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Palo Verde PTA hosts Boundary Discussion

Original post made by Palo Verde Parent on Mar 13, 2009

Garland Boundary Discussion, March 18 @ 7 PM
Scott Laurence with the Garland Boundary Committee and Palo Alto Unified School District will be at Palo Verde next Wednesday evening, March 18th, 7-8 pm in the MP Room. Scott will be there to discuss the proposed elementary school boundary changes as PAUSD brings Garland Elementary School, currently the Stratford School on N. California next to Jordan Middle School, back into the district in the next couple of years.

This impacts the Palo Verde community as the proposed Garland boundary crosses south over Oregon Expressway. So future students and families living within a few blocks of Oregon in South Palo Alto may be designated as Garland students.

We look forward to seeing you on Wednesday, the 18th, at 7 pm. This event is sponsored by the Palo Verde PTA.

Comments (22)

Posted by Palo Verde Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 17, 2009 at 2:43 pm

Reminder for the meeting of this very important subject

Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 17, 2009 at 8:58 pm

PV Parent,

I'd love to hear a report on this.

Posted by Diane Reklis, a resident of Palo Verde
on Mar 18, 2009 at 2:24 pm

Palo Alto Unified recently voted to enlarge, improve, and reopen Garland Elementary School. That is good.

Palo Alto Unified recently voted to enlarge and improve Ohlone Elementary School. That is good.

The children who live closest to Garland (note this is in the north end of town) will be able to attend the school in their neighborhood, without crossing any major thoroughfares. That is good.

The children who live closest to Ohlone (note this is in the south end of town) will NOT be able to attend the school in their neighborhood, and will be expected to cross Oregon Expressway during rush hour. That is NOT good.

Those who live in the Ohlone neighborhood should be invited to attend Ohlone School if they want to. The school should include neighborhood children just as Ohlones did when it was first created. (Those few who feel the Ohlone program is not for them could request space at Garland or possibly Palo Verde.)

This would be good for everyone, even commuters. Children in both north and south Palo Alto would have a safe route to school. Fewer cars would drive to each campus and across Oregon Expressway. Increasing enrollment would be accounted for in both north and south Palo Alto. Win-win-win!

The Board should vote now to allow the children closest to Ohlone to attend the school in their neighborhood.

Diane Reklis, member of PAUSD Board of Ed 1987-1995

Posted by Huh?, a resident of Jordan Middle School
on Mar 18, 2009 at 2:52 pm

Re Diane's solution, who would send their child to Ohlone as a neighborhood school if they don't like the Ohlone choice program? Ohlone has the second lowest API scores.

People would rather drive their children across Oregon to mix with the Duveneck and Hays kids with higher API scores.

Posted by Erin (Mom of future Garland students), a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Mar 18, 2009 at 3:30 pm

I think we should wait to see what the future parents within the proposed boundary have to say about the situation. Perhaps they don't mind the crossing, perhaps they do. Why speculate?

The problem is that most of the parents who will be affected by this boundary change are not paying attention yet. Garland won't open until at least 2011 (Kindergarten for kids who are just now turning 3).

I am very appreciative of the Palo Verde PTA for making such an effort make this an open meeting and getting the word out to the community. I have not seen such an effort from the other schools involved.

Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 19, 2009 at 1:14 am


Right now, Ohlone has a major waitlist and few nonsibling spots open in the lottery.

Sorry, Huh, not everybody does things by scores. Ohlone goes up and down the list, anyway. But the school's in demand with more applicants than any of the other choice programs.

In order for Ohlone to offer admittance to local kids beyond the lottery accommodation means being able to expand.

And that means moving or closing MI.

Which would be fine with me, but I haven't heard much from the board about it. It's an interesting idea though.

Posted by Kim (Palo Verde Parent), a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 19, 2009 at 4:13 pm

I attended the meeting last night at Palo Verde about the upcoming Garland boundary changes. We had about 25 people there. A few main take-aways, from my point of view: (1) the district, they say, has yet to decide what the new boundaries will look like. There is a board meeting on March 31st where people involved in making the boundary recommendation will ask for more guidance as to what and when the board wants to see recommendations. (2) there will be an emphasis on keeping families together and not forcing older kids already rooted in a school to move. (3) Within 5 years they are projecting that Palo Verde's school population will grow by more than 100 kids. It was estimated that about 150 kids yet to attend Palo Verde but currently within the Palo Verde boundary will become Garland students. (4) The new Garland boundaries will impact Palo Verde, Fairmeadow, El Carmelo, Hays, Addison and Duveneck as the new boundaries will aim to better even out the school populations, deal with significant overflow issues at others and populate Garland.

Posted by Ada, a resident of Midtown
on Mar 20, 2009 at 9:23 am

I completely agree with Diane Reklis

Posted by Erin, a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Mar 20, 2009 at 10:32 am

Ada - just wondering if you have children in the district now or will have kids going to Garland or Palo Verde?

So here's just a thought: Garland opens with 480 student slots; it alleviates pressure at Palo Verde, and all surrounding schools. I'm going to take a wild guess here (and I can't be sure of this of course because we have no idea how the future building will populate the schools) but I think that if someone in the Garland boundary on the other side of Oregon has SUCH anguish about going to Garland they MIGHT be able to apply for an intra-district transfer to Palo Verde. Again, there may or may not be space. I don't know. I'm just throwing that out there.

I have to say though, that as I think about the term "neighborhood school" the thing that comes to my mind as I grew up in Greenmeadow and attended Fairmeadow was that the kids in my neighborhood mostly went to Fairmeadow with me. We biked to school in the morning and we played together on the weekends. That builds community. As a parent now, I can see that as a real positive. If you're in a school's boundary but always on the verge of being overflowed it could make it much harder to build that community with those families.

We're currently in the Walter Hay's boundary and the 09 Kinder group has already had a handful of playdates. If I felt like I might be overflowed (as will be the case of Palo Verde in the future if the Garland boundary doesn't cross Oregon), I'd be very hesitant to attend anything like that. On the other hand, with the Garland boundary crossing Oregon, you know you'll have a spot and you can start building those lasting relationships early on without hesitation.

That's my viewpoint as a parent of kids coming into the district now and not having those connections with kids in our neighborhood school. It's also my viewpoint having been a student in this district and having gone to a neighborhood school where I had to bike across a 4-lane Charleston Road daily with no crossing guards. I'm sure the perspectives change as your kids get older but the times also change as our schools get more crowded than I ever could have imagined.

Posted by Kim (a Palo Verde Parent), a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 20, 2009 at 2:41 pm

I have to say the whole crossing Oregon concern I find interesting. We have kids crossing El Camino, Alma and the train tracks everyday without incident. As discussed at our Palo Verde Garland Boundary meeting Wed, it was outlined how in addition to crossing guards the lights will be changed so that left-hand turning cars from Louis, Greer,etc will no longer be able to turn left while pedestrians have a "walk" sign (this is currently the case). The School District and the City clearly are in tune with the importance of making the crossing of Oregon safe for kids.

As for inter-district transfers, right now they are fairly easy because there are so few of them. We are in the Duveneck area but choose to go to Palo Verde. My guess though is that these IDTs, as they call them, will be harder to get to quell the desire of parents wanting to send their child to a school just so they don't have to cross Oregon.

Posted by Erin, a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Mar 20, 2009 at 3:59 pm

I just returned from the Greendell/Young 5s/Preschool Family presentation of the Garland Boundary meeting by Scott Laurence. It was a nice discussion with parents who actually have kids who will go to Garland in 2011 and beyond!

I asked Scott the question of intra-district transfers and he seemed to think it would not be a problem. He said he already has people asking if they can transfer their children to Garland from Palo Verde once it opens.

Like I have said before, I don't think we should be so quick to assume that everyone won't want to cross Oregon. I think some will actually want to attend a brand new, shiny school with the best PA has to offer and I think we can fight for peer streaming to Jordan and Paly for those kids if they want to go to Jordan. Again, let's not assume all will want to. I know quite a few who attended JLS when it was the only middle school and wanted to go to Jordan and then Paly when it split even though they should have stayed at JLS. Self-selection can sometimes solve your problems.

Posted by Palo Verde Parent, a resident of Palo Verde School
on Mar 20, 2009 at 4:08 pm


I agree with your assessment of how the meeting transpired, but would add a couple of things.

Scott Laurence mentioned a number of 150 students from the Palo Verde catchment area will eventually be transferred to the new Garland catchment area. Particular streets were not mentioned. He also mentioned that families already in Palo Verde would be grandfathered in so that they would not have to be changed unless they so desired.

He also mentioned the problems of peer streaming and although he did not mention specifics when asked about the possibility of these 150 students being sent to Garland, then forced to leave their peers and go to JLS for middle school and once again being forced to leave peers and go to Paly, he acknowledged that this is a real problem and a real possibility.

Finally, he did not appear to have all the up to date information about the updates on Oregon. It was up to members of the audience to fill in these blanks.

But the thing that was not mentioned is that the upgrades are a Santa Clara County upgrade not a City upgrade and it is much harder for the school district to liaise with the County than the City in these matters. Since we are not sure when the upgrades to Oregon will occur, it is possible that Garland will reopen without these upgrades having happened. This will mean that we will have the status quo with a crossing guard until such time as the County gets the work done. It is not apparent at this stage that the coordination is running as smoothly as you envision.

Posted by Erin, a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Mar 20, 2009 at 4:21 pm

Don't forget that we have a very good advocate for the schools on the City Council now. John Barton was on the school board and now serves on the City/School Liaison Committee. I think when the County shows the plans to the City he will take the Garland opening into account and do what he can to push them along and also make this as safe a crossing as possible for our students.

Posted by JSD, a resident of Palo Verde
on Mar 20, 2009 at 8:17 pm

With regard to the Oregon Expressway improvement project, I know that there is a committee from Ohlone who have been working for a long time with the County on this project, with suggestions and requests that directly impact the safety of our students/families. So, the County has been cooperative from that perspective. I'm not sure if it's too late in the game, but if Palo Verde has a traffic safety committee/volunteer, s/he/they should contact the County with input (since there is no Garland School community yet to speak up for themselves).

Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 21, 2009 at 1:00 pm

The key crossings for Ohlone are Greer and Louis. For Garland, it will be Louis and Middlefield.

Even getting a safer, crossguard crossing at Louis would help three schools (Jordan as well as Ohlone and Garland) at once. The big problem is that Oregon is intended to be an expressway and the crossings would be happening at rush hour.

I still wonder what would be involved with a bike/pedestrian bridge at Louis.

Posted by Palo Verde Parent, a resident of Palo Verde School
on Mar 21, 2009 at 9:05 pm

Ross will also be a big crossing for Garland because of the back entrance into Garland. Many cars will drop off kids as well as cars parking and also many kids walking and biking will use this back entrance. At present, this back entrance is not widely known about, but the obvious way to get there for many will be at Ross and since there is presently no light at Ross, cars and presumably bikes and foot traffic will attempt to cross here.

Posted by Erin, a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Mar 21, 2009 at 9:29 pm

Current plans for the Oregon upgrade will put a stop to any vehicle crossing of Oregon at Ross. One of the proposed plans will only allow right turns off of Ross onto Oregon and left turns off of Oregon onto Ross. No lefts from Ross onto Oregon and no cars going straight across Oregon.

Pedestrian and bike crossings at Ross, yes. Car crossings at Ross, no. Not if the county has anything to do with it!

It's important to remember that when Garland opens (hopefully in the fall of 2011) it will only open with a small number of students. They're projecting 4 strands of K and 1st grade and an optional probably 2 classes of 2nd grade. That's only 200 kids the first year.

Posted by Huh?, a resident of Jordan Middle School
on Mar 22, 2009 at 11:11 am


Boy, is that ever short-sighted. Just think about the first year of students and don't consider the size of the school in the future.

That was PA's problem in the first place when they began razing elementaries and building houses in their place without thinking of the future. There used to be at least four other elementaries in the late 70s: Ortega, Crescent Park, DeAnza, Van Auken. Yep, City Council sold the land to developers for the cash. History repeats itself.

Posted by Erin, a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Mar 22, 2009 at 9:41 pm

I know the history of the city, thank you. I was born and raised here. Actually, Van Auken still exists and Ohlone is housed there now. Hoover used to be on Middlefield and was torn down and moved to the current site where Ohlone used to be.

History aside, I don't think you were understanding my point and you jumped to conclusions.

People are saying that the County may not have the Oregon improvement projects done by the time the school opens in 2011 even though they have stated on their website that construction will happen in 2010.

My point was that when the school opens in the FALL of 2011, there will be less than half of a school starting there and we won't have the traffic impact that we'll have when the school is at full capacity in 2015. (2015-16 is the date the district has given at the boundary meetings for when they've proposed to have kids at all grade levels within the new boundary area attending Garland).

I'm not sure how that's short-sighted.

Posted by Huh?, a resident of Jordan Middle School
on Mar 23, 2009 at 10:24 am


Your thinking is short-sighted, the district is short-sighted in thinking that Garland will work for the future. Eventually, they will have to pull back South PA schools to South PA when they open Greendell Elementary, which they will open due to the growth in PA. Because North PA will need those spots. Guess it doesn't matter since it isn't their children they are messing with.

Sure, Palo Verde would love to come to North PA, where the API scores are better. And everyone will be driving so it is going to make it dangerous over on North California.

If Garland parents are know-it-alls like you, I'm staying far away from Garland, thank you.

Posted by OhlonePar, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 23, 2009 at 4:42 pm


I don't know that it's that clear that Greendell will be reopened next. Garland will be taking up a large chunk of the overcrowding, but Ohlone's also being expanded. Besides Greendell, Pinewood is still owned by the district and Ventura's owned by the city. Ventura might be a better site for a neighborhood school since it would serve the area that has no walkable school.

Bikes won't be crossing Oregon at Ross with no light. Certainly not at rush hour. Doesn't mean the Ross entrance won't be accessed in other ways--cars going west on Oregon and then turning right. I certainly see it as a drop-off spot.

Posted by Erin, a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Mar 23, 2009 at 7:07 pm

Adding portable on top of potable on top of portable is short-sighted.

Having the guts to finally make the investment to open a school and take the first step towards alleviating the overcrowding in our district is a good move and it is too bad this administration is taking the heat for something that they had no control over 40 years ago instead of being congratulated for their efforts now.

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