School starts for more than 12,000 Palo Alto kids

Enrollment appears to be up, with new principals on 5 of 17 campuses

More than 12,000 K-12 Palo Alto students headed back to 17 campuses Tuesday (Aug. 23) for the first day of the 2011-12 academic year in the Palo Alto Unified School District.

Enrollment appears to be up -- particularly in the early grades, according to registration data.

But headcount won't be finalized for another two weeks because there are always some students who register and then fail to show up after they move out of town or switch to a private school, Superintendent Kevin Skelly said.

Officials are working to accommodate the increasing demand for classroom space with extensive construction and modernization projects across the district, using funds from a $378 million facilities bond approved by voters in 2008.

Students who returned to Gunn and Palo Alto high schools encountered construction zones as Paly breaks ground to add a new, two-story classroom building and a new media arts center and Gunn begins work on two new classroom buildings and a new gym.

At Ohlone Elementary School, a new, two-story building with 12 classrooms -- under construction since last fall -- will be ready for occupancy by winter break.

Groundbreakings also are expected in the coming school year for construction at Fairmeadow Elementary School as well as Jordan, Jane Lathrop Stanford and Terman middle schools.

New faces occupy the principal's offices on five campuses -- Barron Park, Duveneck, Escondido and Fairmeadow elementary schools, and Jordan Middle School.

At Paly, there's an unusually high number of new teachers -- 13, according to Principal Phil Winston.

Gunn opens the school year with 10 new teachers and a morning start time that's been pushed back to 8:25 a.m. in an effort to help kids get a better night's sleep, Principal Katya Villalobos said.

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Like this comment
Posted by Midtown Guy
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 23, 2011 at 11:38 am

Good idea to start the day at Gunn at 8:25, but please report
from the other time period as well--when does the school day END (i.e.,is this a reduction in class time or will instruction be maintained at the previous level), and how will this affect sports and other after school activities?

Like this comment
Posted by Good news/bad news
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Aug 23, 2011 at 3:10 pm

Good idea to start later, but it does indeed mean that Gunn ends later..affecting sports practices, times kids get to other after school activities or jobs, and times kids get home.

Unfortunately, many other activities are not able to flex back 1/2 hour, so it is a problem.

And, kids taking busses from the hills have to get on the bus at the same time because the middle schools and elementary schools still start early. So, no change for those Gunn students. Teens with little brothers and sisters at the other schools, being dropped off on the way to Mom or Dad's job..still have to leave early.

But, I am hopeful that we can adjust....we are flexible, and can figure this out.

Like this comment
Posted by Check the website
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 23, 2011 at 3:21 pm

From the Gunn website: school ends at 3:35 on M-W-F, and at 2:29 on Tu-Th. On Tu, tutorial is still after school until 3:35, and school ends at 3:35 on assembly days.

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