Community committee to advise on new Palo Alto elementary school | October 26, 2012 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

News - October 26, 2012

Community committee to advise on new Palo Alto elementary school

Board sets spring decision date for opening between 2014 and 2017

by Chris Kenrick

A yet-to-be-appointed community advisory committee will examine two possible venues for a 13th elementary school in Palo Alto, Board of Education members said Thursday, Oct. 25.

The board expects to make its final decision on the location and timing of a new elementary school by next April or May.

Possibilities include a phased-in school starting as early as fall 2014, with just a few elementary grades, to the opening of a full-fledged campus in fall 2017, according to the board's discussion in the study session on enrollment and facilities.

The community advisory committee will be appointed following a Nov. 13 meeting at which the board plans to finalize its process for gathering community comment on the new school.

The committee will be asked to examine the tradeoffs between re-opening the Garland campus at 870 N. California Ave. versus the Greendell campus at 4120 Middlefield Road in conjunction with adjoining district property fronting on 525 San Antonio Road.

The committee would not choose a specific site but would present the relative trade-offs to inform a recommendation by Superintendent Kevin Skelly.

Board members also asked Skelly to present by November a timeline for the launching of a fourth middle school. They've already given Skelly the go-ahead to scout for possible new middle-school venues.

"I hear your interest in a middle school, but frankly I believe we can work on that one with a little bit less urgency than this (elementary school decision)," Skelly told board members Thursday, adding he would present information about a middle school timeline in November.

Ann Dunkin, the district's chief technology officer, presented charts on how accurately past demographic projections matched actual enrollment growth.

Under moderate projections that have proven reliable, Dunkin said, recent new construction means the district will have "plenty" of elementary space until 2018-19.

"In 2020 we cross the line, with more students than space we will have with currently built and planned elementary classroom space," Dunkin said.

Current plans call for the community advisory committee to have about 10 members and to be co-chaired by Dunkin and Kathleen Meagher, the district's director of elementary education and former principal of Duveneck Elementary School.

Board members asked that Dunkin hold an open application process for committee membership.

Staff Writer Chris Kenrick can be emailed at


Posted by Former AAAG Member, a resident of Palo Verde School
on Oct 26, 2012 at 9:42 am

I was on the AAAG several years ago. This group spent a lot of time discussing boundaries at all schools and all levels. We ended up burnt out and had very few recommendations. Part of the trouble was that trying to sort out each school level within the same group was too difficult, and another part was because we had so many people involved to get all different affected groups involved.

I am pleased that there will be a group doing this at just the elementary level. It means that there will not be people who know very little or have little interest in the elementary decision involved.

I wish them all the best, I have a pretty good idea what it wall involve. Good luck.

Posted by Ducatigirl, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Oct 26, 2012 at 12:28 pm

I don't know how anyone could do this job! There are so many groups to please: new immigrants, learning disabled, gifted, Asians, Latinos, Blacks, new money, old money, etc. Someone is bound to feel disaffected or left out.

Posted by Former AAAG Member, a resident of Palo Verde School
on Oct 26, 2012 at 2:54 pm


Not sure exactly about all the groups who you think want input. The groups we had represented included, parents from each school site, teachers, teachers union, after school care, school board (previous school board member), various other similar groups as well as the demographers. The average meeting had 30 people plus the occasional interested member of the public who wanted to find out what was going on. When the local press leaked a few of the suggestions made about an idea to change an existing boundary, loads of parents from that area came with banners saying why they didn't want to change school.

Posted by Mike, a resident of Professorville
on Oct 27, 2012 at 1:44 pm

Why the need to decide so quickly and open new facilities by 2014 - 2017 if there's not a need for extra space until 2020? Surely the demographic projections (and therefore the decision) will be much better in a year or two or three.