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New AAAG boundaries proposal make kids cross Oregon

Original post made by Carol, Palo Verde, on Dec 11, 2006

I would like to alert everyone to the latest proposal by the AAAG, to move the southern area of the present Palo Verde school boundaries (probably South of Clara or Colorado) into the proposed new site at Garland, next door to Jordan presently used by Stratford School. This is not acceptable for safety and traffic reasons. The Southgate neighbourhood made a big noise and the latest scenario keeps them at Walter Hays, but it would involve the southern area of Palo Verde having to cross a six lane major thoroughfare where cars are leaving highway conditions and readjusting to surface driving and surface speeds. ELEMENTARY KIDS, who presently are able to walk or bike pleasant neighbourhood streets to Palo Verde, SHOULD NOT BE EXPECTED TO CROSS AN EXPRESSWAY TO SCHOOL. It is not called an Expressway for nothing. An alternative would be to make Ohlone a neighbourhood school and move their programme to Garland. This would be equally unacceptable as those who are presently in the Duvenick area would then have to cross Oregon to go to the Ohlone site. This is equally unacceptable. ELEMENTARY KIDS SHOULD NOT BE EXPECTED TO CROSS AN EXPRESSWAY TO SCHOOL.

This proposal would make traffic nightmares at all the intersections along Oregon which are pretty congested at present in the commute hour.

If you live in the affected areas, please email the Board members your feelings on this matter. There is not much time as the AAAG meets for a debriefing this evening at 5.00 in the Board Room. The public can attend this meeting and can come along with signs saying that elementary kids should not cross expressways.

Carol - Palo Verde AAAG rep.

Comments (13)

Posted by Person
a resident of Midtown
on Dec 11, 2006 at 1:41 pm

Carol, what is the latest AAAG thinking on the placement of choice programs? Particularly MI? What about Hoover? The MI feasibility study was suggesting Ohlone or Escondido for MI - either of which sound like they would have consequence for the existing schools already there. Or Garland, which also results in the same commute issue you describe above (and its still displacing folks from neighborhood school, and reducing capacity in the north..)

Why not just leave Ohlone where it is (for now) and open Garland as a neighborhood school?

Or, shouldn't Garland ~and~ Ohlone be kept neighborhood schools? - Garland to relieve enrollment for all the schools North of Oregon. Ohlone because it will be needed to relieve enrollment pressure with the new housing coming on board in the South.

And shouldn't choice programs just be placed wherever. (Whatever is left over, wherever first priority neighborhood boundaries can be left in tact.) Maybe there are available buildings or warehouses along the Park Blvd. Or maybe they can occupy some of the rooms of Cubberley. They are commuters - they should be the most mobile. And their children will be driven so they won't have the same safety concerns.

On the other hand I understand many choice program participants are really just neighbors that signed up in order to stay in the school most proximate to their neighborhood. So maybe there's not as much value in the choice programs as everyone seems to claim. Perhaps if we move them out of prime neighborhood locations we'd get a real handle of how much they are valued as distinct program in and of them.

It sounds like choice programs create constraints for keeping large distinct populations together, and other special considerations that make the boundary issue more, not less complex.

Do we have this luxury? In times of tight capacity, constraints are more difficult to work with and become more costly. Sometimes to achieve your constraint parameters you need to add cost to the system you otherwise wouldn't have had. (Like a 13th school, or more?)

More constraints = more cost? Or was I sleeping during my manufacturing planning classes at Santa Clara U.

Posted by k
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Dec 11, 2006 at 7:59 pm

I agree with the idea that a choice program must be lowest priority in being placed at a site within the district. I certainly hope they (any choice programs) don't get to pick where they are placed!

Posted by James
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Dec 11, 2006 at 10:22 pm

Another item that needs to be looked at is not opening the 13th school and leaving things as they are. The predictions call for growth, but predictions are notoriously inaccurate. Capacity isn't maxed until 2010 with the new growth predictions. That's four years away. The Garland lease is up in a few years and it should be essentially ready to go when it's needed since it's being used as a school currently, and the district made improvements when they used it as Terman.

The district has too many other issues to deal with and not enough free money to spend to come up with plans that spend more money and use school sites less efficiently. On top of the $6M to open a new school and the $1.5M or so per year to operate, you're also taking schools that are capable of educating 500 students and putting 350-400 in them. The district should be trying to be more efficient, not less efficient.

In addition, there's the possibility that the Los Altos Hills students could leave the district, not only decreasing the enrollment but also taking a good chunk of property taxes with them. Plus the executive management trust issues, the resignation of the superintendent, Mandarin Immersion, etc...

There's no need to rush to a decision, unless they just want to shove it through before Callan resigns so the new superintendent doesn't have to worry about boundary changes.

Posted by Carol
a resident of Palo Verde
on Dec 12, 2006 at 8:54 am


You state a lot in your thread, but you obviously know very few of the facts.

Garland has the type of lease that will take three years to get back once notice has been made to the present school.

Garland will be expensive to re-open because although there were upgrades made to the school, there will still need to be more done to get to B4E standards (you could ask why this was not done
originally, but that is another debate) and it does not include the cost of furniture, computers, etc. etc. all of which the District would have to buy and get running which would take longer than summer break.

Most of our elementary schools were not built to house 500 and most are running over the capacity of the original design. We have been assured of class size in this District as the means of passing a Bond and so we are limited to 20 in the younger grades without going back on that promise. If we did go back on that promise, we would lose some funding from the State which would actually cost us more than we would save by having less salaries and less modulars to buy plus the bad feeling, unless we increased this number by 25 per classroom (or more) which would not make the voters happy. Most of our elementary sites can not take more modular classrooms and keep enough field space, MP rooms capacity, etc. If you think this isn't important, then watch what happens at lunch and recess.

LAH students leaving, if it does happen, won't happen immediately, and we have an immediate problem of overcrowding in the majority of our schools, and the new developments have already started being built so the new influx of children from there can happen by the beginning of the new school year.

There is urgency in this matter. The new kindergarten registration begins next month and the work of starting to get the students into their new middle and high schools begins then as well. We don't have the luxury of waiting for a new Superintendent.

Apart from all that, the Board wants to move forward without being typical "Palo Alto process" being invoked and I for one respect them for that.

Posted by Midtown Neighbor
a resident of Midtown
on Dec 12, 2006 at 9:15 am

James - I totally agree with your comments. I think the school district should not rush to open a 13th elementary school. I think one more reason there is pressure to do so, is Mandarin Immersion. MI needs two strands to function long term and since there is no current elementary school that could house them at 2 strands (without displacing neighborhood children), one plan is to let them start as a single strand in a school where there's currently room and then move them to Garland (or other new school site) when they open it. I think this is problematic since this increases the pressure to open the site, even if we really don't need it. I say don't start the MI program until we know for certain we need the 13th elementary school.

Posted by Bill
a resident of Palo Verde
on Dec 12, 2006 at 10:15 am

James, I don't know any reason to support "capacity won't be maxed until 2010." Just because demographers look ahead only 5 years, it doesn't follow that they have seen all the way to the end of the trend in that short span. It is a terrible error to assume that the max within 5 years happens to be the same as the max within 20 years. Maybe a 5% chance that that is right, and a 95% chance is is wrong. When it gets to be 2010, we will almost certainly be looking at vastly more kids by 2015 than in 2010. Then we will be discussing the 14th, 15th, and 16th elementary schools. as well as squeezing more into each classroon, and squeezing more onto each square foot of vanishing playyards if modulars are added. But by 2010, we will have stopped talking about renting our shools, held in trust for Palo Alto public school kids, out to private shools for their purposes, just because they make payments to PAUSD of $1500 - 2000 per kid per year !

Posted by anonymous
a resident of Greene Middle School
on Dec 12, 2006 at 12:15 pm

Midtown neighbor seems to have it right when he/she comments on a possible re-opening of Garland - it appears everything is being done on behalf of the proposed MI. I think the things are being rushed through on behalf of MI - I wasn't impressed by the basic report on MI that glosses over issues. I see a real possibility of neighborhood children being re-directed from elementary (and God forbid, middle school in future) if MI is rushed through. I think a thoughtful examination of the district's situation in terms of enrollment, district goals, etc. is needed first.

Posted by Andrea
a resident of Crescent Park
on Dec 12, 2006 at 12:30 pm

I hope you and others who feel as you do will come to the board meeting tonight to add your vioce. If nothing else, it will be an informative look at the decision-makers of our district.

Posted by James
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Dec 12, 2006 at 1:55 pm

I'm not sure what facts I misrepresented. The fact is that according to state standards our schools have a lot more room for capacity. This is stated in the capacity report by the district.
The district can give Stratford notice now, with a district option to extend it on a year to year basis. If Stratford refuses and leaves, then the loss of income is not huge and the district could probably find someone to take it on a year to year basis.

Increasing choice program capacity is another way to ease the crowding. With the district pushing ahead on MI, who knows what the numbers will look like. The problem is that the only way to open a full MI program w/o displacing neighborhood kids is to open Garland. They can then move SI with MI and have all of the choice schools in non-neighborhood schools. But now the cost of an MI program is $7M+ because it has effectively forced the opening of a new school that is not actually needed.

And I am at school at many lunch and recess periods and also in the classrooms. All of the kids look like they're having a great time. And there are always areas that aren't being used. If there are schools that are crowded, schedule changes can mitigate most of that. Don't send the whole school to recess/lunch at the same time. Most schools have kinders seperate already, so it's a matter of staggering recess times. Hardly a reason to spend $7M and redraw boundaries.

I'd rather have the district be slightly cautious instead of diving in before seeing how deep the water really is.

Posted by Maddy
a resident of Palo Verde
on Dec 12, 2006 at 2:29 pm

I don't see any reason why a permanent home for 240 MI students would have to be designated from the beginning. If MI is approved by the board, it could be started with the initial 40 students in a temporary location, and subsequently moved as the program expands and as the district sees the impact of MI and new Palo Alto housing developments on attendance. After all, it will take six years for MI to reach 240 students.

Posted by Bill
a resident of Palo Verde
on Dec 12, 2006 at 3:16 pm

James, and others,

Please be aware that a "cost" of $6-Mil to reopen Garland may well be totally misleading. As
our District CFO pointed out, the "as is" cost is only $ 600,000. And its present condition
is pretty fine. Note 2 points: First, Garland has had $2-3 Mil of refurbishing already since
2000; Second, Garland is good enough now for Stratford to use for many years withot any
large costs. And would you rather pay $ 5-6 Million for 20-24 Modulars to equal the
scholar capacity of Garland, or $ 0.6 Million to reopen Garland, getting also the benefit of
INCREASED playground space, versus LOSING it when schools are over-populated with
Modulars ???


Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 12, 2006 at 3:27 pm

You don't see ~any~ reason why a permanent home for 240 MI students would have to be designated up front???? Did you by any chance write the feasibility study? I'm sure you might be able to dig deep into your wild imagination and find some teensy weensy downside to this statement

Here are just a couple that pop to mind..

1) What 'temporary' spot are you suggesting that won't displace anyone? Why should 40 families be displaced for their kindergarten year, and next year 80 displaced, and the following year 120 be diplaced - and so on, until the board (or Grace) gets around to getting brave enough to decide which neighborhood school will come up with the short stick.

How temporary do you mean? 1 year? 2 years? Its a delay, not a fix.

2) Eventually the program will have to be placed. The problem doesn't go away, just goes away long enough for this particular group of enraged parents to go away. Are you suggesting the problem gets better six years from now? How's that? Because MI will have generated so much enrollment growth on its own, that it will throw us over the edge into the 13th (or maybe even 14th) school? And thats good how???

3) How disruptive is it for a program to be moved around? Why don't you go ask Grace and Mandy about Cupertino' MI really attrocious attrition experience in their start up years. They'll be quick to defend based on the fact that the program was moved around in the early years, so folks were displeased and dropped out. I think they have 6 remaining of their original class... Also, how do you create consistency of management of the program? This will take some heavy lifting in startup effort. Does the principal move with the program? Or do you get a new principal every time you scoot this program over into a new school.

Sounds like we should be getting ready for a big heaping helping of denial and passing the buck to the next generation of decision makers at tonite's board meeting.

Posted by Maddy
a resident of Palo Verde
on Dec 12, 2006 at 4:07 pm

Actually, Parent, you're assuming I support MI and I do not, primarily because I think there are some huge, unmet needs for the children currently in this district, and MI will only serve those who have not even entered our system yet, with the possible exception of some in Young Fives. I also question whether MI can be implemented without the expenditure of privately raised funds for staff. Way too much sweat and tears (maybe even some blood) was shed during the years leading up to the formation of PiE to have exceptions for special programs.

But this thread was about attendance areas, and given that there are a number of unknowns right now, I was suggesting that IF the board approves MI, that it could be temporarily situated somewhere. Yes, I agree, it would be a delay, not a fix. My kids are in middle and high school now and attended school during all the B4E years with portables/relocatables all over their school campuses. It's not ideal, but it's been done before and may very well be done again to accommodate enrollment growth, MI or no MI.

You raise some good points, but if MI is approved, are you suggesting that the board reserve 12 classrooms right off the bat to prevent ever having to displace anyone? Until a 2 strand immersion program is fully enrolled in K-5, they will have to displace 40 additional kids a year. I'm sure this will be a significant factor for the board in making its decision.

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