Town Square

Castilleja to increase enrollment

Original post made by Palo Alto on Jul 16, 2013

As I understand it, Castilleja School, a private all girl middle and high school on Bryant Street, will be increasing their enrollment numbers. Does anyone know the specifics such as by how many students and how many additional staff and when?


Posted by Mom, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Jul 16, 2013 at 4:01 pm

I would never send my child to an all-girls school. All those strong personalities? [Portion removed.]Who send their children to daycare because they'd prefer a career to spending time with them? (Thanks, Mom). This is why children are a mess today - too many working moms. It's one thing if the income is necessary, but if a woman wants a career, she should only have one child or none.

Posted by Not an issue, a resident of Community Center
on Jul 16, 2013 at 4:04 pm

At least we can hope that they do not turn out to be little Michelle bachmans and Sarah palins. Vapid, incompetent underachievers who lie constantly.

Posted by Hmmm, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Jul 16, 2013 at 6:02 pm

Huh. I know a number of females who attended Castilleja. Among them were several orphans w/healthy trust funds, a child of a working divorcee (is divorcee still commonly used?) who was a soccer star, several whose moms were stay at home and some whose moms were career-oriented. They all turned out fine, as far as I can tell - including the moms. No politicians so far...

A few years back, some of the high school students interviewed me for a class project & they were impressive young ladies. It's a very good school that fills a needed niche, for boarders & locals alike. I'm glad to hear that it is still thriving.

Posted by business opportunity, a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Jul 16, 2013 at 10:24 pm

Private schools can find a business opportunity in Palo Alto catering to parents who want a first rate education with social emotional support and less naked competition. People who opt out of the public schools in this community tend to be those who want the supportive school environment that is often lacking in our public middle and high schools.

This is much like the way that private tutoring centers exploit the niche market created by our schools' fast paced classes and the rigid tracking system that forces students to seek a lot of extra help to keep up.

PAUSD supports local businesses -- look at all the opportunities it creates.

Posted by Another angle, a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 16, 2013 at 10:52 pm

FYI, Joan Baez and Grace Slick were classmates at Castilleja.

Posted by village fool, a resident of another community
on Jul 17, 2013 at 5:38 am

@Another angle - as far as I remember Joan Baez recalled in one of the documentaries that were made about the civil rights time music making, that her father, the physics professor, laughed and explained to her that the drills she went through in Paly - running to "duck and cover", thinking it was a way to protect should the Soviet decide to attack, were pointless. The "Soviet bomb" would reached Palo alto by far faster than the time they had to run to shelter. I may be wrong here, or possibly Joan Baez went to both high schools. Off topic trivia.

Posted by Good Examples?, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Jul 17, 2013 at 10:55 am

Re the Casti alums stated above, Joan Baez graduated from Paly, not Casti. Plus, someone who consistently engages in civil disobedience wouldn't be a prime idol for students.

Grace Slick's dad was an alcoholic and she engaged in alcohol and drugs most of her life. Did academics at Casti help shape her choice of career?

I wouldn't want my daughter to attend Castilleja. A student population diluted with males is preferable. Real-world experience and less craziness. A school full of girls would be a nightmare to me.

Posted by Paly Alum, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Jul 17, 2013 at 12:54 pm

Paly is more difficult academically than Castilleja. As above poster mentioned, parents are paying for more coddling and inroads to Ivy League colleges because the counselors have ties with universities.

Posted by Only for the rich, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 17, 2013 at 1:05 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Posted by village fool, a resident of another community
on Jul 17, 2013 at 1:05 pm

@business opportunity - I think you have a point here, unfortunately (I have always supported public education). The following link is about Castilleja's decision to drop AP science - Web Link

Posted by palo alto parent, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jul 18, 2013 at 10:59 am

Castilleja is primarily a school with many comfortable to wealthy students with parents that vary from venture capitalist to movie stars to college professors. Contrary to "only for the rich" comment, there are students of color at the school and there are students on scholarships. And Ms. Caswell had a child there who wanted to attend an all-girls school but she also has a child in PAUSD.

It is NOT easier than Paly or Gunn, just different, parents who have had kids at both schools say that Casti goes into more depth for their subjects and Paly requires more memorization (people say that about PAUSD schools versus other local high schools too). There is not more "coddling" than Paly or Gunn, but there is certainly infinitely more support because of the size of the school.

Casti has other advantages, great speakers that come to the school, mentoring after school, a great internship/jobs program for their alumni while in college and beyond.

Posted by Hmmm, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Jul 18, 2013 at 12:43 pm

Palo Alto Parent - that has been my "experience" as well w/Casti students. I know lower income kids who've gone there, non-Caucasian kids, too. Growing up in this area, I always thought, in the back of my mind, that Casti girls would all be little hothouse flowers, but that was far from the truth! One girl I grew up w/said going there helped her get through family strife & change better because she wasn't distracted by boys & sexual politics, was able to channel her anger through sports & still do well in school.

The in-depth study of subjects is very true, which is why I was asked to be interviewed on some projects. I found it impressive, because the students were able to develop good analytical abilities. The students there who've liked it appreciate the structure, that it's girls only & for the orphans I've known who've attended, it was a safe, supportive structure. I'm not saying other schools don't provide these things, I'm just talking about Castilleja.

Boarding schools here on the west coast aren't as popular as in the east, so a lot of people aren't familiar w/the whole experience.

I'm not sure why there are so many derisive comments - Paly sure has its problems. Castilleja doesn't have as many students committing suicide, for example. I've been to both private & public schools & each offers the upside w/the downside.

I'm glad that it's thriving. While young women today have more choices than before, that means that the challenges can be even more confusing. We need good schools that offer various scenarios for kids to succeed and Castilleja is one of them.

Thanks for your clarification - you were able to aptly explain the difference between coddling & support.

Posted by Palo Alto, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jul 18, 2013 at 7:41 pm

Just to stay on topic: Castilleja has about 425 students and the administration is in the works with the city to increase this number to well over 500.

Posted by Only for the rich, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 19, 2013 at 12:09 am

My opinion is still that Castilleja is only for the rich. As a long-term Palo Altan and a Mexican-American, I have several alumnae as my close friends and we have discussed enrollment for decades. They simply do not have any significant number of color who are from the middle or lower classes. They have a few students of color whose parents are of the ruling economic class but it is disingenuous to mention a token scholarship that may let a student of color from East Palo Alto participate in the school. This is not a criticism of the school. It is the deliberate design. Please make sure that you delete the entire post that mentions Melissa Caswell because you deleted my entire post. I do find the deletion racist. Will it help my post's chances of survival if I say that it is merely my own opinion or am I forbidden to mention race or racism? I would think a community as educated and progressive as ours would allow me to point out the obvious that Castilleja is an exclusive, not an inclusive, school.

Posted by village fool, a resident of another community
on Jul 19, 2013 at 8:56 am

The following is an off topic comment:
@Only for the rich - I was very supervised to see that your entire first post was deleted. Your deleted comment was clearly your personal observation of the school, and quite obviously description of the situation in most private schools. A private school is by definition not for everyone. I applaud any private school/college granting scholarships to those who can not afford the full tuition. Last I heard this is a Democratic Country, private schools are totally legal.
I am taking this opportunity to note that I can not grasp some of the moderator actions. I had before situations where my comments were comments removed completely, without even a trace that I posted.
I also happened to see few others. For example - "how odd" posted here (Web Link) a comment that included only one word - Why? That comment was removed completely without the trace that "how odd" even posted. "how odd" responded to "D lamp" comment who was reminded of another political situation. "D Lamp" provided a link to the political situation. "D lamp" comment was removed. I can not find the link "D- lamp" provided, here is another one relating to that political situation: Web Link
I took the time to write a longer comment since removing a comment that had one word - Why? (with a question mark) - seemed to me to be questionable. My longer comment asking about the - Why? - comment was remove completely, without a trace I ever asked.

Posted by Concerned Old Palo Neighbor, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jul 24, 2013 at 12:10 am


At a recent meeting involving neighbors dealing with the proposed increase and parking issues by current Head Mistress - Nanci Kauffman and Head of Finance - Sue Reynari, the current use permit by the city of Palo Alto allows Castilleja to admit 415 students. The 6.75 acres the school is located only pays $46k in real estate tax per year to the County of Santa Clara. The school is a non-profit and gets tax privileges for the $16M+ in tuition it already receives annually from the 415 students.

The school has just notified the neighborhood that they are in VIOLATION of the permit by +30 students. The current tuition is approx $36k (it was $16.6k in 2000), the numbers equate to an additional $1,080,000 to the school in tuition alone. This excludes books and uniforms as well as other booster expenses.

Nancy, Sue, Barbara Rosten and Joe from the school's board mentioned that they expected less of a "yield" for the +30 students illegally admitted to the school over the 415 allowed. They are absolutely deceiving the city and the community with their lies, the school has a higher demand for enrollment than they can admit and expected these +30 students to slide in for the coming year or be grandfathered.

What's worse is that they say they don't have enough financial resources to already put a shuttle in place from centers where there is a concentration of students: Los Altos, Portola Valley and Woodside. Another reason they shared for increased enrollment is greater diversity, socioeconomic. It was clear that 80% of the students pay full tuition and 20% receive tuition assistance, which could mean payment plans and not loan forgiveness. In terms of diversity, they should get a better admission committee if they can't form a diverse class with 415 students.

As long as the current demand for admission is where it is and growing, the school will only increase revenue over time from increased tuition and enrollment at the expense of greater traffic to the peripheral neighborhood and surrounding area. There is no value add for a non-profit school with tax exempt status to the City of Palo Alto or for little county taxes coming back to Palo Alto for our public schools.

Posted by Mom, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jul 26, 2013 at 4:44 pm

There is already traffic chaos in the morning with the current over-enrollment. There would need to be a significantly different transportation for this to work safely.

Posted by palo alto parent, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jul 26, 2013 at 4:57 pm

Casti is a great school - but they already have plenty of money. They have a huge endowment they could tap into for shuttles, off-site parking etc. In addition, you would think they could manage with funding of $36K per student since Palo Alto manages with less than half of that. I also question why a school that receives tax breaks as a non-profit can be allowed to fundraise as extensively as they have. Doesn't seem quite fair.