An elementary enrollment boom charges ahead in Palo Alto this fall, with city-wide K-5 growth -- at 4 percent -- approaching the high end of projections.
But district-wide, Palo Alto's K-12 headcount of 12,286 is up only 2 percent over last year. That overall figure falls in the low-to-medium range of projections made by the school district's consulting demographers.
The new numbers come in the school district's official enrollment report for 2011-12, which will be discussed tonight (Tuesday, Sept. 27) by the Board of Education.
Middle school enrollment rose 1.9 percent, slightly above the low end of projections.
And high school enrollment was flat, actually declining when alternative programs such as the Hospital School and Middle College were taken into account.
Racing to stay ahead of the elementary surge, school officials last spring discussed plans to add up to 30 new classrooms in the next five years in addition to the 10 new ones already under construction or in the pipeline at Ohlone, Fairmeadow and Duveneck schools.
And tonight, the Board of Education will discuss the possible purchase of a 2.6-acre parcel on San Antonio Road for $8.5 million. The funds would come from the elementary school portion of a $378 million facilities bond measure approved by voters in 2008.
The proposed acquisition is the site of the former Peninsula Day Care Center, which backs up to the district's Greendell School campus and is contiguous with the 35-acre Cubberley site.
Officials also have asserted an intention eventually to reclaim Cubberley -- now leased to the City of Palo Alto and used as a community center -- for school use. But they have been mum about specifics.
The Board of Education and the City Council are scheduled to launch discussions this fall about the future of the aging campus, which closed as a high school in 1979.
Current bond measure construction is intended to expand capacity at Gunn and Palo Alto high schools to accommodate up to 2,300 student each. Headcount this fall is 1,864 at Gunn and 1,885 at Paly.
The district's 12 elementary schools range in enrollment size from 336 at Barron Park to 583 at Ohlone, where a new, two-story classroom building is set to open by winter break.
District-wide, enrollment has been on an upward trajectory since 1989. But, at 12,286, it has yet to approach its historic high of nearly 16,000 hit in 1968. At that time, the district had three high schools, three middle schools and more than 20 elementary schools.
Tonight's Board of Education meeting begins at 6:30 p.m. in the board room of school district headquarters, 25 Churchill Ave.