School board to ponder interim use for day care site

Fairmeadow expansion, college-prep achievement, also on tonight's school board agenda

Possible "interim uses" of the old Peninsula Day Care site on San Antonio Road will be discussed tonight by the Palo Alto Board of Education. (View the agenda)

The school district is under contract to purchase the 2.6-acre property, closing Nov. 1. The parcel backs up to Greendell School, which is contiguous with Cubberley Community Center. Herman Shaw, who operated Peninsula Day Care Center for 37 years, retired and closed the center in June.

"While there are many scenarios for school placement and facilities construction, it is clear that there will be a minimum of two years before construction on the 525 San Antonio Road property can commence," school Superintendent Kevin Skelly said.

Skelly said he is seeking direction from the board on possibilities for renting the space in the meantime.

The school district has been grappling with unexpectedly rapid enrollment growth, particularly in the elementary grades in the southern part of town.

While indicating more classrooms will be needed, the district has yet to articulate specific plans for the San Antonio site, the old Cubberley High School campus or the Garland School site, whose lease to a private school will terminate in June 2014.

However, the board tonight is expected to approve a $6.1 million "modernization and new construction" project that will add some capacity at Fairmeadow Elementary School.

In other business tonight, the board will hear a report on progress toward its stated goal of having 85 percent of district graduates meeting prerequisites for entrance to the University of California or California State University systems.

Among Palo Alto students who graduated this past June, 82 percent of Gunn graduates and 77 percent of Paly graduates had fulfilled the so-called "A-G requirements" for entrance into the state's four-year universities.

The board also will hear an update on pre-kindergarten programs at Greendell School, including Springboard to Kindergarten, which recently completed the second year of a three-year pilot underwritten by the Heising-Simons Foundation.

Ken Dauber, a parent in the school district who has lobbied for specific efforts to reduce academic stress, urged parents to come to tonight's meeting to push for early and frequent progress reports toward that goal.

Dauber posted to fellow members of the group he founded, We Can Do Better Palo Alto, that the scheduled April report on counseling and May report on homework policy are not soon enough.

The public segment of tonight's meeting begins at 6:30 p.m. in the board room of school district headquarters, 25 Churchill Ave.

Chris Kenrick

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Like this comment
Posted by Posted from elsewhere
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Oct 25, 2011 at 2:50 pm

In relation to the adoption of the new calendar, several provisos were made as conditions on the vote. We are almost in November and, perhaps there is work in progress, but I am not aware of any efforts to address the action items by November. So, I have several questions:

- Have specific individuals/teams been identified as owners of the action items and who are they?
- What will constitute satisfactory action plans and how they will be reviewed? Will the stakeholders (students, parents, teachers) be involved in that review? Will the review be done in site council meetings or other public forum (that is properly noticed) so that interested parties have an opportunity to give input? I would hope that student stakeholders will include a broad representation of the entire study body.
- After implementation, how will success be measured? Is it reasonable to expect plans to be tested and success measured before the change in the calendar?
- Is it logical to continue forward with the Pre-Break Finals calendar?

Given that one of the recently adopted goals of the district’s Strategic Plan is reducing unnecessary academic stress as it pertains to the

Purpose and volume of homework K-12 and
The system of distributing test and project deadlines.

It appears that the condensed calendar was adopted as a solution before there was a serious effort to understand the problem. Furthermore, the condensed calendar has significant impacts on extra-curricular activities which support students’ social-emotional-physical health and connectedness, another of the key goals in the Strategic Plan supporting Developmental Assets.

What is going to be done about sports programs where spring sports will culminate during finals week?

What about homework loads over Thanksgiving and Memorial weekends?

What about school holiday traditions like the Paly Choir Madrigal dinner?

When Thanksgiving falls early as in 2012 there will be a longer period between Thanksgiving and the start of winter break, but when Thanksgiving falls late as in 2013 there will be one week less. How is this going to impact December events in our schools?

Has anyone worked out any of these issues as staff were told by the board at the time of the vote. Many parents spoke at the meeting as well as teachers and sports coaches bringing up these problems. Has anything been done to address the problems?

Like this comment
Posted by looking for daycare
a resident of Downtown North
on Oct 25, 2011 at 2:54 pm

how about an AFFRODABLE daycare of after school care site?

Like this comment
Posted by voted no
a resident of Palo Verde
on Oct 25, 2011 at 4:21 pm

Too bad that the electorate (foolishly) chose to see off 11 elementary school sites in the 80's. Once sold, YOU CANNOT GET LAND BACK.

Like this comment
Posted by Posted from elsewhere
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Oct 26, 2011 at 12:28 pm

Where is a report about this discussion from last night's board meeting? Was this discussed?

Like this comment
Posted by Chris Kenrick, Palo Alto Weekly staff writer
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Oct 26, 2011 at 1:12 pm

Posted from elsewhere,

Here you go:

In a separate discussion late Tuesday night, board members endorsed suggestions by district staff members to seek short-term tenants for property the district plans to acquire at 525 San Antonio Road. The $8.5 million acquisition of the old Peninsula Day Care site is scheduled to close Nov. 1.

Skelly said it's likely to be at least two years before the district is ready to build on the property, and staff would seek to lease the site in the interim.

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

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