especially 11-14 year old kids who are bike riding with no adult along to supervise. While the majority are riding carefully, there are still kids riding with their friends in a large group, riding in the center of the street without bike helmets on, talking on the cell phone, listening to IPods and having friends ride on the handlebars etc. It takes a combination of parents, schools, the city, neighbors and friends along with the bike and pedestrian safety education of children to help with all these issues.

The Stratford school is a commuter school – probably a very tiny percentage of attendees walk or ride bikes to that site right now. Having many more pedestrians and bicyclists of younger ages, along with parents who park their cars in the surrounding area creates many more traffic safety issues than parents who just pull up and drop off their kids in the parking lot and drive off to work. This site was built in the 50's at a time when most kids walked to their neighborhood school probably without parents along and few families had more than one car. We don't know when the crosswalk was put in but the safety need was there even then – times change – the old safety measures in place from the 50's & 60's need to be updated to fit the needs of school children in the 21st century.

Posted by Donald, a resident of South of Midtown
on Feb 21, 2009 at 8:40 pm

Concerned Parent,
If you think that other cities and school districts are doing better in regards to safety for pedestrian and bicyclists students then you are misinformed. Palo Alto, although not perfect, does a far better job than any other city in the area. Ask around and talk to parents in Menlo Park, San Carlos, Mountain View, Los Altos or wherever you want. They all envy Palo Alto and want to have what we have in terms of concern and attention to school traffic safety.

Posted by North-South, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 23, 2009 at 12:23 pm

"of course, paying a much smaller premium on housing than what the N of oregon residents did while getting the same opportunity to go to N PA school? A no-brainer! I bet all S PA people will support crossing Oregon. Not only that, they would fight for opportunities to go to Jordan and Paly, in the name of "peer steaming"."

I think that most people in PA would be happy to go to the school that is most convenient to their home regardless of the price that they paid for their home.

In no way would all S PA families fight for opportunities to go to Jordan and Paly. Terman is a smaller middle school and Gunn needs no introduction.

Posted by palo alto mom, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Feb 23, 2009 at 1:38 pm

We have great elementary schools all across PA and I think you are correct, people wouldn't be fighting to get into Jordan and Paly. You will, however, hear a lot of complaints from parents taken out of the Walter Hays or Duveneck district (especially Hays).

Posted by Yes but, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 23, 2009 at 4:05 pm

"We have great elementary schools all across PA" True, but the schools in one half are clearly superior to the ones in the other. Also, the kids seem smarter in one half, and the parents kinder and more polite. Apples and oranges.

Posted by Seriously??, a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Feb 23, 2009 at 4:21 pm

Walter Hays had an API score only 3 points higher than El Carmelo last year and Duveneck was only 13 points higher. All but 2 schools in the district were above 900. Really people? We are fighting over the North vs. South crap again? GROW UP!

Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 24, 2009 at 3:55 pm


Ohlone has not, as far as I know, been approved for 560 kids. MI is on a three-year trial basis and the building approved would expanded Ohlone to four strands, not four-and-a-half.

Garland probably won't begin at four full strands--it's being designed to hold four strands--and I think that's reasonable to put that in the design.

At this time, no kid is being driven across town to attend schools in the north, all three are four strands and have overflow.

So, Garland should be able to pick up the North to south overflow which should then create some room *in* the south for the overflow that is beginning to happen there.

Greendell isn't empty, by the way. Preschool Family which is adult school program is there as well as Young Fives and the JCC. It's the JCC that's moving and will free up part of a school, not the whole thing.

There's also the Palo Alto hilld site, which is large and leased by Pinewood. It's out a ways, but it's a much nicer site than Greendell.

Another possibility, though it's owned by the city, is the Ventura site. It's a good location in that it's the only one between Alma and El Camino as well as being south of El Camino.

There are a lot of options here--if the district wants them. The only thing we really don't have is another middle-school site.

Posted by JSD, a resident of Palo Verde
on Feb 24, 2009 at 8:09 pm


According to Barbara Klausner at the last Ohlone PTA General meeting and to the architects who presented at the open community meeting about Ohlone building, Ohlone IS slated to become a 560-student school after the building project.

You can see the architects' presentation on the PAUSD website:
Web Link

Also, there has reportedly been no decision yet on what happens to MI at the end of the 3-year pilot. So, they don't know who the 560 students at Ohlone will be, but there will be 560. (The projection includes a full Special Day Class of 10 students.)

Posted by Erin, a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Feb 24, 2009 at 10:47 pm

The number given at the board meeting tonight for Ohlone was 540. Just wanted to give an update.

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