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.