Palo Alto elementary enrollment up 4 percent

But district-wide headcount is up only 2 percent, in low-medium range of projections

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.

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Like this comment
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 27, 2011 at 12:28 pm

Now is the time for school officials to start planning for where these new elementary students will attend middle and high school. They are not going to magically disappear, but they will be around for high school in less than ten years.

Hurry up and plan.

Like this comment
Posted by Projections
a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 27, 2011 at 12:52 pm

If you look at that largest 4 year population (K-3) and assume that all will attend high school in Palo Alto, then both Gunn and Paly would still be below 2000 students, not much larger than today and well below the 2300 student capacities.

Like this comment
Posted by Moira
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 27, 2011 at 2:12 pm

Growth is in South Palo Alto in order for kids to go to Gunn. Boundaries will need to be re-drawn and that will create such a hissy fit that I'm glad my kids will graduate by then. The people who moved to what they believe is Gunn area did so specifically because of their "belief" that Gunn is superior based on the Newsweek ratings. Wait until some are told their kids will attend Paly to balance out numbers.

Like this comment
Posted by Walter_E_Wallis
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 28, 2011 at 7:20 am

Walter_E_Wallis is a registered user.

Time to cancel Tinsey.

Like this comment
Posted by Walter_E_Wallis
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 28, 2011 at 7:20 am

Walter_E_Wallis is a registered user.

Oops. Tinsley,

Like this comment
Posted by John Markevitch
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Sep 29, 2011 at 2:42 pm

The Palo Alto school district generally gets an influx of students between 8th and 9th grades, as people move into the district to have their children attend the high schools. Also, residents move their kids from private elementary and middle schools into the public high schools. Therefore, you can't accurately extrapolate a high school population from a four year set of elementary students without making adjustments.

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

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