News

Castilleja School proposes enrollment-growth plan

Palo Alto school promises benchmarks, 'rigorous oversight' to neighbors

Just over two years since the City of Palo Alto penalized Castilleja School for exceeding its enrollment cap, the school is proposing a new expansion plan, with promises to wary neighbors that the school will keep traffic and parking at the levels they are at now.

School officials presented the plan Wednesday night to a group of about 30 neighbors and community members, some of whom have been deeply involved in a yearslong, often contentious conversation about how to best address the impact of the school's growth on the surrounding residential neighborhood.

Castilleja is proposing to gradually increase enrollment to 540 students over a four-year span, adding 25 students each year. The private, all-girls middle and high school currently enrolls 438 students. It is struggling to meet a growing demand, however, with an acceptance rate Head of School Nanci Kauffman said she doesn't like to brag about: The school is now accepting only one in 10 girls who apply for a spot in the freshman class.

"This is a moment where I make a promise to you," Kauffman told the crowd gathered at the Bryant Street campus, "that promise being that any future growth that we would propose for approval by the city, we would propose it happening over time; we would propose that there would not be an increase in the impacts that you have become accustomed to and that we would be held accountable for in some very direct ways."

This accountability would come in the form of annual audits conducted by an outside firm, bi-annual traffic and parking count conducted twice a year by an independent firm, limits on the number of special events the school hosts and reports that document the impact of those events, Kauffman said.

If the city grants Castilleja the conditional-use permit (CUP) school officials plan to apply for, the city would also monitor the agreement and would likely have in place penalties if certain thresholds are exceeded.

Accountability and monitoring are crucial for Castilleja's neighbors, some of whom are still smarting from the school's 12-year-long violation of a previous conditional-use permit. The city required the private school to submit plans for a new CUP after finding in October 2013 that Castilleja had exceeded its city-imposed enrollment cap for 12 consecutive years. The city ordered the school to reduce the number of students it admits, pay a $300,000 fine and cut back on the car traffic it generates.

One longtime neighbor, Vic Befera, who has lived in the neighborhood since 1968, put his views succinctly: "Five hundred and forty students over my dead body."

"I don't feel we should be awarding any increase in enrollment for bad behavior," another man said. " I don't trust the school can absorb all of the traffic and parking onto the site. I don't trust this proposal. I don't feel this is going to be validated by the city."

Months before the city's notice of findings in 2013, the school had sought the city's blessing to gradually increase enrollment from 445 students to 515. Criticism from neighbors and a letter from city planners lead to the school backing off from that plan.

Neighbors did acknowledge Wednesday night the efforts Castilleja has made in recent years to mitigate the traffic and parking impact on its neighboring streets, which one man described as going from "horrible" to "bad."

Over the last three years, Castilleja has built a robust transportation demand management (TDM) program: a new bus route that brings students to the school, a daily shuttle service to and from the downtown Caltrain station, remote employee parking within walking distance of the school, event parking on a school field and a requirement that all employees participate in the TDM program in some way.

These efforts are paying off, staff said Wednesday night. Peak morning trips have dropped from about 1.18 trips per student in the spring of 2012 to 0.85 in the fall of 2015, according to Robert Eckols, a senior associate at Fehr & Peers, a transportation and engineering firm working with the school. (The school is proposing to maintain that decline alongside the proposed enrollment increase, with a goal of 0.80 trips per student in year four of the expansion plan.)

In 2012, the majority of students (48 percent) were dropped off at school by themselves, 26 percent were dropped off as part of a carpool and only 10 percent walked or biked to school, according to Eckols. In the fall of 2015, single-student drop-offs fell to 41 percent; carpool drop-offs to 14 percent; 10 percent of students were walking to school, 11 percent were biking and 14 percent were taking advantage of the school's new shuttle service.

Kauffman described a shift in culture at the school where awareness, excitement and participation in the transportation-management efforts are high.

Others, though, said the current level of traffic congestion is still unacceptable.

"The idea that the traffic level now is acceptable is not going to fly with the neighbors," said neighbor Bruce McLeod.

To keep traffic and parking down as enrollment increases, the school is planning to add two additional bus routes, an afternoon shuttle service to accommodate after-school activities, another shuttle service to and from a remote parking location, an expanded parking program, a reduction in the number of food-service deliveries and a new underground parking garage that would give the school 66 off-street parking spaces. Eckols said it and a second firm working with the school, Nelson Nygaard Consulting Associates, is confident Castilleja can both increase enrollment and meet the transportation-management needs.

All of this would be done with "very stringent sets of benchmarks" and "pretty rigorous oversight," Kauffman said.

"We think accountability is essential to actually having this work and we don't think we should grow if we don't meet the metrics," echoed Ken Hirsch, chair of the school's board of trustees.

Others in attendance Wednesday probed school officials on other details of the plan — how they will measure and mitigate the impact of events, if a potential parking garage would really offset the current parking demand, how the school plans to physically accommodate an increase in students, if the school has considered what it will do if the city's Residential Preferential Parking program expands to the area.

Neighbor McLeod, one of the members of a smaller working group that has been meeting with school officials and a professional facilitator for many months, stressed the importance of the neighbors, school and city to continuing to collaborate — genuinely — as they move forward. He said he hopes the working group "continues to be an important part of the process rather than an afterthought."

Hirsch said he sees the working group as "the starting point where trust will be built."

Castilleja has put its new CUP application on hold while it conducts a study with the City of Palo Alto on the impact that Embarcadero Road can absorb from several different scenarios, from creating a "slow-down" lane into the school to providing access from Embarcadero onto Bryant and Emerson streets with immediate access on to campus on each block. Fehr & Peers was hired to conduct the analysis, and is aiming to present its findings to the city in March, Hirsch said.

Tom Shannon, who has lived across from the school on Kellogg Avenue since 1989 and is a member of the smaller working group, seemed cautiously optimistic about the school's promise to increase its transportation-management efforts in what he called "TDM 2.0."

"The proof is in the pudding of their promises," he told the Weekly after the meeting.

Comments

35 people like this
Posted by Neilson Buchanan
a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 11, 2016 at 12:13 pm

Castilleja School has its issues and it is inspiring to see that solutions are being hammered out at grass root level. IMO, the school is setting a gold standard for parking and traffic accountability: Solid professional metrics to serially measure and monitor impacts.

To my knowledge no developer or planning department official has ever presented this high level of sustained accountability. Whether Palo Altans like this school expansion or not, we must praise Castillaja and neighborhood leaders for their common sense and sense of community.


40 people like this
Posted by Midtown Citizen
a resident of Midtown
on Feb 11, 2016 at 3:46 pm

Midtown Citizen is a registered user.

A couple of comments. To call the street parking situation around Castilleja "horrible" or even "bad" is to ignore the street parking situation throughout the entire city. I live in Midtown and if one of our neighbors has a party, we often have to park around the corner; I'm guessing residents of Downtown have even more to say about street parking. Also, I find Mr. Befera's opinion to be a little hypocritical, given the school had been at that location almost 60 years before he moved in.


51 people like this
Posted by Local resident
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Feb 11, 2016 at 5:21 pm

Regarding the point made by Midtown Citizen -- have to point out that while Castilleja has been at its location for many years, it was as a very small boarding school. When Mr. Befera - and many of other the immediate neighbors - moved in, this lovely school was a quiet, unobtrusive member of the community. The issue is that the school now has a more dense population than any other school in the area, with no provisions for parking on campus, and no drop-off areas. The local streets are snarled with double-parked cars, delivery vehicles, etc. and there are no limits on evening and weekend events, which are pretty much non-stop. No one in this area can imagine how another 100+ kids can safely be dropped off and picked up every day, without adding to the havoc.


67 people like this
Posted by Neighbor of Castilleja
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Feb 11, 2016 at 6:47 pm

To the comment made by Midtown Citizen,
I agree with you that traffic and parking throughout Palo Alto have severely gotten worse. As a resident of the Palo Alto community for the last 15 years (downtown North and Old Palo Alto), and prior in SF/Berkeley, our city has become far more urban and losing the fabric of what attracted Palo Alto to so many of us.

I suspect that your neighbors aren't having parties daily, causing the traffic and parking issues in your neighborhood.

Many of us agree that the school should exist and appreciate its contribution to the community. 75% of the students don't even live in Palo Alto and are further stressing our bottlenecked areas on El Camino/Embarcadero and surrounding the school with car trips and parking.

There is no reason that we have to continue tolerating the traffic and parking issues that plague our community, especially in the residential zoned neighborhood surrounding the school. I'm no longer pro-development in Palo Alto and do not wish to see any increase in enrollment which would exacerbate the existing issue that plague the neighbors surrounding Castilleja.

If the school wishes to increase enrollment, they should consider what Pinewood and Keys School have done, split their campus or acquire a larger site to house their larger enrollment.


42 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Feb 11, 2016 at 6:55 pm

All of the schools -- public and private -- should be required to provide school bus service as a way of alleviating the ever-worsening parking and traffic situation.


71 people like this
Posted by Jim H
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 11, 2016 at 8:31 pm

Castilleja says their goal is .8 trips per student, down from .85 trips per student currently. However with an increase in students from 438 to 540, that's an increase of 60 trips per day.

I suggest that the school need to keep their enrollment at the CUP level for as many years as they were in violation (12 yrs), before they are allowed to even apply for an increase.


65 people like this
Posted by Palo Alto resident
a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 11, 2016 at 8:43 pm

Agreeing with comment by Jim H.

Castilleja should not be rewarded with any increase of student enrollment after 12 years of bad behavior. The principles that Castilleja stood for many generations are no longer how the school is acting today.


51 people like this
Posted by live near Casti
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Feb 11, 2016 at 9:44 pm

Castilleja Prep School administration want to add 125 additional students. This increase, if approved, would effect everyone in Palo Alto.


57 people like this
Posted by Next to Castilleja
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Feb 11, 2016 at 10:54 pm

My family and I have been living directly across from Castilleja for almost 20 years. We are very concern with the proposal to increase enrollment. The manual counting of the peek hours traffic into the driveway of Castilleja on Kellogg Street does not truly reflect the traffic impact to the neighborhood and to Palo Alto City as a whole. The current commuting traffic into and out of PA has significantly impacted the quality of life for Palo Alto residents. As part of the community, we should focus on traffic reduction as our primary priority. Castilleja should be working through the City of Palo Alto to conduct a more comprehensive traffic study of how the current enrollment impacts the surrounding neighborhood and the city by comparing traffic on the surrounding 2 to 3 blocks radius(bigger area if required) traffic on the days with and without Castilleja in session. This study should be automated and including all hours of the day over the period of a few months. In addition, Castilleja has numerous events during evenings and weekends. The delta of these traffic impacts should also be measured. The PA City along with Castilleja should present the results of the study to the neighborhood with quantifiable data to show the delta of the increased traffic for a residential neighborhood. Then Castilleja should work closely with neighborhood to define a plan to lower the impact to an acceptable level. Any proposal by Castilleja to increase the enrollment at this point could be viewed as a disregard to the quality of life of the neighbors and Palo Alto residents.


57 people like this
Posted by Why should cast be bigger?
a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 11, 2016 at 11:12 pm

I don't see any upside for our city to expand the size of Casti. Most of the students are not from Palo Alto and it's not like our schools are horrible and we need alternatives that are simply more of the same "college at all costs". Accepting only 10% of their applicants is a reflection on the quality If Bay Area high schools and should not be a reason for expanding a school that is already way over its approved limit.


68 people like this
Posted by Paly Pal
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Feb 11, 2016 at 11:35 pm

Castilleja is undeserving of any praise. Their leaders lied for 12 consecutive years both to the city and their neighbors, knowingly violating the express terms of the conditional use permit. The efforts they only recently have undertaken since the lie was exposed are efforts that the CUP required 12 years ago. The notion that Castilleja can add 125 additional students without dramatically impacting the neighborhood, and diminishing the quality of life of their neighbors, is frankly preposterous. Mr. Befera is absolutely right, good for him for standing up.


60 people like this
Posted by Second Campus + Parking Permits
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Feb 12, 2016 at 8:25 am

They should just open a second campus somewhere because they will never satisfy the demand for their precious school. They shouldn't rewarded for their bad behavior, when she says at the levels you've become accustomed to. The neighborhood needs to apply for the residential parking permit program asap.


66 people like this
Posted by Old Palo Alto resident
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Feb 12, 2016 at 8:31 am

Doesn't the school seem to be putting the cart before the horse?

First, they assume the current situation is acceptable. I think the neighbors' comments suggest this is not the case.

Secondly, it is my understanding that the proper approach is for the city to define the traffic study and pick the consultant but have the applicant pay for it. Otherwise, there is no way to make sure you are comparing apples to apples.

Thirdly, should they not be required to reduce the trips and show they can maintain that before allowing any increase? This is particularly important in this case because of the history of the school's administration and trustees ignoring the existing CUP until they were caught cheating from the day the current CUP was granted.

In 2000, when the city allowed the school to increase enrollment from 385 to 415 (after refusing to grant the school's request for 425), the planning department said that the city would not welcome any increase beyond that level. Obviously, the school ignored this and began violating that requirement from day 1. In addition, overall traffic conditions in Palo Alto have gotten much worse in the 15+ years since then and it would seem that the planning department's conclusion in 2000 that the 6.5 acre site in the middle of an R1 neighborhood could not support more than 415 students is even more appropriate today than it was then.


43 people like this
Posted by Shut it down
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Feb 12, 2016 at 8:47 am

[Post removed.]


6 people like this
Posted by anonymous
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 12, 2016 at 8:51 am

I have generally supported Castilleja. However, I encourage readers to READ this article, don't just post before reading the link.
Now, I am in agreement with Mr. Befera. This is because I happen to be familiar with a private high school (elsewhere) of the size quoted as what Casti wants to upsize to in four years. That WILL have an impact. To pretend otherwise is ridiculous! This is a major private school and some regulation from the city is in order.
Someone posted about traffic in general in PA - need to control or reduce it - while I don't want to highjack the thread some comment is needed: I am not sure that is realistic as many of us must travel in single occupancy cars.How much control do you want to hand over to "government?" I oppose additional lane-reduction, speed humps, Lexus lanes, and taxpayer subsidies to ordinary people like city workers who should find their own way, like the rest of us, to commute and get places.
The very worst is VTA scheming to put a bus-only lane on El Camino Real (including Palo Alto). Costly and will degrade Palo Altans' ability to freely move around this city.


67 people like this
Posted by Huh?
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Feb 12, 2016 at 9:00 am

So Castilleja has been in Old Palo Alto for 60 years? There are many, many houses in Old Palo Alto that were in that particular neighborhood 70-130 years ago--well before Castilleja.

If they were going to build a school in a quiet residential neighborhood, and planned for a lot of growth, they should have known they would be upsetting the residents. Most especially when students began to be driven from distant locations.

I say, move it, close it, or lessen enrollment.


50 people like this
Posted by Paly Pal
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Feb 12, 2016 at 9:01 am

No one is talking about "closing the school" or "restoring Palo Alto to its former glory." We are talking about maintaining the status quo. Castilleja is permitted to have 415 students, which is the number the city deemed appropriate for a 6 acre site in a residential neighborhood. Castilleja wants to add 125 additional students for a total of 540. That is shocking. Especially in view of Castilleja's history of deception. There is no way that such a large increase would not have a severe impact on the neighborhood. And there are no compelling reasons why a private school's interest in expansion should outweigh the interests of surrounding residents. It is completely appropriate for residents to be upset and to oppose Castilleja's overreach.


55 people like this
Posted by Long time PA resident
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Feb 12, 2016 at 9:08 am

Castilleja is a wonderful school but it no longer belongs in the neighborhood. I agree that it should move to a location that has enough room to accommodate all its needs, including parking and transportation issues. This is a residential area and Castilleja is no longer a sleepy boarding school. Also the fact that it increased its enrollment without proper authority in the past makes it hard to trust its future plans.


37 people like this
Posted by Shut it down
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Feb 12, 2016 at 9:08 am

[Post removed.]


Like this comment
Posted by No replies to trolls
a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 12, 2016 at 9:59 am

[Post removed.]


59 people like this
Posted by Zoya
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Feb 12, 2016 at 10:13 am

With timed parking coming to our neighborhoods, Casti will feel the burn. All the spaces next to their business will have no time limit, so all the workers, guests, visitors, etc. will park next to the school rather than private homes with 2 hour parking limit.


3 people like this
Posted by facts + a small thought
a resident of Stanford
on Feb 12, 2016 at 3:08 pm

Castilleja was established in 1907, not in the 1960s as one of the posters seems to think. Here are the links for history:

Web Link

Web Link

Separately,

Perhaps as part of the increased enrollment option there could be a stipulation that a certain number of girls are accepted from Palo Alto.

Woodside Priory has a priority enrollment system for kids who live in Portola Valley.





11 people like this
Posted by Palo Alto resident
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Feb 12, 2016 at 3:13 pm

I support Castilleja's efforts to offer a high quality all-girls education for more students. They have been incredibly diligent and responsive to neighborhood concerns, and traffic has been carefully and effectively managed over the last several years.

In comparison, I'd rather see the city's attention focused on addressing the parking problem in neighborhoods close to California Ave. They seem to have bent over backwards for residents close to Castilleja, who don't have to deal with half as much nonsense (traffic, parking, solicitors, speeding, trash) as Evergreen Park residents do because of their proximity to California Ave.


53 people like this
Posted by Church Neighbor
a resident of Professorville
on Feb 12, 2016 at 4:05 pm

Castilleja is renting the parking lot at the Presbyterian Church located at the corner of Lincoln and Cowper Streets. The parking lot entrance is on the Lincoln side of the church property. I think it might be illegal for the church to rent out their lot. Someone should check into that.


19 people like this
Posted by Bike Boulevard
a resident of Midtown
on Feb 12, 2016 at 5:02 pm

These residents are enjoying huge gains in housing prices which are directly tied to the presence of world-class schools in Palo Alto. I am grateful to live here and I don't begrudge the success of Casti, Paly, Stanford, Facebook, Google or any other world-class outfit that enriches our area.


60 people like this
Posted by Stop trolling
a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 12, 2016 at 5:28 pm

[Portion removed.] Castilleja is a private school with a tiny fraction of Palo Alto girls - no benefit to our property values, no benefit to our town, just added traffic and parking,


49 people like this
Posted by PA
a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 12, 2016 at 5:32 pm

Castilleja is a private school with a tiny fraction of Palo Alto girls - no benefit to our property values, no benefit to our town, just added traffic and parking,


17 people like this
Posted by Bike Commuter
a resident of Ventura
on Feb 13, 2016 at 11:22 am

I'm sure Casti can continue to improve their traffic impacts by requiring students to arrive by carpool, bus, train or bike.

CA's new electric bike law allows e-bikes in bike lanes/paths, and only the fastest models (28 MPH max) have a minimum age of 16. Electric bike riders can commute 15 miles in under an hour.

50% of Paly and Gunn students bike to school, saving 1,600 car trips 2x per day!


53 people like this
Posted by PA
a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 13, 2016 at 1:30 pm

Castilleja is a private school, so a great majority of their student body (over 70%) are from other towns. Great suggestions and analysis in the above post by BIKE, but many of the girls live in the mountains (Portola Valley, Woodside) and far away. It would be excellent if the school gave priority to Palo Alto girls, but that is not where the mega rich live who's parents are more than willing and ready to give big $$$ to Casti. We get the pollution, traffic, parking overload and no benefit.


43 people like this
Posted by All about us
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Feb 13, 2016 at 1:57 pm

Since the school is educating not- residents and may Have an impact n parking and traffic, they should be forced to move to another city. It is all about Palo Alto residents after all.


15 people like this
Posted by Stop Trolling
a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 13, 2016 at 2:25 pm

[Post removed.]


53 people like this
Posted by School Bus?
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 13, 2016 at 3:59 pm

Since Castilleja has a majority of out-of-town students, why don't they reach into their very deep pockets and buy a school bus, or hire a bus service, to pick up and transport student?

That way, the overwhelming majority of Casti students can be brought to school in one single load and be dropped off in the bu circle on Kellogg, which is off the street? That would greatly reduce the number of cars on Kellogg, Emerson, and Bryant.

If that's too much of a stretch, they can increase tuition a little. What's another thousand or two per year if you can afford the $45,000 tuition already? They may be able to convince parents to chip in and buy them a used bus or two, then hire a driver to work a split shift


5 people like this
Posted by All about us
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Feb 13, 2016 at 8:20 pm

[Post removed.]


47 people like this
Posted by m2grs
a resident of Midtown
on Feb 13, 2016 at 9:30 pm

Castilleja no longer belongs to where it is. When it was established I bet no many students commuted from San Jose or Cupertino to attend the school. Traffic in general was not a big issue either. Now traffic is so horrible. 25% more enrollment would be very detrimental to the neighborhood.

Castilleja should move. If Castilleja owns that land how about it trades the site with Stanford? The land is very valuable. Stanford can build a small research center, or a village for professors, at the site. In return Stanford can carve out a good location for Castilleja, and maybe even subsidize some of the cost to build a modern school.

It'd be a win-win-win for Castilleja, Stanford and Palo Alto.


40 people like this
Posted by common sense
a resident of Midtown
on Feb 14, 2016 at 7:54 am

Castilleja is a business just like any other business in Palo Alto, where the vast majority of it's traffic comes from out of town. So the above posters who suggest that because most of the traffic comes from out of town, that Castilleja move, should suggest that many of the other businesses move as well: Planitar, HP, VM Ware, etc.

When PAUSD expands enrollment at a public school site, those school sites do not provide any traffic mitigation. For example, when Ohlone expanded to incorporate the Mandarin Immersion program, there was no traffic mitigation (but the neighborhood where Ohlone is located is less politically connected than Old Palo Alto).

Castilleja borders on Embarcadero, and saying that adding more students causes more traffic is correct, but when compared to what's already on Embarcadero, it's not going to be significant.


Like this comment
Posted by PA
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Feb 14, 2016 at 8:45 am

[Post removed due to same poster using multiple names]


2 people like this
Posted by All about us
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Feb 14, 2016 at 9:01 am

[Post removed.]


Like this comment
Posted by PA
a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 14, 2016 at 10:07 am

[Post removed due to same poster using multiple names]


47 people like this
Posted by Neal
a resident of Community Center
on Feb 14, 2016 at 10:08 am

The only reason Castilleja wants more students is to make more money. If the demand for enrollment is so high why not just raise tuition? I'm sure there are plenty of parents that are not price sensitive.


19 people like this
Posted by facts + a small thought
a resident of Stanford
on Feb 14, 2016 at 12:40 pm

@ Nea

I know it feels like these schools are wealthy, and certainly some of the families who attend are very wealthy (but that's true of lots of Palo Alto kids whose families have chosen public), however, running a school correclty is not a money making venture. This is why so many for profit colleges are in legal trouble for deceiving students. there are many reasons for increasing the size, and while money is always a factor, it is not the only reason. Consider the following:

1. Larger enrollment allows for an increase in course offering options. A small school simply cannot offer the number of electives that a slightly large school can offer. Casti is at a disadvantage compared to Sacred Heart and Menlo in this regard.

2. I assume, perhaps incorrectly, that Casti wants to increase the class sizes beginning in the 9th grade - the same way Sacred Heart, Menlo and Crystal Springs do. This infusion of kids at the 9th grade level is generally considered positive for social and intellectual reasons.


3. It is incorrect to think that tuition dollars makes a school more wealthy, in fact, It is incorrect to think that tuition covers the cost of a private school education. It does not. There's a general formula that there is a gap between tuition and cost per child (usually somewhere around $4k in this area). It's standard operating procedure for independent schools to use the Annual Fund Campaign to fund approximately 10% of the annual operating budget. On top of that, schools with very large endowments (mostly east coast and more than one hundred years old) can use interest from the endowment to further defray tuition costs. I have no idea what Casti's endowment is, but I doubt they can cover more than 5% of the annual budget from endowment interest annually.

4. Raising the tuition beyond what other schools in the area creates a barrier to admitting a diverse class. There are often families on the cusp of being able to afford private tuition and even one dollar more will put them out of range. Often people are too proud to ask for tuition assistance. There is ample social science evidence to back this up. Raising tuition is not something that is done lightly. It's a very serious matter and has serious consequences for many families. It's always easy to say only the wealthy kids attend private k-12, but that simply isn't true, just as it isn't true that only wealthy kids attend Stanford. There is a range.

5. Casti, along with all the private schools in this area are committed to providing scholarships, and that costs money. My children attend a different private school and the scholarship assistance is close to $4 million a year and is spread across a large number of families.

6. Every aspect of running a school is skyrocketing in this area - from figuring out how to make it affordable to teachers - to increased property taxes, increased costs for drought management, etc.

7. Applications at all private schools are skyrockeing and it's heartbreaking to turn down so many qualified kids. Public schools are under stress and not everyone can afford to live in excellent school districts. I think it would be wonderful if Casti is able to offer an education to more girls - no doubt many would be on scholarship.




53 people like this
Posted by John B.
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Feb 14, 2016 at 12:42 pm

Grow -- elsewhere.


26 people like this
Posted by Be Positive
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Feb 14, 2016 at 1:35 pm

Be Positive is a registered user.

@ facts + a small thought - all your points are valid, but none of them are a reason to expand Casti from a community standpoint. It is an excellent school and I'm sure that more students would allow them to expand their class options, but there is NO benefit to our community for this expansion. I would be interested to see how many of their students are from school districts that are not excellent. Los Altos, Menlo Park, Atherton, Woodside, Portola Valley, etc. all have access to great schools.

If they want a larger school, perhaps they should have a separate location for either their middle or high school, just like Nueva and Sacred Heart. Or concentrate on high school.


52 people like this
Posted by Ruined the neighborhood
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Feb 14, 2016 at 2:09 pm

Grow........elsewhere. The traffic is horrible near Casti. The original permit which went along with expansion of the facility was capped at 415 students. If the want to grow, then split the campus 6-8 and 9-12. Castilleja used to be a quiet boarding school with girls boarding and little traffic and no major events. Now is seems like an Uber Elite and OVER THE TOP girls school, more likely to be located in Manhattan or some pricey town in Connecticut.Can we just SAY NO!


9 people like this
Posted by Idea
a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 14, 2016 at 8:16 pm

That location is close to CalTrain and shuttle services and would be ideal for something like this:
Web Link


47 people like this
Posted by Zoya
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Feb 14, 2016 at 8:58 pm

Only a tiny fraction of Palo Alto girls go to Castilleja. School gets millions of dollars in tuition fees, while our quality of life decreases.


51 people like this
Posted by Jim H.
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 15, 2016 at 8:19 am

Many people always use the "Castilleja was there before you bought your house" argument. I'm wondering if anyone knows how many students attended Castilleja when it first opened at the Bryant location?

Castilleja was in violation of their use permit for 12 years. For some reason they didn't feel the need to follow the rules, or have any respect for their neighbors. It was only when they were caught, and wanted to expand more, that they thought about lessening the impact on the neighborhood. Are these the type of neighbors you really want?

If they want to grow, and there's not room, they can grow at a site more conducive to a larger school.


37 people like this
Posted by Be Positive
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Feb 15, 2016 at 10:42 am

Be Positive is a registered user.

I think the Castilleja was a boarding school until about 15 or 16 years ago, so there weren't really traffic issues until they expanded and became a day school. Traffic would have been limited to staff and teachers.


19 people like this
Posted by Commentator
a resident of Professorville
on Feb 15, 2016 at 3:03 pm

[Post removed.]


33 people like this
Posted by Leland Manor
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Feb 15, 2016 at 3:23 pm

I am completely against any increases in enrollment. The intersection of Embarcadero and El Camino is already a nightmare. Traffic regularly already backs up along Embarcadero.
If the school wants to expand it can move or set up a satellite campus. 100 more cars every morning and afternoon is unacceptable.It will be a real hazard for students biking to Paly. Homeowners and businesses are restricted by size for development, parking spaces etc. Casti can get smaller or move. We don't need it and frankly won't miss it. Look into how much property tax they pay. It is almost nothing. They are a Palo Alto polluter not contributor.


25 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 15, 2016 at 4:01 pm

I'm not sure about any of this but if they want to do something smart they should invest in a fleet of buses and shuttle students in from a parking lot in the Baylands, just like other businesses in town.

If they do decide to move they have to keep the present facility as a satellite or something. I don't think any of us would like them to sell the facility for the simple reason that I dread to think what would be built there to replace it. Whatever the traffic problems are now in the area, I imagine that any replacement building will produce much more traffic, parking problems and all the types of problems we are having with new developments all over town.


20 people like this
Posted by Paly Pal
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Feb 15, 2016 at 7:59 pm

It takes immense chutzpah for Castilleja to seek an increase of 125 additional students. That is a 30% increase over the current enrollment limit. If Castilleja truly were interested in finding common ground with the surrounding residents, it would have proposed a number more palatable to those residents, instead of trying to jam a 30% increase down their throats. I hope the city council is paying attention -- this will be a firestorm.


3 people like this
Posted by Churchill neighbor
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Feb 22, 2016 at 12:51 am

To add to this discussion and in case you do not subscribe to NextDoor.com, I copy/pasted a posting by Nancy Kauffman. [Portion removed.] Castilleja's is an all girl private school, most of the students there are not from Palo Alto (over 70%). The school administration is proposing to add additional 125 students above the current student limit of 415. Please write to our city council and a city manager if you don't want even more traffic and pollution in our town.

NextDoor: Nanci Kauffman. Old Palo Alto

For those of you who don't already know me from the neighborhood, I am Nanci Kauffman, an Old Palo Alto resident for 19 years, and Castillej's Head of School for the last 6 years. Thank you again to the handful of neighbors who participated in last week's meeting on enrollment. Castilleja currently enrolls 438 students, and our plan is to seek approval for gradually increasing enrollment by 25 students a year for four years, culminating in 540 students. This would ultimately be an increase of about 23% above our existing enrollment.

Our enrollment increase would be paired with an expansion of our existing traffic management plan to offset the potential impact of additional students. The plan, which includes increased use of alternate modes of transportation such as shuttles, carpools, walking, biking, Caltrain, etc., has already reduced the average trips to campus by over 25% since implementation in 2012-2013, as measured twice a year by an outside traffic and parking analyst. The extension of our existing plan will ensure that the neighborhood will not experience an increase in vehicle trips over recent levels. For more information please review our fact sheet on this issue, which can be viewed at our neighborhood portal at www.castilleja.org/neighborhood


1 person likes this
Posted by Casti Neighbor
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Feb 1, 2017 at 9:49 am

Castilleja is taking a Trump-like stance and justifying anything in the name of their vision. The neighbors do not want this. Palo Alto will not want this. It will be another referendum, since City Hall is not so pro-growth and so anti-resident. It's all who you know. And Castilleja has hired a former Planning Commissioner to help railroad this through City Hall. Disgusting what they are teaching their students.


1 person likes this
Posted by Sounds terrible
a resident of another community
on Feb 1, 2017 at 1:41 pm

Man, what's GOOD in Palo Alto? Anything?


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