Community committee to advise on new Palo Alto elementary school
Board sets spring decision date for opening between 2014 and 2017
A yet-to-be-appointed community advisory committee will examine two possible venues for a 13th elementary school in Palo Alto, Board of Education members said Thursday, Oct. 25.
The board expects to make its final decision on the location and timing of a new elementary school by next April or May.
Possibilities include a phased-in school starting as early as fall 2014, with just a few elementary grades, to the opening of a full-fledged campus in fall 2017, according to the board's discussion in the study session on enrollment and facilities.
The community advisory committee will be appointed following a Nov. 13 meeting at which the board plans to finalize its process for gathering community comment on the new school.
The committee will be asked to examine the tradeoffs between re-opening the Garland campus at 870 N. California Ave. versus the Greendell campus at 4120 Middlefield Road in conjunction with adjoining district property fronting on 525 San Antonio Road.
The committee would not choose a specific site but would present the relative trade-offs to inform a recommendation by Superintendent Kevin Skelly.
Board members also asked Skelly to present by November a timeline for the launching of a fourth middle school. They've already given Skelly the go-ahead to scout for possible new middle-school venues.
"I hear your interest in a middle school, but frankly I believe we can work on that one with a little bit less urgency than this (elementary school decision)," Skelly told board members Thursday, adding he would present information about a middle school timeline in November.
Ann Dunkin, the district's chief technology officer, presented charts on how accurately past demographic projections matched actual enrollment growth.
Under moderate projections that have proven reliable, Dunkin said, recent new construction means the district will have "plenty" of elementary space until 2018-19.
"In 2020 we cross the line, with more students than space we will have with currently built and planned elementary classroom space," Dunkin said.
Current plans call for the community advisory committee to have about 10 members and to be co-chaired by Dunkin and Kathleen Meagher, the district's director of elementary education and former principal of Duveneck Elementary School.
Board members asked that Dunkin hold an open application process for committee membership.
Staff Writer Chris Kenrick can be emailed at email@example.com.