News


Palo Alto school district to take back Garland

Classrooms will be needed to accommodate booming growth, members say

With booming enrollment in Palo Alto elementary schools, the Board of Education Monday voted to take back the old Garland Elementary School site to make way for more classrooms.

The campus, at 870 N. California Ave., has been leased for the past six years to Stratford Schools, Inc., which runs a preschool-through-fifth-grade program there.

The school board voted 5-0 to serve the three years' notice required under the lease, meaning Stratford will have to vacate by June 30, 2014.

High elementary growth projections for Palo Alto schools gave them little choice but to take back Garland, board members said.

"What's really driving this is that we've seen enrollment growth through thick and think -- seemingly independent of economic conditions and seemingly independent of housing turnover," board member Dana Tom said.

"This has surprised us and surprised our demographers.

"I feel we don't have much choice at this point (but to take back Garland). We need to be able to deal with the growth we expect will continue."

Board members thanked a Stratford representative for being a model tenant and said they would like to rent to the company again if other space becomes available.

Palo Alto is preparing for a high-growth scenario after unexpectedly large bumps in elementary enrollment in the last two years.

After growing at about 2.1 percent from 2005 to 2009, elementary enrollment jumped 4.5 percent last fall and is expected to do the same this fall.

Superintendent Kevin Skelly has said the district must be ready to handle as many as 568 additional K-5 students in the next five years -- the size of a large elementary school.

Current or pending construction at Ohlone and Fairmeadow elementary schools will provide a net gain of seven new classrooms, with an additional three classrooms expected in planned renovations to Duveneck Elementary School.

Garland could provide 24 classrooms.

In a presentation to the school board last week, officials cited a variety of possible uses for the Garland site, including as a neighborhood elementary school, an alternative program such as language immersion or as a site for preschool and the Young Fives program currently housed at Greendell, adjacent to the Cubberley Community Center at 4000 Middlefield Road.

The last possibility would free up Greendell to become a neighborhood school in a part of the city that has experienced a high level of growth.

Comments

Like this comment
Posted by Resident
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Jun 12, 2011 at 7:15 pm

Really glad that they are thinking outside the box and not automatically thinking of a mega elementary school like last time.

Greendell makes a much more sensible site for an elementary school because it is situated where the housing is being built. Garland can be used in other ways to free up Greendell. Move all the language immersion programs and young fives to Garland and the extra space at Escondido would help alleviate overcrowding in the north elementaries.


Like this comment
Posted by Native
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Jun 12, 2011 at 10:00 pm

Yes, please use Garland for Young Fives instead of a neighhborhood school. Last round when they considered Garland they claimed 80% of the students at Garland would be from south Palo Alto. Imagine the traffic on Louis Rd. in the mornings since south PA residents would mostly be driving across Oregon Express.

Greendell is in south PA so would be a more accessible location.

Better yet, move Hoover choice school to Greendell and make Hoover a neighborhood school. Greendell is an ideal location for a choice school due to the large parking Cubberley parking lot.


Like this comment
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 13, 2011 at 11:37 am

<<"What's really driving this is that we've seen enrollment growth through thick and think -- seemingly independent of economic conditions and seemingly independent of housing turnover," board member Dana Tom said.

"This has surprised us and surprised our demographers>>

What nonsense. None of us in the community are surprised and the BoE should not be surprised either. The demographers are just statisticians and do not come from Palo Alto, so their surprise shows their incompetence at their job. The BoE live here and have been involved in the schools for years. Their surprise shows lack of involvement at the ground floor level of their job.

At least they now acknowledge there is a bigger problem and I hope that they realise that what starts out as an elementary problem will be a high school problem in less than 10 years. "Elementary, my dear Watson".


Like this comment
Posted by Amanda
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 13, 2011 at 4:17 pm

They were surprised, really? Um, with all the new homes they didn't see this coming? You've got to be joking.


Like this comment
Posted by Concerned Resident
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Jun 13, 2011 at 7:11 pm

So, what happens in ten years when all of these kids are going to high school? Are we seriously jut going to cram them into Gunn and Paly?

We need more elementary classrooms---I agree. But we need to start discussing re-opening Cubberley as a third high school NOW. This is a recipe for disaster.


Like this comment
Posted by Amand
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 13, 2011 at 8:40 pm

Totally agree. Time to start addressing the High School issue now. Don't want to make the same mistake they made not voting to open Garland two years ago again.


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Posted by Heather
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Jun 14, 2011 at 12:58 pm

There are many who forget the fight we put up many years ago to keep a number of these school sites, when the board wanted to sell even more than was done, as they projected a fall-off in population. Those with children in elementary schools now should thank the visionaries like Carol Saal who spearheaded the flight to retain schools.


Like this comment
Posted by Penny
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Jun 14, 2011 at 3:01 pm

What is the plan to deal with projected 89% enrollment increase in the south cluster? There is 23% projected increase in the north cluster. We need to have a substantive community discussion about this ASAP.

Here Web Link is the presentation that staff gave at last week’s Study Session re: enrollment and facilities.



Like this comment
Posted by Fun with statistics
a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 14, 2011 at 3:17 pm

"What is the plan to deal with projected 89% enrollment increase in the south cluster? There is 23% projected increase in the north cluster. We need to have a substantive community discussion about this ASAP."

That is not correct. It states of 89% of the growth will come from the south (23% from the north, and -12% from the west). See how that adds up to 100%? It's not that the south enrollment will grow by 89%.


Like this comment
Posted by jardins
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 14, 2011 at 11:21 pm

Just as the realtors and developers are hand-in-hand with the PAUSD, the demographers need to communicate with all those 3 parties.


Like this comment
Posted by susan
a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 15, 2011 at 10:35 am

Totally agree with Amand and Concerned Resident. The high schools are ridiculously large and will keep growing. Garland should have been taken back five years ago. Very shortsighted.......


Like this comment
Posted by Parent of Gunn Grad
a resident of Gunn High School
on Jun 15, 2011 at 10:52 am

@Armand, Susan,

You can't have small high schools and lots of AP courses. A variety of AP's require a critical mass of students--don't know what the optimum is. So, parents need to know what the tradeoffs are and decide what is more important. Of course, foward looking schools like Castelaja (sp?) are dropping some AP's, so maybe small is better than AP.


Like this comment
Posted by Concerned Resident
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Jun 15, 2011 at 12:14 pm

@Parent of Gunn Grad

True, you need a large school. But we're talking about 4000-5000 kids in two high school. A student body of 1666 students--with approx. 833 kids who are juniors and seniors and taking AP classes--isn't necessarily a "small" school, is it? They would still offer the AP staples (the sciences; the calculus and stat classes; AP English).

Also, Cubberley doesn't have to be a "normal" third high school. We could have it be a magnet school or something like that--perhaps it could focus on arts or vocational classes--if Foothill still offered classes there, then perhaps it could offer a different type of college prep curriculum with students also taking community college classes. It just needs to be popular off to take some of the pressure off of Paly and Gunn.

(I'm saying Cubberley for the simple reason it's there, but there is no reason why a third high school couldn't be somewhere else--it's just the only available campus off the top of my head.)

APs don't make a high school--STUDENTS make a high school. And Palo Alto is about to get bombarded with high school students.


Like this comment
Posted by palo alto mom
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 15, 2011 at 2:52 pm

Penny - I don't know if you read the whole article, but one of the options would be using Greendell (south PA) as an elementary and moving Young Fives to Garland. Greendell is also an excellent spot for the choice/commuters schools because it has lots of parking and a stop light at the entrance. I would love to see both immersion programs and perhaps Hoover at Greendell (Ohlone's farm is pretty integral to its curriculum and hard to move).

Garland is not a bad commuter site, but there are lots of kids biking down N. California in the morning, so the school start times would need to be well coordinated.

HS size - school size has less to do with feeling connected than the school atmosphere and the attitude of the teachers. If we grow our high schools, we REALY need to get rid of the teachers with bad attitudes and chips on their shoulders.

Adding a performing arts school would be wonderful (hardly anyone in PA is going to admit their kid is a voc ed candidate). We have a strong art/music/theater program in the elementary and middle schools and an abundance of talented kids who may feel more connected and successful in an art environment vs. the current "academics at all cost" environment of both Gunn and Paly.


Like this comment
Posted by Hulkamania
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 16, 2011 at 1:00 am

PAUSD should rent some instant schools on trailers from Vegas. They sure don't need them any more


Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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