Castilleja backs off on enrollment-growth plan | August 16, 2013 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

News - August 16, 2013

Castilleja backs off on enrollment-growth plan

School says it will launch traffic measures to prove it's a 'good neighbor'

by Chris Kenrick

Criticism from neighbors and a letter from city planners about over-enrollment at Castilleja School has led the Palo Alto school to back off from immediate plans to boost its enrollment even further.

In a statement Wednesday, the private middle and high school for girls said it would institute a morning shuttle service for students from Woodside, Portola Valley and Los Altos as well as other measures to ease congestion on the residential blocks of Bryant Street, Kellogg Avenue and Emerson Street surrounding the school.

Castilleja officials said they hope the new measures will quell criticism that the current enrollment of 448 exceeds the enrollment cap of 415, imposed by the city in 2000.

Head of School Nanci Kauffman disclosed the excess enrollment in a July 18 meeting with neighbors, in which she unveiled plans to seek city permission to grow enrollment even further, to 515. The school has backed off on that plan, saying it wants to be a "good neighbor" and assure the city that it can manage its current enrollment of 448.

"We owe our neighbors an apology," Kauffman said Thursday.

"We were wrong to assume we could attempt to correct our non-compliance and also increase our enrollment, without first effectively managing the existing parking and traffic conditions that our neighbors deal with on a daily basis.

"But I hope the community won't lose sight of the fact that we informed the neighbors we were out of compliance because we wanted to make a correction."

About 10 neighbors attended the July 18 meeting, in which Kauffman said the school had informed the city of the excess enrollment but still wanted to increase its student population further, to 515, and institute new traffic-control measures.

Neighbors at the meeting said traffic already is intolerable and they could not imagine dealing with higher enrollment.

Kauffman said the need to boost enrollment was driven by high demand for spots at the $36,800-a-year school, where about 20 percent of students receive tuition assistance. She called it "truly sad" that the school must turn away many highly qualified applicants.

In addition, new revenue is needed to meet the cost of offering a top-notch program which, in today's world, includes computer science, Mandarin, digital fabrication and a strong arts component, she said.

But for now, the school announcement stated: "We have no plans to seek approval of a new conditional use permit for any further increase in the enrollment limit over the projected 448 girls at this time."

Staff Writer Chris Kenrick can be emailed at


Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 16, 2013 at 9:11 am

My neighborhood school has increased in size over the past few years and caused lots of extra traffic, parking, noise, bikes, pedestrians, too. Perhaps the neighbors around here should complain about the way the school has increased enrollment and caused so many problems in the neighborhood too.

Posted by hulkamania, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 16, 2013 at 9:33 am

Castilleja may have reached the point where, like the Palo Alto Military Academy that was in the Rinconada neighborhood, it's time to find a larger property so they can expand their footprint, class offerings and student body size.

Posted by anonymous, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 16, 2013 at 9:39 am

A victim of their own success? The demand for Castilleja appears to be quite strong, they must be doing something right in Education.

Posted by Maybell, a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 16, 2013 at 10:31 am

Interesting how neighbors in the North end can complain about traffic on their streets and PA supports them. Why not spend a morning on Maybell and imagine 12 more big family houses and 60 more units that need transportation because there are no stores close enough to walk to. Equity?

Posted by neighbor, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 16, 2013 at 10:35 am

What the reporter failed to point out was that at last night's meeting the school admitted to having been in violation of its Use Permit for a decade. This is not something new.

This coming year's enrollment is actually down from last year, making one question the truthfulness of Nanci Kauffman's statement about too many kids accepting offers of enrollment. The data the school presented showed the only year the school has been in compliance was 2001-2002, the first full school year in which the 415 limit applied.

There is no question the school is providing a great service, but one wonders what type of example their behavior is to students in terms of honesty and integrity when they have mislead the neighboring community for so long.

Posted by Irv, a resident of Fairmeadow
on Aug 16, 2013 at 10:35 am

[Post removed.]

Posted by Lilly, a resident of Professorville
on Aug 16, 2013 at 10:55 am

It is unacceptable that Casti has been in violation of their Use Permit and has no penalty to pay for past years of violation. Who is in charge of keeping an eye on Use Permit Compliance? Shame on Casti for feeling like the rules don't apply to them. As someone who sent my daughter there for three years, I am shocked and upset at their sense of entitlement. Lead by example Casti- this is not o'k. Shame on our City representatives that are not doing their job. Casti is located in a Single Family Residence Zone and they need to be respectful of that. If Casti wants growth, please find a new location- if not, comply with the Use Permit and cut your enrollment. What is the plan for getting back in compliance?

Posted by parent, a resident of Community Center
on Aug 16, 2013 at 11:04 am

Even though it is a wonderful school they also need to be objective and say "no" at times. This is what other schools do. Certain classes are cut or not as many scholarships are issued or tuition needs to be increased for the folks that attend. Especially if the parents want theses special classes for the Castilleja students. It is a private school they need to watch or increase their budget but not by adding more students. The neighbors don't need to be victimized by their properties being blocked in the morning and afternoon. I can take an extra 20 to 30 minutes to get to work or take kids to school because of the traffic.

Posted by Mom, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Aug 16, 2013 at 11:10 am

Congratulations, neighbors! I am happy to hear of your success. How are they going to enforce people to use the shuttles? Will there be a separate shuttle in each city so the drive time is the same as a car? Why don't they start the shuttles now?

Posted by Danielle, a resident of another community
on Aug 16, 2013 at 11:10 am

Come on, Lily .... everyone has a sense of entitlement in Palo Alto! Why should "Casti", as you affectionately call them, be any different? I'm so glad I moved away from Palo Alto and found a "real" community to live in. Palo Alto folks .... get a life! Castilleja .... if you want to grow your program, MOVE!

Posted by Mom, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Aug 16, 2013 at 11:14 am

In addition, the new revenue they lose from turning away more students can easily be recovered from the multi, multi-millionaire parents who are swimming in cash.

Posted by Mom, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Aug 16, 2013 at 11:19 am

Danielle, then why are you back reading Palo Alto online I you are happier in another community? Time to move on.

I don't think my description of "multi, multi-millionaire parents who are swimming in cash" is accurate enough. Many of the parents so their girls to Casti are outrageously loaded with income. I'm not crying for Casti - cash is within reach for them - they just need to promise a plaque or classroom name.

Posted by palo alto parent, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Aug 16, 2013 at 11:58 am

Castilleja is a great school, but if they can't get by on the $36K they charge per student, they can dip into their multi-million dollar endowment.

Posted by Marmuz, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 16, 2013 at 12:04 pm

Truthfully, many of us would like to see Casti move. They need a larger facility with actual parking in a lot, not on a neighborhood street. Last fall and the fall before that, they were actually, on a weekend, parking cars for a Stanford game on Kellogg, Bryant, and Emerson Streets!!! I wonder if this was a money-making ploy!?

Let's send them packing to a newer, bigger digs!

Posted by Sally V, a resident of Meadow Park
on Aug 16, 2013 at 12:11 pm

Castilleja is a wonderful school and they have been around for over 100 years! So, for all you neighbors, you chose to live next to a school and you need to learn to deal with it!

If you have been in your home for over 100 years, then maybe you have a right to complain but if you don't like the traffic, move!

Posted by Marmuz, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 16, 2013 at 12:18 pm

Have you not seen the "for sale" signs in the neighborhood for the last year?? And how long it takes for the houses in the Castilleja neighborhood to sell?

Keep in mind, when most of us moved here, Casti was a boarding school, and traffic was hardly an issue. traffic has increased steadily since 1999.

Posted by Frustrated on Kellogg, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 16, 2013 at 12:31 pm

23 years ago, I purchased my house one block from Castilleja. They were boarding students at that time, enrollment was managable and traffic was not an issue. THAT is what I bought into. When ANY institution outgrows the guidelines to which they were established, it's time to either move on to accomodate growth OR adhere to said guidelines. I am also a Palo Alto native and realize that our city has changed dramatically - do I accept the increase in traffic and changes in the culture of the city - absolutely. Do I feel that Castilleja took advantage and misinformed the neighbors - absolutely.
Between Paly kids flying down Kellogg to get to Alma to turn left and the Castilleja parents flying down Kellogg to get their kids to school - the morning traffic is not only bad - it is dangerous. Add to that, an ineffective stop at Emerson and Kellogg and it's a bad thing waiting to happen.

Posted by Honor Spiitz, a resident of another community
on Aug 16, 2013 at 2:00 pm

This seems to be a time that calls for mutual respect. Castilleja is now making an effort to address the issue of traffic control. It is promising to take steps to improve that situation. Bravo!! Give them a chance to prove themselves. Hurling insults gets people nowhere; too often, it proves to be counter-productive.

Posted by Member Name, a resident of Stanford
on Aug 16, 2013 at 2:58 pm

I work at Stanford and am disheartened to watch this crisis unfold across the street in PA. The recent series of events has been a school leadership public relations "debacle" from the beginning. It is disappointing to witness as the school has for so long has had such a great and upstanding reputation in the greater PA community. It looks as if the school's headmistress and leadership, was either disingenuous from the onset or simply dishonest.

Castilleja holds a "neighborhood" meeting to inform those present (10 neighbors, with zero current parents according to a close friend whose daughter attends the school and had no idea this was in the works!) that the school will be seeking a new permit from PA seeking an additional 70 students.

{This is an untruth - apparently, the existing permit was for 415, not 440! They therefore were seeking 100 new students (~25% increase), not 70!}

The headmistress stated in the original meeting: "the school misjudged the acceptance rate last spring so they would be over the limit in the coming fall".

{This is an untruth - apparently, the school has been "misjudging' the acceptance rate for over a decade!}

Castilleja holds another "neighborhood" meeting this week, and after creating a community-wide firestorm, is now back-peddling stating it is "sorry" and that it will withdraw its original intention to submit a new permit for 510 students (for now?) and will attempt to further mitigate traffic. It also states, however, that it has no plans nor intention to honor the original decade-old permit of 415 students.

{Can you say "bait and switch"?}

Lastly, the headmistress states that "it is truly sad" that the school has to reject such a high number of qualified applicants.

{Ms. Kauffman, please take a look across El Camino at our Stanford University's current "acceptance rate" of 7%. Stanford turns away 93% of applicants, including many that are more than qualified to be students here. Does Stanford, the Ivy League, Menlo School, or any other institution of higher learning react by quietly ("covertly" would be more appropriate) attempting to cram an additional 25% more students onto their respective campuses? Are they transparent in their plans to all members of their respective communities when they undergo long term forward planning preparation before entering the "china shop"? Yes, they do. You clearly did not.}

Castilleja School is no different. It has been around for 100 years because the school offers a highly competitive all-girls educational program and unique campus environment to a highly select group of very fortunate girls. We know that to be true because so many of their students matriculate to Stanford upon graduation. The school should be around for another 100 years if current leadership starts being honest and forthright with surrounding PA neighbors and community about their intentions and begin to live within their means once again. MN

Posted by Bad call, Mr. Turner, a resident of South of Midtown
on Aug 16, 2013 at 3:05 pm

I don't live anywhere near Castilleja, but I am appalled at Steven Turner's response. A Conditional Use Permit is negotiated with an understanding of how much traffic the area will bear among many other things. It is often the outcome of an AGREEMENT between the city and surrounding neighbors, and the school or its developer about how a site will be used. Its purpose is to control impacts on infrastructure and neighbors.

It should be enforced. I hope our City Council is paying close attention to this. We have many private schools in town. Most of them have CUPs which control all sorts of things like enrollment, how their circulation must work in order to minimize congestion, parking. Many of these schools are already built to the max that their area can handle. The CUP is an agreement that provides protection for the neighborhood.

Mr. Turner, you are sending a poor message to all of these other private schools that it is okay to disregard the CUP and hope that the neighbors won't complain. City Council, ARE YOU paying attention? This is unacceptable. I urge you to immediately inform Mr. Turner that you will a revised CUP is not an option.

This is JUST like what staff did at Cubberley. No enforcement of existing rules led to creeping increase of problems until we had a crisis. Learn from your mistakes. It is easier to tow the line and enforce the rules than clean up the mess when you have a crisis. If you let a private school do this once, they will do it again and again.

Castilleja made a mistake (they say). They enrolled too many. Now they are testing the city. The other private schools are watching how the city will handle this. Citizens are watching how Council will handle this. Mr. Turner, do your job and make them take responsibility for their mistake, apologize to their own school community for their error, and fix it. Don't make the neighborhood pay the price for their so-called mistake. I believe the city is being tested, and Mr. Turner's response reflects weakness and unwillingness to enforce the CUP agreement.

There is NOTHING arbitrary about a CUP. These agreements are carefully negotiated. We should be able to TRUST that they will be properly enforced by the city. This is a matter of public trust.

Posted by Mr. Smith, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 16, 2013 at 3:07 pm

Castilleja is in business of educating effluent girls whose families can afford to pay $38K a year and also contribute to an already sizeable endowment of tens of millions of dollars. These families are paying customers and like any other business, you need to keep your customers happy. The school can not reprimand their customers. Web Link

Posted by reply to Mr. Bad, a resident of College Terrace
on Aug 16, 2013 at 3:17 pm

Mr. Bad,

Thank you for your suggestion. Many of our City Council members have or had daughters attend Castilleja, just look at the published graduation lists; many of the last names will be familiar.

Posted by upsize, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 16, 2013 at 7:10 pm

It is simply time for Castilleja to move to larger quarters with adequate parking. Period. They outgrew the current location years ago. They are far too big now to Coe sit in a residential neighborhood, as they did 20 years ago.

Posted by The-Simple-Truth, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 16, 2013 at 7:42 pm

> It is simply time for Castilleja to move to larger quarters
> with adequate parking.

Agree. While moving may be difficult, or even traumatic, for Castilleja--if it wants to get bigger, it's going to have to move.

Posted by HSR, a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 16, 2013 at 7:54 pm

I will repeat my previous comment: I don't see how a little extra school traffic compares with the looming prospect of High Speed Rail coming crashing through this neighborhood in just a few years.

School traffic is manageable, especially if the school starts up a shuttle service, like the one at Menlo School. Also, they could stagger schedules by adding more after-school programs that end at different times to ease the afternoon traffic. They could also cut back on the number of all-school parent events per year where all the parents flood the neigborhood looking for parking spaces.

Look around ALL of Palo Alto and tell me it is the same place it was 20-30 years ago. Traffic has increased everywhere! If Castilleja moved out, then the lot could turn into high density housing (like a big lot did in my old neighborhood). Not only did the neighborhood get busy, but we had to endure five years of construction dust and noise too as the old buildings were demolished and each new "phase" of housing was developed.

Posted by Upsize, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 16, 2013 at 8:34 pm

It is obvious that Castilleja wants to get bigger and wealthier, and their students' parents want it, too. So please, Casti, give up the residential neighborhood and find a bigger, better-zoned place!

Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 16, 2013 at 8:41 pm

I will say once again, I wish we could all complain that our local school has increased in size and destroyed the peace that used to exist before it doubled in numbers.

However, to the neighbors who want Castilleja to move, a warning. If Castilleja does move and the site is sold to a developer, you may get a huge condo/senior/bmr/ugly rickeys hyatt type replacement with all the traffic and other problems that might bring.

Do you really want a Rickeys type development instead?

Posted by Former Palo Altan, a resident of another community
on Aug 16, 2013 at 9:14 pm

Reading all of these comments, it sounds to me as if the community is overrun with cranky old people who have nothing better to do than sit around and complain about first-world problems. Stop whining.

Posted by BOB, a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Aug 16, 2013 at 10:00 pm

Castilleja is not a public school, it is a business that provides its services for almost $40K a year. This enterprise needs to change their administrators with somebody honest and accountable.

Posted by Joelle Barsness, a resident of Meadow Park
on Aug 16, 2013 at 10:31 pm

Castilleja needs to follow the rules and decrease its enrollment to 415!!! I know for a fact that girls get in off the wait list most years. Given that is the case, then how can Ms. Kauffman claim they are overenrolled? They knowingly admit more students than their permit allows. And why not? At $38.2k per student, why not over enroll? And if demand is so high and the girls/families want all those extras that public school students do not get, then charge $50k per year. 90% of the families could afford that amount. This is a school for Silicon Valley elite. Nothing more. Nothing less.

Posted by BG, a resident of St. Claire Gardens
on Aug 17, 2013 at 9:35 am

Simple......the city charges a $50K/year fine per student over the permit = ~$1.65M.

There is not excuse....and if the city doesn't do this we need to fire the city manager.

Posted by Trudy, a resident of another community
on Aug 17, 2013 at 12:12 pm

Did the Castilleja Trustee Board vote to approve increasing the student body to 515? Are the current parents supportive of this huge increase?

I have known a few parents who had their kids attend the school, and I can't imagine parents paying that king's ransom tuition would vote for bigger class size? This is shocking. Castilleja has been a great school forever and it looks like the model is working well. I met the former head a long time ago and she was very impressive as are many of the girls coming out of there. Why mess with what's worked forever? Can't believe the Board or parents really wanted this fiasco.

Posted by Pa_mom, a resident of College Terrace
on Aug 17, 2013 at 1:52 pm

Their over enrollment is a testament to the lack of great middle school for kids in Palo Alto. If you don't agree, read the front page article.

Posted by Mom of a middle schooler, a resident of Community Center
on Aug 17, 2013 at 2:57 pm

Dear Pa_mom, we have OK middle school options in Palo Alto. Still, this is no excuse for a private school that is zoned as two residential houses to break the law, cover up, not take any accountability for their actions, and disregard the residential neighborhood that allowed this private institution to exist in a residential community and function as a school. This is not a local public school who's mission is to educated local kids. Castilleja has girls from all the neighboring towns (only a little over 20% are from PA) that pay about $40K in tuition. As I gather from all the postings and articles, Castilleja has $40+ million dollar endowment, its head administrator make three times the salary of any PA principal, their 6.5 acre property in Old Palo Alto is worth about seventy million, yet they only pay about forty thousand property tax to the city of Palo Alto. Yes, our middle schools are weak and Castilleja is there to collect your $40K and offer all the bells and whistles, which is fine, they just don't have to lie and cheat in the process.

Posted by Michael, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 17, 2013 at 3:39 pm

Either rename the school residential block Pinocchioland and start accessing the school massive fines until they comply, or kick out the management team and restore some honesty, character and integrity by putting the Castilleja girls themselves in charge. My hunch is that they'd know how to do the right thing.

Posted by HSR, a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 17, 2013 at 4:09 pm

What a hullabaloo over 33 kids! I have to agree with "Former Palo Altan" above. The comments read like a lot of whiney NIMBY chatter with a dash of "nothing-better-to-do" and .. even jealousy! I don't see why cars cannot park along PUBLIC streets anywhere in Palo Alto, including the streets around this school. Rather elitist to put up signs and complain.

Posted by hulkamania, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 17, 2013 at 4:50 pm

Posted by Mr. Smith, a resident of the Old Palo Alto

"Castilleja is in business of educating effluent girls..."


Effluent is defined by the United States Environmental Protection Agency as “wastewater - treated or untreated - that flows out of a treatment plant, sewer, or industrial outfall. Generally refers to wastes discharged into surface waters”

Posted by CP, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 17, 2013 at 5:22 pm

I am a CP and here are the facts best I can tell:

School Head has known about over-capacity violations for at least 3 years and did nothing about it.

School Head heading into her 4th year, lets her admissions office admit a huge class, pushing over-capacity to all time high -448, and total student population 33 student over the 415 permit. To make matters worse, I believe the total faculty and staff seems to have gotten larger every year too, adding to the neighborhood traffic woes.

School Head goes into public forum in PA and infers by her statements that the problem is a short term issue, calling over-capacity a "mistake" - didn't expect such a high acceptance in the fall, fully-knowing at the time that this would be her 4th year in extreme violation.

School Head also at same public forum in PA, asks City for a new permit allowing for 515 students, calling this an increase of 70 students. In return, the school will now offer in consolation shuttle buses as new traffic mitigation measures. As a CP, this was all news to me, as well as obviously to the neighbors.

School Head, at recent neighborhood meeting, now being called to come clean on all of the above, says they will now retract the 515 number with City, while holding at 448 and attempting to be "hero" helping neighbors with traffic issues heading into 4th year. They are still in violation and publicly state they have no plan to be compliant with the original permit. No harm, no foul. Right?

Wrong. I for one am disgusted. Castilleja School's mission is all about high moral values, ethics, and high integrity. It is why we pay the freight to send our daughter to school there because we know this is an important building block in her life-long journey, not just adolescent academic ritual. If you don't have that at the top of the school's hierarchy, you are in big trouble. Five strikes you're out.

Posted by palo alto native, a resident of Downtown North
on Aug 17, 2013 at 6:28 pm

Dear Pa_mom,
"Their over enrollment is a testament to the lack of great middle school for kids in Palo Alto. If you don't agree, read the front page article." What??????

Posted by bg, a resident of St. Claire Gardens
on Aug 19, 2013 at 7:03 pm

There is a real economic impact to all PA citizens. Make Castilleja pay for it.

Time to move out the City Manager. We need someone with a clue about public economics, and a backbone to do the right thing.

Posted by Blame PAUSD, a resident of Gunn High School
on Aug 20, 2013 at 9:11 am

Do not blame Castilleja, blame PAUSD for not being as excellent as they claim to be, and for the OCR scandals which has resulted in people fleeing Palo alto schools and going for private schools. This is a good message our our district administrators. I hope they can read between the lines.

Posted by Crescent Park Dad, a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 20, 2013 at 12:18 pm

Blame PAUSD for Casti purposely going over their mandated enrollment limit? Now that's a nice chuckle over coffee. I can see it now --- scene inside the dean's office...

We're over our enrollment cap chief!

Oh, no what are we going to do?

I know, let's blame PAUSD because we don't know how to count!

Posted by Local parent, a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Aug 20, 2013 at 10:01 pm

Compared to pick up at Ohlone or Walter Hayes, Castilleja drop off//pick up is a breeze. Seriously! Castilleja has a paid traffic guy and the entire process takes minutes. Compare this to Ohlone where cars are lined up down the street - total chaos. If you live in Palo Alto and you aren't bothered by school traffic, you are lucky. But residents near public schools have no say....
It's only twice a day for 20 minutes or so. Lighten up.

Posted by PA fam, a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 20, 2013 at 10:03 pm

Living in Palo Alto is now like living in L.A...get used to it.

Posted by Neighbor, a resident of Southgate
on Aug 20, 2013 at 10:52 pm

To: Local Parent of Leland Manor/Garland Drive, Ohlone and Walter Hayes are public schools and are here to educate our local kids, Castilleja is a private school that charges $38,000 a year tuition. A great majority of Castilleja students commute from other towns. Castilleja contributes very little to the city of Palo Alto $40K prop tax. Why should we deal with all the traffic, noise, parking issues, etc. to educate girls who primarily live in Atherton, Woodside, Portola Valley and Los Altos Hills? Castilleja, just like every house around it, is zoned as a residential home. This property can operate as a private school as long as they adhere to very specific conditional use permit rules set forth by the nearby residents and the city of PA. Web Link

Posted by New to Palo Alto, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 21, 2013 at 6:43 pm

Palo Alto residents have strange priorities. Most cities in the country would (warmly) welcome a world class school for bright young women and go out of their way to attract bright young women to their city. But you are worried about pick up and drop off and your precious sidewalk space? Every single house around Castilleja has an ENORMOUS driveway and plenty of parking. Each house around Castilleja is worth MILLIONS.
This seems incredibly petty.

Posted by Other side of Embarcadero, a resident of Downtown North
on Aug 22, 2013 at 11:28 am

I am responding to the posting above. These are middle school and high school students who are yet to make their mark on the world and contribute to our society. We welcome any business to operate in Palo Alto as long as it functions within the set legal boundaries of our town, we especially appreciate a business that contributes to our city's tax base, Castilleja does neither. Besides, why should it matter if a private school is for glorified girls or autistic children, it about educating, leaving a minimal footprint on the community and treating those around you with respect. Castilleja administration has been crafty in the way they have been expanding this business, they have disregarded their neighbors, and contributed practically nothing to the city of Palo Alto.

Posted by palo alto parent, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Aug 22, 2013 at 5:34 pm

Bringing the enrollment at Casti back in line with their use permit is easy, but could take some years. When students leave - their spaces should not be filled. Incoming classes should be sized at 60 (which I think they used to be) so the school goes back to its approved enrollment. If they need more money, raise the tuition or use some of their huge endowment.

The request to increase enrollment is really only about the $$.

Posted by Aquamarine, a resident of Stanford
on Aug 22, 2013 at 5:43 pm

New to Palo Alto makes some great points. It's also too bad that: " We welcome any business to operate in Palo Alto as long as it functions within the set legal boundaries of our town, we especially appreciate a business that contributes to our city's tax base" doesn't apply to the other companies who've operated in Palo Alto that did harm to others. All of a sudden residents are the moral arbiters of what businesses exist in Palo Alto?

"leaving a minimal footprint on the community and treating those around you with respect." Uh, that's not really what makes a business successful, but all of a sudden you're holding that up as an example?

Methinks you're just upset that they've been getting one over on you and "no one puts Baby in the corner!" is your mentality.

Posted by Casti Alum, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Aug 23, 2013 at 2:23 pm

Interesting. I am from East Palo Alto. I attend Castilleja for high school. I took the bus. I was on a full scholarship for all four years. A solution may be to carpool, bike, skate, bus, or walk. Eliminate student driving? That may suck for my driving Casti Sisters, but, it's an idea. The school should stay put at 1310.

Posted by Pohlmann, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 29, 2013 at 11:15 am

Amen to Casti Alum!
Yes, Nancy Kaufmann, perhaps you should follow your students' leadership and your school's motto. Women Learning to keep their word on an agreement and Women Leading the way for more sustainable options. Get the girls and parents to use public transit!

Posted by OPar, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 29, 2013 at 1:57 pm

Ummm, Castilleja's not going to move. Given our real-estate prices, it's unlikely to be worth it.

Casti girls have an unusually high rate of admission to Stanford and the Ivies--so it's not PA's middle schools, but Casti's success in college placement that drives at least part of the demand.

I'm sure morning traffic is a pain, but I had to laugh when I saw the complaint about the possible affect on local real-estate prices. As if you don't live in houses that are worth a million-plus more than what you paid for them. As if they wouldn't sell in a heartbeat if you put them on a market at a competitive price.

And, yes, anyone who lives near the overcrowded elementaries (Ohlone's limited access for its 600-plus kids is a prime example) knows what congestion is.

That said, the bad traffic around the schools creates further traffic snarls in that it makes it less safe to have your kid bike or walk to school alone (in the younger grades)

Posted by Hmmm, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Aug 30, 2013 at 11:18 am

OPar - good comments. As one who often gets caught in school traffic, it has gotten worse. I've become even more cautious, which is a good thing, but what's terrifying is that idea doesn't seem to have occurred to everyone else & I worry about the kids. The Casti situation is much more organized. The Paly traffic is more worrisome, IME. Unfortunately, so much of this points to how poor pub transpo options are, given the increased population, as well as how many of the older kids on bikes & on foot just ignore traffic laws - on top of the lousy drivers who don't factor school traffic into their drive.

Posted by neighbor of school, a resident of Professorville
on Oct 1, 2013 at 10:00 am

"...Castilleja neighbor doesn't think $300,000 is steep enough..."

in response to the 300,000 fine just levied

Enrollment is over by 33 pupils

Annual tuition of $38,200 per pupil

Doing the math, a 300K fine means they make significant revenue by being out of compliance... hmmmm