Palo Alto's independent Bowman International School has purchased a 0.6-acre property just up the road, with plans to expand its current programming and house a STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics) lab.
Bowman Head of School Mary Beth Ricks confirmed the $3.75 million purchase of 693 Arastradero Road Thursday. She said the nonprofit Montessori school, which currently serves about 225 kindergarten through eighth-grade students, has long wanted to expand its "junior" program to include ages 3 to 6 instead of just 5- and 6-year-olds.
Bowman's expansion comes despite some rumblings in early 2013 that the Palo Alto school district was interested in purchasing the site the independent school currently occupies at 4000 Terman Drive. Bowman's 1.67-acre property is adjacent to Terman Middle School, and the potential purchase could have helped accommodate enrollment growth at Palo Alto's public middle schools.
Jenny Beeler, a member on the Bowman Board of Trustees and site-search chairwoman, said then-Palo Alto Superintendent Kevin Skelly reached out to school leadership at the same time internal talks of expansion had begun. She said they spent a few years looking "up and down the Peninsula" for suitable places to relocate, but were unsuccessful.
Palo Alto Unified never made an official offer for the Bowman site, Beeler said.
"We have not actually had discussions with them for quite some time. We've been just continuing on our own search," she said. "This opportunity provided a really excellent solution for our need to be able to have a little bit more space for our current program, be able to maintain our central Palo Alto location and (cause) as little disruption to families as possible while we continue to meet our vision and space needs."
Beeler said the new property means enhanced and expanded programs, not a larger student population.
"We've always maintained under 300 students and we plan to continue with that size of population and into the future," she said.
The school has no specific timeline on construction or projected opening; it will depend on going through the city's various processes, Ricks said.
Bowman will be hosting an informational meeting on its expansion plans on Thursday, Nov. 13, at 7 p.m., hoping to involve its neighbors as early as possible in the process, Ricks said.