News

Palo Verde students head to temporary campus as school year starts

Relocation to Cubberley site enables elementary campus to undergo swifter reconstruction

To prepare for the start of kindergarten, Aniyah Ross practiced walking with her son Josiah Copes to Palo Verde Elementary School's campus on Louis Road in south Palo Alto this summer. Then, she learned that the entire student body would be attending school at a temporary site next to Cubberley Community Center this fall while construction on the Palo Verde campus takes place.

Palo Verde Elementary School's office and fourth and fifth grade classrooms are temporarily housed in portables that sit in the parking lot in front of Greendell School, which is adjacent to Cubberley Community Center in Palo Alto on Aug. 11, 2022. Photo by Magali Gauthier.

Palo Verde's roughly 400 students are sharing a campus for the school year with Greendell School as well as using portable buildings that were placed in the parking lot in front of Greendell this summer. Greendell hosts the Palo Alto Unified School District's parent education program, special education preschool and kindergarten readiness programs.

On Thursday, the first day of elementary school for Palo Alto Unified, a balloon arch and multicolored "Welcome Back to School" banner greeted families as they walked onto the temporary campus. Teachers and staff were on hand to direct parents and kids to the right classrooms, as they tried to navigate the combined campus.

As Ross dropped Josiah off for his first day of kindergarten, she said that she was excited for her son to start school but that it was strange to be on a different campus.

"It's fine; we're going to make it work," Ross said. "I'm sure they worked hard to make it doable."

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While Thursday was the first day of the new academic year for elementary schoolers, for middle and high school students, the year began the previous day.

Palo Verde Principal Annora Lee said in an interview that numerous staff members worked together to prepare all the moving pieces involved in relocating Palo Verde to the Middlefield Road campus. Lee said she's been joking that the move was 10 times more complicated than planning her wedding.

"My biggest commitment, my mission, was making sure wherever we were, it felt 100% Palo Verde," Lee said. "I think we've achieved that."

Families drop off their students at the temporary Palo Verde Elementary School site on the Greendell School campus, which is adjacent to Cubberley Community Center, on the first day of school in Palo Alto on Aug. 11, 2022. Photo by Magali Gauthier.

According to Lee, she also coordinated with Greendell's principal to make sure Palo Verde was respecting their space and that the planning was conducted jointly.

The finished layout has transitional kindergarten through third grade students attending classes in Greendell buildings while fourth and fifth graders, plus the Palo Verde office, are located in the portable buildings.

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Some Palo Verde families spoke out last fall in opposition to the idea of moving their school to a temporary campus roughly 1.5 miles away from their usual location. Parents said that the district hadn't adequately sought feedback from the Palo Verde community and particularly objected to the idea of placing classrooms in the parking lot.

'My biggest commitment, my mission, was making sure wherever we were, it felt 100% Palo Verde.'

-Annora Lee, principal, Palo Verde Elementary School

Nonetheless, the board unanimously approved moving ahead with the temporary campus last November. By vacating Palo Verde's campus, construction would take one school year rather than two and a half, district staff said. When the construction is finished, Palo Verde will have a new fourth and fifth grade wing as well as a new multipurpose room, Lee said.

The temporary campus will serve not just Palo Verde. Hoover Elementary School is expected to move to the Greendell site for the 2023-2024 and 2024-2025 school years, while its campus is under construction.

To help Palo Verde students get to the temporary campus, the school district is offering morning and afternoon buses. According to Lee, there is a small waitlist for the morning buses, but there was enough space for everyone who signed up to take the afternoon buses. On Thursday morning, staff members were also in the parking lot to direct traffic as parents drove their children to school.

Parents Valeriya and Yessen Toleubek were both pleasantly surprised by the setup of the temporary campus when they dropped their second grader off for the first day of school.

"They did an amazing job," Valeriya Toleubek said. "We love it."

Yessen Toleubek said that parents naturally had concerns but that the result exceeded his expectations.

"It looks organized. Everything flows kind of organically; it doesn't feel like it's a construction site," he said.

For Lee, seeing students and families arriving on campus on Thursday was the reward for many months of preparation.

"It felt so good to me," Lee said. "As educators, once you see the kids, that instantly grounds you."

Valeriya Toleubek walks her son, second grade student Amir, to the temporary Palo Verde Elementary School site on the Greendell School campus, which is adjacent to Cubberley Community Center, on the first day of school in Palo Alto on Aug. 11, 2022. Photo by Magali Gauthier.

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Zoe Morgan
 
Zoe Morgan covers education, youth and families for the Mountain View Voice and Palo Alto Weekly / PaloAltoOnline.com, with a focus on using data to tell compelling stories. A Mountain View native, she has previous experience as an education reporter in both California and Oregon. Read more >>

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Palo Verde students head to temporary campus as school year starts

Relocation to Cubberley site enables elementary campus to undergo swifter reconstruction

by / Palo Alto Weekly

Uploaded: Thu, Aug 11, 2022, 3:16 pm

To prepare for the start of kindergarten, Aniyah Ross practiced walking with her son Josiah Copes to Palo Verde Elementary School's campus on Louis Road in south Palo Alto this summer. Then, she learned that the entire student body would be attending school at a temporary site next to Cubberley Community Center this fall while construction on the Palo Verde campus takes place.

Palo Verde's roughly 400 students are sharing a campus for the school year with Greendell School as well as using portable buildings that were placed in the parking lot in front of Greendell this summer. Greendell hosts the Palo Alto Unified School District's parent education program, special education preschool and kindergarten readiness programs.

On Thursday, the first day of elementary school for Palo Alto Unified, a balloon arch and multicolored "Welcome Back to School" banner greeted families as they walked onto the temporary campus. Teachers and staff were on hand to direct parents and kids to the right classrooms, as they tried to navigate the combined campus.

As Ross dropped Josiah off for his first day of kindergarten, she said that she was excited for her son to start school but that it was strange to be on a different campus.

"It's fine; we're going to make it work," Ross said. "I'm sure they worked hard to make it doable."

While Thursday was the first day of the new academic year for elementary schoolers, for middle and high school students, the year began the previous day.

Palo Verde Principal Annora Lee said in an interview that numerous staff members worked together to prepare all the moving pieces involved in relocating Palo Verde to the Middlefield Road campus. Lee said she's been joking that the move was 10 times more complicated than planning her wedding.

"My biggest commitment, my mission, was making sure wherever we were, it felt 100% Palo Verde," Lee said. "I think we've achieved that."

According to Lee, she also coordinated with Greendell's principal to make sure Palo Verde was respecting their space and that the planning was conducted jointly.

The finished layout has transitional kindergarten through third grade students attending classes in Greendell buildings while fourth and fifth graders, plus the Palo Verde office, are located in the portable buildings.

Some Palo Verde families spoke out last fall in opposition to the idea of moving their school to a temporary campus roughly 1.5 miles away from their usual location. Parents said that the district hadn't adequately sought feedback from the Palo Verde community and particularly objected to the idea of placing classrooms in the parking lot.

Nonetheless, the board unanimously approved moving ahead with the temporary campus last November. By vacating Palo Verde's campus, construction would take one school year rather than two and a half, district staff said. When the construction is finished, Palo Verde will have a new fourth and fifth grade wing as well as a new multipurpose room, Lee said.

The temporary campus will serve not just Palo Verde. Hoover Elementary School is expected to move to the Greendell site for the 2023-2024 and 2024-2025 school years, while its campus is under construction.

To help Palo Verde students get to the temporary campus, the school district is offering morning and afternoon buses. According to Lee, there is a small waitlist for the morning buses, but there was enough space for everyone who signed up to take the afternoon buses. On Thursday morning, staff members were also in the parking lot to direct traffic as parents drove their children to school.

Parents Valeriya and Yessen Toleubek were both pleasantly surprised by the setup of the temporary campus when they dropped their second grader off for the first day of school.

"They did an amazing job," Valeriya Toleubek said. "We love it."

Yessen Toleubek said that parents naturally had concerns but that the result exceeded his expectations.

"It looks organized. Everything flows kind of organically; it doesn't feel like it's a construction site," he said.

For Lee, seeing students and families arriving on campus on Thursday was the reward for many months of preparation.

"It felt so good to me," Lee said. "As educators, once you see the kids, that instantly grounds you."

Comments

PA Community Advocate
Registered user
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 11, 2022 at 8:14 pm
PA Community Advocate, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
Registered user
on Aug 11, 2022 at 8:14 pm

One of the saddest things at school today was seeing parents unmasked (scientifically valid) with their kids masked (zero quality scientific evidence on benefit). Completely inexplicable. Let’s follow the science?


Consider Your Options.
Registered user
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 12, 2022 at 11:38 am
Consider Your Options. , Another Palo Alto neighborhood
Registered user
on Aug 12, 2022 at 11:38 am

Portables surrounded by wire fencing, on a parking lot. Homey campus. Can we please see photos of that area that the older kids are in? What's the 4th and 5th grade experience like? Please ask at the end of next week.


Parent of Two
Registered user
Palo Verde
on Aug 12, 2022 at 1:07 pm
Parent of Two, Palo Verde
Registered user
on Aug 12, 2022 at 1:07 pm

Most PV parents know that the buses are due to one parent - Shana Segal - who suggested, pushed hard for and won them from the district for the kids. Shana Segal is now running for School Board. She was rightfully concerned about very young children being asked to walk or bike an extended distance to school. Palo Verde students can live as far north as Oregon Expressway.

I wonder how many additional daily car trips to Cubberley will be reduced due to the buses secured by Shana's efforts.


D. Smith
Registered user
Barron Park
on Aug 12, 2022 at 1:38 pm
D. Smith, Barron Park
Registered user
on Aug 12, 2022 at 1:38 pm

Is it cost effective to move an entire school in order to rush the construction process? They didn't do that with some of the other schools in our district. Why Palo Verde? I sincerely hope that they don't do that to the children who go to the two schools in my neighborhood.
It's inconceivable to me that the staff actually made this happen for our children in such a short period of time. It's nothing short of miraculous and we need to give these amazing people our full support!!
I happened to be that parking lot yesterday and saw what I'm assuming was the 4th and 5th grade portables. These are still little children... Where do they "play?"
For the 5th graders, this is their last year at Palo Verde. What memories will they take away from this move?


Engaged PA parent
Registered user
Palo Verde
on Aug 12, 2022 at 7:41 pm
Engaged PA parent, Palo Verde
Registered user
on Aug 12, 2022 at 7:41 pm

This looks like PR stunt being pushed by the school administration. Go to drop-off or pickup and ask parents how they truly feel about things. The Principal has a reputation for [portion removed] not being at all proactive in identifying/addressing any of their key needs. [Portion removed.] She is, however, excellent at giving high-level grandiose ‘word salad’ answers to questions that make it look like she is hard at work and moving heaven and earth for ‘the kids’.

[Portion removed.]

If you’re the superintendent and reading this, you might want to pay greater attention to how the school is truly run before this becomes a bigger problem for the district down the line.


Holiday gift boxes
Registered user
Palo Verde
on Sep 2, 2022 at 11:02 am
Holiday gift boxes, Palo Verde
Registered user
on Sep 2, 2022 at 11:02 am

We are very concerned about the safety of the new campus - the playground is chopped up in a way the teachers can't see all of the children at recess and require more adult supervision to be safe. Kids are getting injured. The fences around the upper campus aren't high all the way around and don't have safe exits in the event of an emergency. There is only one bathroom at recess. We keep being told "it's better than having construction on your old campus". Yes, but that is a low bar. We need a safe campus.


Bystander
Registered user
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 2, 2022 at 2:14 pm
Bystander, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
Registered user
on Sep 2, 2022 at 2:14 pm

The one bathroom for how many students should be a concern. Is this one bathroom for all, or one for staff, boys, girls, visitors to campus, etc.? How many actual toilets to be used by how many people?

By 5th grade some girls are already menstruating.

If there is not enough monitoring of the playgrounds, how can there be any monitoring of the one bathroom?


Page Mill
Registered user
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 2, 2022 at 5:19 pm
Page Mill, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
Registered user
on Sep 2, 2022 at 5:19 pm

@Holiday Gift Boxes - Cubberley was designed as a high school campus, but is being used for younger students, an inherent safety risk. It is on very busy roads The fences do not provide adequate safety for younger children. Cubberley now houses Special Education classrooms for secondary students with Autism and post high school students. Cubberley is not a small separate campus. It is unsafe, accessible from multiple sides and lacking protections to keep students from running out. It's not a quieter less chaotic campus. It houses many other schools: a preschool/Pre-K/Transitional K, Adult Education, new Autism classrooms, and now entire school campuses while home campuses are renovated.

Job announcements show Teachers run learning centers with multiple ability levels in a classroom. Teachers are more like center managers than teachers, writing educational plans and checking in with aides who teach. The district hired a large number of aides. Is this for Cubberley? It may save money, but it is not the way to teach disabled students.

Since Cubberley is not a high school, this violates district policy that disabled students attend regular campuses, not separate. The district will/may bus students to regular campuses for activities and classes, but it's questionable. More likely it will only transport for activities and times Special Education chooses.

This is the reason legal fees rose. Along with changing mental health from contractor to employees, Special Education claims it increased services so completely it now replaces all specialized services and schools: those for students who are a danger to themselves and others, County schools, therapeutic schools, hospital schools, residential schools.

Special Education's budget rose each of the last 3 years without public notification of where the money would go. It made dramatic changes to district policies with no public meetings or Board of Education approval.


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