Palo Alto parents slated for bond oversight role

School board also to discuss report on special education at tonight's meeting

Three Palo Alto parents are expected to be confirmed by the Palo Alto Board of Education tonight to help oversee spending under the school district's $378 million construction program.

Investment manager Todd Collins, architect Catherine Garber and psychologist Mary Marth were nominated to join the Citizens' Oversight Committee for the Strong Schools Bond. The seven-member group is charged with monitoring spending of the facilities bond funds, which were approved by nearly 78 percent of voters in June 2008.

Collins and Marth have children currently enrolled in Palo Alto schools. Garber's children recently graduated from Palo Alto High School.

Managed by the district's Chief Business Official Robert Golton, the bond construction program will touch each of the district's 18 major campuses, with major construction at the two high schools, three middle schools and at least one elementary campus.

Besides general modernization and upgrades, construction is focused on expanding capacity for anticipated enrollment growth.

Ever since a post-Baby Boom nadir in 1989-1990 when district-wide enrollment was 7,452, enrollment has been on a steady upward trajectory. It currently stands at about 12,000. Historically, enrollment in Palo Alto schools peaked in 1967-1968 at 15,575.

In other business tonight, the board will discuss a consultant's review of the district's Special Education Program. The program serves about 10.4 percent of the district's students.

The review comes at a time of transition for the Special Education Program, following the June 30 retirement of longtime director Carol Zepecki. Holly Wade, formerly director of special education for the Los Gatos-Saratoga Union High School District, was named in May to replace Zepecki.

Following a 5:30 p.m. closed session on personnel, liability and labor issues, tonight's meeting will begin at 6:30 p.m. in the board room of school district headquarters, 25 Churchill Ave.

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