News

Superintendent calls for committee work on new elementary school

Recommendation comes in conjunction with Palo Alto enrollment report for school year

The Palo Alto school district's debate over the urgency to open a 13th elementary school, defined by years of delays in decision making, took a new turn Tuesday night with Superintendent Max McGee recommending the board convene a committee to examine the need for a new school.

The majority of the school board got behind McGee's recommendation, which came in conjunction with the 14th day enrollment report for this school year, which shows continued growth, overflow of students to schools farther away and limited classroom space in the areas of the district that are the most crowded. Projected future growth means sending more elementary school students to more distant sites to keep class sizes small; and using portables and sharing classrooms at Palo Alto's near-capacity middle schools.

"I'll tell you my experience in looking at this data: I do think it's time we address this," he said.

McGee called to either reconvene a past study committee that worked on the issue or create a new advisory team to look at a path forward on a new 13th elementary school as well as possibly a fourth middle school -- "and/or other innovative, educationally sound ways of managing our growth." He said the committee should launch this fall and provide the board with recommendations in the spring.

All board members, with the exception of Camille Townsend, expressed a similar urgency in finally getting this done.

"It's been very hard for our school sizes to be at a comfortable level, and I think they've been at that (uncomfortable) level for awhile," said board member Dana Tom. "Given the expected growth that we will likely see, the question of a fourth middle school and 13th elementary school is a question of when, and not if."

Tom, whose term ends in November, suggested that the new board look at a demographer's report in early December, which will provide updated projections, and then "make a high-level call" before even convening a committee.

President Barb Mitchell, whose term also ends this fall, said she doesn't think the demographer's report will shed new light, and urged the next board to move forward with work on approving a facilities master plan for enrollment growth, which the district does not have. Mitchell remembered an advisory committee that in 2007 warned the board it had "passed the trigger point" on building a new school.

"It's time to act and to get some action items on the board agenda as opposed to information items," she said.

Vice President Melissa Baten Caswell said when her son started five years ago at Jane Lathrop Stanford Middle School, "it felt pretty packed." Both JLS and Jordan Middle School now enroll about 1,100 students and are projected to continue to grow.

"I'm concerned that we don't have a strong plan for how we're going to manage middle school growth over the long term," Caswell said. "I'm actually more worried about that than I am at the elementary level."

Though Townsend expressed her support for building new elementary and middle schools, she described this year's enrollment numbers as "calm."

"These numbers don't surprise me," she said. "I've seen numbers that make me more nervous."

She also warned McGee to be careful on how he moves forward on the committee.

"There's nothing more upsetting than talking about boundary changes, which could be envisioned or not envisioned in a school, so I think we have to carefully craft this," she said.

"The demographer's report may or may not be helpful, but we get them for a reason because they are experts and we're not," she added. "I have seen committee work early on be very hard when we don't have values laid out. ... I don't want to jump into this without being very thoughtful."

McGee's call came despite the fact that this year's enrollment numbers show growth in Palo Alto's middle schools and a shrinking population in elementary schools.

Total middle school enrollment this year is 2,952 students, 165 more than last year. Chief Budget Officer Cathy Mak said they expect this growth pattern to continue for the next two years, with increases at every grade level, and then tapering off.

Total enrollment in kindergarten through fifth grade this year is down by 131 students, from 5,816 last year to 5,685 this year.

Mak characterized this drop as temporary, attributing it to a large outgoing fifth-grade class of 1,005 students and smaller incoming kindergarten class. A decline in kindergarten, first- and second-grade enrollment is also temporary due to the state's new kindergarten-age law that moved kindergarten's entrance date back, McGee said. The numbers in this report are thus 11-month cohorts, and beginning next year, the kindergarten and future classes will again be 12-month cohorts.

Going back to the 12-month cycle means projected growth in enrollment of anywhere from 74 to 82 students in next year's kindergarten class, Mak said.

A total of 132 K-5 students were overflowed this year, meaning there was insufficient room for them to attend their neighborhood school. With 50 overflowed students from past years who have still not been able to attend their neighborhood school, that means the district's K-5 overflow number is really closer to 200.

Tom cautioned that the next board should not see opening a 13th elementary school as a panacea to the overflow situation.

"Some amount of overflow is due to year-to-year variation in students per grade level per attendance area and has nothing to do with school capacity," he said. "The only way to reduce those overflows is having more classrooms that are smaller than the 23-24 (students) we target or larger than 23-24," with the first option having a financial cost and the second an educational cost.

With significantly higher elementary growth in the district's southern and western clusters – 31 percent and 20 percent over the past 10 years, respectively – and little available space in those areas, Mak said overflow will continue.

Board members also referenced variables in the new-school equation that must be considered, such as the impact of the potential closure of Buena Vista Mobile Home Park on its 101 students enrolled in Palo Alto elementary, middle and high schools; and the unsure future of the school district's portion of Cubberley Community Center.

High school enrollment only jumped by 15 students, but Mak cautioned that there will be substantial growth at Palo Alto's two high schools over the next five years as a large middle school bubble passes through the system.

McGee said he is ready to get started on committee work and would be planning the application process and contacting former committee members between now and the next board meeting on Oct. 7.

Comments

6 people like this
Posted by Leadership
a resident of College Terrace
on Sep 24, 2014 at 9:38 am

Why do we need another committee? We've had three committees and all recommended reopening greendell and or garland. Just do it. As Ken Dauber has pointed out repeatedly, we've studied this to death. We've had plenty of study what we have lacked is action and decision. We don't need more study. There are only 2 options. We are out of time.


1 person likes this
Posted by Paly Parent
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Sep 24, 2014 at 9:48 am

AAAG met for months when I was still an elementary parent and came up with this conclusion, but nothing was done except drawing up plans for a huge school at Garland with kids expected to cross Oregon to get there. This idea was later scrapped.

This is years overdue. But please don't make elementary kids cross Oregon to get to school.


1 person likes this
Posted by Great news
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Sep 24, 2014 at 10:00 am

Finally.


8 people like this
Posted by Mom of 3
a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 24, 2014 at 10:06 am

The issue that speaks most loudly to our family is the issue of the size of the middle schools. Middle school has been a very sensitive time for our children and these huge schools are too much for my children. As Catherine Crystal Foster has been discussing we need a comprehensive strategy that links the elementary location decisions and their effect on middle schools. This is a chance to create a vision not merely to react to a problem.



2 people like this
Posted by m2grs
a resident of another community
on Sep 24, 2014 at 10:23 am

I suspect K-5 enrollment may not be a good indicator for middle school and high school enrollment. Many newcomers have older kids. It takes a lot of funds to buy a house here, hence older parents and kids.

While there is growth in K-5 schools, the projected growth in middle school and high school is likely to exceed the growth in K-5.


3 people like this
Posted by Mr.Recycle
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 24, 2014 at 10:44 am

When there are no longer any temporary buildings on any of the elementary school campuses, then you know you don't need another school. But almost every school is cluttered with these ugly buildings, even Duveneck which just went through a two year expansion.


2 people like this
Posted by Parent
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Sep 24, 2014 at 11:08 am

I'm not quite sure what Dana Tom was trying to say, "It's been very hard for our school sizes to be at a comfortable level, and I think they've been at that level for awhile,". What has been clear for the last decade under the leadership of this board is that our elementary schools are already grossly overcrowded. We have permanent portable classrooms at every school, field space has been greatly reduced and the school populations exceed what's best for social and educational environments.
Based on their history, I have little faith that this same board will stop kicking this can down the road. However, the current school board candidates have largely embraced the current need to open a 13th elementary, largely due to Ken Dauber speaking out clearly about the need.


3 people like this
Posted by m2grs
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 24, 2014 at 11:14 am

I'd agree with Mom of 3 that middle schools, and high schools, have an even bigger problem. Many newcomers have older kids. You'd be extremely lucky 30-year old parents to have a house in PA and enroll your kids in kindergarten. It takes years of accumulated wealth to afford living here.

I think growth in middle schools and high schools is higher than K-5.


2 people like this
Posted by Teacher
a resident of Escondido School
on Sep 24, 2014 at 11:22 am

Our elementary schools have been too crowded for years and years. Our high schools are not yet at the size that they have been planned for in the master facilities plan (2400, while they are each at around 2000). Our middle schools are also not beyond their planned sizes. We are going to have to open a 3rd high school and a 4th middle school at some point (a middle school before the high school), but the real urgency is for a 13th and probably a 14th elementary school.


5 people like this
Posted by Susie Q
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 24, 2014 at 12:21 pm

Back in the late 90's, early 2000's the PAUSD determined the ideal size of a middle school should be between 600-900. It's very troubling that Jordan and JLS are both at 1100. That's not good for kids. Period.


5 people like this
Posted by Jim H
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 24, 2014 at 12:42 pm

PAUSD has done all of this before. It gets to the point where it just seems like they're trying to create work to justify themselves. If they're going to study it again, let's have some action.

The district needs a new middle school and high school, as well. To say that the campuses can handle 2400 students is ridiculous. Go over to Paly in between classes, at brunch or at lunch. There are kids packed on the only grass patch they have left (the Quad), which is about 7000 sq ft. 10 years ago, the enrollment was around 1600-1700. They increased capacity, by building new buildings in the open space areas. They're about to build a new theater (without removing the old one) and a new athletic facility.

Jordan is similarly packed. They increased capacity at the school without increasing space, they merely built more classes.

As Susie Q states (with some added points), the ideal size of schools used to be 1800-2000 for high schools, 600-900 for middle schools and up to 500 for the larger elementary schools and, I think, 350 for the smaller ones. What was the reasoning behind changing the "ideal" sizes? How does the "ideal" change? Changing the sizes was merely convenient for the board. It was too much work to add a school, redraw boundaries and have to deal with the fall out.


2 people like this
Posted by anonymous
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 24, 2014 at 4:54 pm

Neighborhood schools are the best; get rid of special application select programs and focus on allowing childen to attend their nearest schools. Cuts down on extra mom drivers, too.


Like this comment
Posted by palo alto parent
a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 24, 2014 at 5:21 pm

With the closing of Buena Vista, there will be 100 less students in PAUSD. From and earlier article "Of the 129 children, 101 are currently enrolled in Palo Alto schools, which includes 36 in Barron Park Elementary School; 19 in Terman Middle School and 28 in Gunn High School (along with one in Palo Alto High School, one in Alta Vista High School and one in Beacon School). Four others attend college."




3 people like this
Posted by interested observer
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 25, 2014 at 8:47 am

Some clarifying comments: K enrollment IS a good predictor of long term enrollment at all grades as the District staff know how many kids will leave for private middle school (there is a drop there) and how many will return/arrive for high school as a percentage of the population. K is also the 'surprise' each year.

Neither greendell or garland is in the right place to solve the overflow problem at the elementary schools. If you want to solve that you either need to make some really tough boundary choices and choice program moves or open another elementary school on the Stanford campus. Look at the enrollment report - see where kids are overflowed now. Then look at the new construction planned and it will be clear.


5 people like this
Posted by palo alto parent
a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 25, 2014 at 10:01 am

If both Immersion programs moved to Greendell (or Garland for that matter) then there would be room at both Ohlone and Escondido. An easy way to expand our middle school program would be to put 6th grade at Jordan into Garland.


Like this comment
Posted by Johanna Spyri
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Sep 25, 2014 at 10:25 am

I was appalled when Heidi Emberling suggested at the board meeting that we could find 100 spots for elementary school when BV closes. She was having a hard time saying it because she wanted to look like she supported the students but actually what she said was, I hope you are considering the effect on enrollment at Barron Park when Buena Vista closes.

[Portion removed.] She either is so naive she doesn't even understand the issues (a good possibility), she was thinking it so she just blurted it out without realizing the point of what she is saying (also possible) or she just [portion removed] threw the BV kids away.

[Portion removed.]


Like this comment
Posted by Crescent Park Dad
a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 25, 2014 at 10:43 am

re: Duveneck's remaining portable buildings

Those 2 buildings are not classrooms. They are for the after school program (DKC).


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Posted by resident
a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 25, 2014 at 2:29 pm

Seems Melissa Baten Caswell is most logical in the idea that new elementary school needed. Middle School seems to be the problem, followed by High School


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Posted by palo alto parent
a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 25, 2014 at 5:38 pm

@ Johanna Spyri - I don't understand why you are "appalled" that Ms. Emberling reminded the BOE about the closing of Buena Vista. There are 100 students there (although not all elementary students) and a many of them may end up leaving the District. I don't think she is naive, Buena Vista is slated to close and the Board should absolutely take that into consideration when talking about the future of PAUSD enrollment.


1 person likes this
Posted by businessdecision
a resident of Menlo Park
on Sep 25, 2014 at 5:45 pm

So encouraging to read these comments, so wonderful, such great contributions to our collective life.


1 person likes this
Posted by Paly Parent
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Sep 25, 2014 at 5:46 pm

It is definitely time to start growing our schools. Starting with an elementary school is a good way to do it, followed by middle and high schools. A new school is generally grown. In other words, starting at the lowest grade and adding a new grade each year as the students age. We have had some smaller kindergarten classes for the last few years because of the reduction in cut off age for kids entering kindergarten from Dec 1 to Sep 1. This means that grade levels have birthday ranges of 11 months rather than the usual 12 months, but that is a bubble and can't be included in figures.

As for those who think that the closure of Buena Vista will make much difference, 100 students through 13 grade levels will definitely be made up by whatever housing is built to replace the trailer park.

11th day enrollment figures, as far as I am aware, were not published here. Does anyone have a link to these figures for this school year?


3 people like this
Posted by Johanna Spyri
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Sep 25, 2014 at 6:07 pm

It isn't decided whether or not BV will close.

It isn't decided whether or not the children will be able to remain in the district even if it closes.

It is clear that it won't have an impact on enrollment since whatever is built there will almost certainly also have children.

It isn't morally or ethically appropriate or compassionate to start planning for the absence of those students as if they don't exist and as if the decisions have all already been made. It's cruel, actually. These are children who are being ripped from their homes, schools, community and friends. How about waiting for the body to be cold?


Like this comment
Posted by Smart move
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 25, 2014 at 11:52 pm

McGee should study the problem first. Anytime you get a used car, you need to kick the tires. If there are any bodies in the trunk left by the last owner, he's far better off finding them before they stink. Too bad the money was frittered away before he got here, we could have a new car and driver ready to roll....


Like this comment
Posted by Smart move
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 25, 2014 at 11:59 pm

BV is single story. If it isnt saved, whatever goes there will almost certainly have far more choldren.

There is another source of funds. The state has an agency where citizens can go to get unfunded mandates reimbursed. They specifically mention schools. We should be applying to cover those costs because of the extra development to satisfy
ABAG, we met their targets in the last round. Now there's an agency worth our time harrassing just for the fun of it. Either we get our money to cover these costs, or the state gets the idea of the real cost of what is being foisted on us.


4 people like this
Posted by Native
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 26, 2014 at 1:04 pm

To reduce traffic, PAUSD should return to neighborhood schools. Choice schools were started in the 80s when enrollment was down. Jordan even closed from 1985-1991 due to low enrollment and all students attended JLS. We used to have these elementary schools but in the 80s, they were razed and replaced with houses: DeAnza, Crescent Park, Ortega, Ross Road, Mayfield, Lytton.

We should also end the Tinsley program which also was started in the 80s when enrollment was down.


Like this comment
Posted by palo alto parent
a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 26, 2014 at 7:31 pm

@ Johanna Spyri - do you really think that Buena Vista will remain open? The last legal comments I read basically said that its a bummer to kick out all those people, but it is the owners legal right to do so. And BV residents have had many, many years of notice that this would happen. The students can certainly remain in the District if they live here - and personally I think that is where our energies should be spent, helping the BV residents find housing in Palo Alto - but the District can't just keep those students here if they aren't residents. The BOE has a "moral and ethical" responsibility to ALL the PAUSD students, not just those who reside at BV, hence the planning sessions.


1 person likes this
Posted by interested observer
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 27, 2014 at 5:05 am

Native: you're right, but there were more -- 22 elementary schools in all, with enrollments of no more than about 300 but that land is gone and the District will never get it back. A lesson in long term thinking for sure but in those post-prob 13 days the District was over a barrel financially, had loads of real estate that I'm sure it thought it would never use and did what they thought was right. And keep that in mind - most everyone is trying to do what they think is right. There are just lots of different ideas.

I think neighborhood schools would be great. In particular, PA really needs a neighborhood school right where Ohlone is. Other people don't feel that way - mostly people with kids in the choice programs. It's a hard problem -- and no one is right or wrong.

This is a hard problem and a group of people (probably volunteers) are going to be asked to try to solve it. Try to assume good intent with those people and treat them well.


Like this comment
Posted by Juan Hancock
a resident of Juana Briones School
on Sep 27, 2014 at 7:51 am

All the students in Buena Vista can attend Palo Alto schools after they move out, all they need is a signature on a interdistrict form from the associate superintendent, which would be Dr. Charles Young. It is not uncommon, and this seems to be a special case, so go ask him.


3 people like this
Posted by Que Pasa?
a resident of Jordan Middle School
on Sep 27, 2014 at 8:08 am

I seem to remember reading about ground being broken for another elementary school back in 2008 or 2009, but the project being halted because of the Great Recession, and the claims by PAUSD that the district had no money.


1 person likes this
Posted by Paly Parent
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Sep 27, 2014 at 8:22 am

There is definitely a lot of water under the bridge on this subject.

The community was just as bad as PAUSD for selling off the land for the unused school capacity. The schools were closed and merged as enrollments declined and the buildings were left to decline. I believe there was even a death at the site of the old disused Cubberley pool. The buildings were an eyesore and the community was afraid of vandalism. At the same time PAUSD wanted more money and the community said no, not when there was so much value in property. So the bad decisions were made and now we are paying for it.

Yes, there was a lot of work done to open Garland. Stratford were given notice that their lease would be called. Expensive plans were made. The neighbors were up in arms about traffic. Parents were up in arms about elementary kids from Midtown having to cross Oregon to get to school. Yada Yada Yada

Then at the last minute, seemingly, the board or Skelly decided that enrollments although still increasing and more houses being built in South Palo Alto, but that the increases were not as large as they had been for one year, so it was all halted.

More bad decision making. Garland was not the right place for a 13th elementary school as it was too far north to help Fairmeadow and Palo Verde, and too far south to help Hays and Addison.

McGee is right, but I hope he gets people who know the neighborhoods to make the recommendations. It is only those people who have to use Oregon and Embarcadero to get their kids to school in the morning commute who know the traffic difficulties. It is only those in the neighborhoods who know the real routes to school that people use - looking at maps doesn't always tell the real drawbacks.

This is a very difficult decision, but not unsurmountable. Good luck to the committee.


2 people like this
Posted by Parent
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Sep 27, 2014 at 8:27 am

It's great to hear McGee speak out so clearly on this with the board appearing to follow his lead, except for Townsend.
The candidates have also been speaking to the issue. I was glad to see Dauber pushing it throughout his campaign and he made strong arguments with good data support for why we're long overdue for a 13th. The other candidates have embraced the notion that we're overdue, with the exception of Foster who expressed a preference for more study and concerns about whether we can afford it.


Like this comment
Posted by and the bill goes to
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 27, 2014 at 9:15 am

Parent,

"with the exception of Foster who expressed a preference for more study and concerns about whether we can afford it."

She may be right.

All this probably means is a new bond.


1 person likes this
Posted by Garland Mom
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Sep 27, 2014 at 9:25 am

[Post removed.]


Like this comment
Posted by Fact checker
a resident of Escondido School
on Sep 27, 2014 at 3:34 pm

Foster supports opening a 13th elementary school. She also is also making sure the community recognizes the costs involved: loss of rental income from the school site, start-up costs, and ongoing operation costs. That's just common sense.


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Posted by Parent
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Sep 27, 2014 at 3:48 pm

Yes, I heard Foster voice support for a 13th elementary in principle, a position that the current board has taken for nearly a decade. The distinction is that Dauber made the case, supported by data, that we are already long overdue to open it, we have the funds, and that we should move forward promptly. Other than Foster, the other candidates have aligned themselves with this position. Foster called for "more study" as the board and Skelly have done repeatedly. [Portion removed.]


Like this comment
Posted by JLS Mom
a resident of JLS Middle School
on Sep 27, 2014 at 9:14 pm

Parent:
Your facts are not quite right. Foster has said that we need both a 4th middle school and a 13th elementary school, and that we should consider them together, since the decision on the location of one will affect the other, and we need to be sure that a new school is located where enrollment is growing. All three of our middle schools are at capacity. Also, the students from JLS are split between two high schools, which is not ideal for the students. We need a 4th middle school to solve this problem. We don’t have a lot of options for places to put another middle school, and I would hate to see PAUSD miss the chance to do this right because we picked an elementary school site without thinking about how it connects to the middle school. By the way, where does Ken Dauber say that we should open a new elementary school?


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Posted by parent of 2
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Sep 27, 2014 at 9:55 pm


I was at a recent coffee for the candidates and was talking to Foster about the 13th elementary school. Seemed to me she was just as interested in moving forward as Dauber but with a little more vision to include the plan for the 4th middle school. I was impressed how she takes an issue and thinks about all the repercussions of a decision.
[Portion removed.]


1 person likes this
Posted by Native
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 27, 2014 at 10:24 pm

@interested observer: Yes, there were 22 in all, but I was mentioning the elementary schools that have been razed (ie: no turning back). These schools are still standing but not being used as neighborhood elementaries: Garland (leased to Stratford), Van Auken (Ohlone), Greendell (Young Fives),Ventura (Ventura Community Center). Here's the link: Web Link

If they're going to keep Ohlone as a choice program, they should move it to Greendell (next to Cubberley with the big parking lot and too far to be a neighborhood school) and revert Ohlone back to Van Auken neighborhood school since South PA needs another neighborhood school.

Opening Garland would be a disaster for Louis Rd. back-ups if South PA students are attending.

Where to put a 4th middle school? The only option I see is expanding Jordan since part of South PA attends Paly anyway. Then there won't be the JLS to Paly split.


Like this comment
Posted by Los Altos resident
a resident of Los Altos
on Sep 29, 2014 at 8:45 am

Perhaps it is time for redistricting so that Palo Alto residents who are crossing El Camino to go to Los Altos schools can go to their own city's school? This cross city arrangement was made in a time quite different from today, when Los Altos was so small it didn't have enough children for a school. It now makes no sense at all, especially since Los Altos schools are overcrowded.


Like this comment
Posted by Can't trust a flip flopper
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Sep 29, 2014 at 9:03 am

[Post removed.]


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Posted by and the bill goes to
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 29, 2014 at 9:19 am

[Post removed.]


2 people like this
Posted by Paly Parent
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Sep 29, 2014 at 9:22 am

Taking rental income into the equation is not a good idea.

PAUSD is in the public education arena, not the real estate rental business. PAUSD has to accommodate every child in Palo Alto in a school and provide them with an education. The question should really be how far should elementary students be expected to travel to their "neighborhood" school and how big should these "neighborhood" schools become. Should we continue having more and more semi permanent portable classrooms at the expense of playground/field space? Is a "neighborhood" school a school in the "neighborhood" or is it right that the nearest school to a given address is used as a commuter school rather than a "neighborhood" school? If a new family moves next door to an elementary school is it right that they should not find space in that school and instead have to commute across town to find a school with space?

At present PAUSD wastes a great deal of money and perhaps if they were not getting so much rental income, they would start being more financially responsible when it comes to spending money.

All the properties that are available to PAUSD should be used for educating students, not for generating income. The 4 properties available to PAUSD including the one in Los Altos Hills and also Cubberley of course should be on the table when it comes to discussions about reopening schools at all levels.


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Posted by Parent
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Sep 29, 2014 at 8:48 pm

@JLS Mom
I tried to find Foster's position on a 13th elementary. I couldn't find anything on her website or ballot statement that spoke to the subject, issueWeb Link. The first I heard a candidate speak out on it was when Duaber raised the issue at the Weekly's debate,
Web Link. While Foster did acknowledge the need for a 13th elementary, as you stated she advocated that the district wait and study the issue more, "We also have a real (crowding) problem in middle schools. Growth in elementary school was flat last year and the early numbers from this year also show flat. That gives us an opportunity to plan a little before we put the 13th elementary school in place to ensure it's based on real numbers."
Your concern and hers that about soon needing a new middle school seem valid, but not a good basis for postponing a decision on the elementary. While the middle schools are at capacity, the elementary schools are far exceeding capacity and have been so for a decade. Fortunately, McGee has indicated that we should move forward promptly. [Portion removed.]


Like this comment
Posted by JLS Mom
a resident of JLS Middle School
on Sep 30, 2014 at 12:13 am

@Parent
I believe all the candidates support a 13th elementary school. I am all for moving forward on a 13th elementary school as quickly as an intelligent decision can made on where to put it. Out of curiosity, where would you put it? And would you move forward on it immediately or make a decision on the 13th elementary school in conjunction with a decision on a 4th middle school? It strikes me that we risk painting ourselves into a corner, if we open a new elementary school without first figuring out where the kids are going to go to middle school. Doing so could even lock out a site for a 4th middle school. By the way, the committee that considered options for a 13th elementary school was not allowed to look at how it might tie to a decision on a new middle school. So there has been no work done on that issue at all, to the best of my knowledge.

Again, where do you think a new elementary school should go? You noted in your post above that Ken Dauber makes the case, supported by data, that we need a 13th elementary school. Did his data allow him to suggest a specific location? If not, perhaps a little planning might be in order!


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

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