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Parents express displeasure with plans to relocate Palo Verde to Cubberley during construction, but board moves forward

Original post made on Nov 3, 2021

Plans to temporarily move Palo Verde and Hoover elementary schools to Cubberley Community Center and the adjacent Greendell site gained school board approval Tuesday, though some parents expressed strong concerns about the relocation.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Wednesday, November 3, 2021, 9:52 AM

Comments (15)

Posted by William Hitchens
a resident of Mountain View
on Nov 3, 2021 at 10:34 am

William Hitchens is a registered user.

Building new housing and also retaining least 20 acres of the land for a potential future school site are mutually incompatible. This once was a school. Let it remain a school. In the past (the 80's?), the School District mistakenly closed a few schools and sold the land for housing during a temporary downturn in enrollment. This must not happen again. School land is too valuable for existing future expansion. Also, the last time I was there, there only were two bathrooms, and both were trashed and barely usable. Rebuilding those bathrooms plus maybe adding another pair should be an extremely high priority if it hasn't be done already.

Posted by side splitting
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 3, 2021 at 10:56 am

side splitting is a registered user.

The nonsense of PAUSD never goes away.
I keep reading this article and am dumbfounded at our school board. Does Ladromirack even listen to what she are saying?....why did they vote to approve based upon their comments??

" Board member Jesse Ladomirak said that families were correct to say the decision to relocate Palo Verde was made "quickly and without community input,"

"The time constraints meant that this decision was made quickly before most people even knew it was being considered," Ladomirak said. "I get it. I understand why people feel blindsided."

I do not think the community has true experts working on this decision clearly the PAUSD community is not being well represented by the BOE and our board reps have no backbone.

Collins - "The rushed process and the lack of community input was disappointing," Collins said. "It's not typical of the way we've made decisions in the past." - They why vote in favor?


Posted by Bil
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Nov 3, 2021 at 11:37 am

Bil is a registered user.

"rundown", "buildings fallen into disrepair" sounds like the writer of this article is more than a little prejudiced. Maybe if periodic maintenance and TLC could be applied it would bring Cubberley up to standards. Or we can decide to spend $150 million or so tearing down and rebuilding an entirely new school. But hey, it's only public funds so just open the spigot...

Posted by N. Melius
a resident of Palo Verde
on Nov 3, 2021 at 12:19 pm

N. Melius is a registered user.

I was one of the parents quoted in this article, and on behalf of the Palo Verde community, we appreciate the Weekly's coverage of this critical issue in our families' lives. This website's coverage on 10/20 was the first place we learned of this tragic decision, after it was already settled in the Board's minds without any community involvement. There are so many flaws in this plan; it has to be altered:

1.) Students have already suffered enough during the pandemic (which has affected three school years); this new plan is an unnecessary disruption to a cohort of children who are perfectly happy in an adequate facility at Palo Verde (which can be renovated in segments over time, as originally planned).
2.) As stated at the hearing, and conceded by several Board members, this decision was unacceptably rushed (without any community involvement) by a Superintendent, District Staff, and Board who have run out of patience for parental concerns in the age of COVID-19. I thank Member Collins for his strong words condemning this process.
3.) The current plan for the temporary school is makeshift, unintelligent, and unsafe. The leading "option" for 4th and 5th graders will borrow used portables from elsewhere, place those portables on a decrepit, searing parking lot abutting the heavily-trafficked Middlefield Road, far from the rest of of the school and even farther from any fields that would be a viable option for recess. And the Board proposes to pull all of this off in a matter of months during a global supply shortage.
4.) The putative benefits of shuttering Palo Verde for "just one school year" are likely to prove illusory. Construction projects in Palo Alto have been known to linger.

On behalf of the numerous families who are now forced to choose between this sub-optimal plan, intra-District transfer, private school, and relocating, we urge the Superintendent, Board and District to reconsider this ill-advised plan.

Posted by Consider Your Options.
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 3, 2021 at 12:25 pm

Consider Your Options. is a registered user.

This is a rushed decision with lots of moving parts that the district staff has not even begun to consider yet. Key among them-- How will these families get to school? Answer: They will be driven to school. And this will create significant impacts that have not been planned for on nearby streets.

Lots of lip service is being paid to the Safe Routes to School Partnership by Dr. Austin and the Board with regard to this change. What will PAUSD do to manage the traffic safety impacts of this sudden and ill-considered change on school commute safety, mode shift objectives, and nearby neighborhoods? What resources will PAUSD offer to solve the problems they are about to create in very short order?

All of you claimed to support Safe Routes to School (SRTS) when you ran. It's time to demonstrate your support by applying resources to working with the city on mitigating the traffic changes you are about to create. These families and nearby neighborhoods deserve better. Time is short. Even if we work really hard, it will be challenging to get a plan in place for the first round of transplanted elementary school strands by Fall 2022.

Posted by Samuel L
a resident of Meadow Park
on Nov 3, 2021 at 5:40 pm

Samuel L is a registered user.

Todd Collins,
Rushing decisions is exactly how PAUSD makes decisions, at least under Don Austin. It's the reason the board looked at eliminating the two-meeting rule. It's also the reason why so much at PAUSD gets done behind closed doors and is kept quiet. It's why the district hides behind lawyers at every step so that parents have no idea what is happening. By the time parents catch on, it's too late or they've moved on from the district.

Posted by Forever Name
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 3, 2021 at 6:15 pm

Forever Name is a registered user.

Why is anyone surprised with PAUSD School Board's zero notice or consideration for student safety, creating MAJOR traffic issues, and more disruption for students already traumatized during their second year in a pandemic? After PAUSD's inept School Board destroyed our kids' school last year and created a public health emergency with secondary schools being unnecessarily closed while schools across the country were open in person? After PAUSD School Board illegally renewed Don Austin's contract for three years during a pandemic? After PAUSD School Board changed this year's secondary school start times to 9am late start in the name of sleep yet BOTH students and teachers all HATE it and say they get LESS sleep? Every decision has been destructive, wrong, and the Board voted unanimously on all of them (although many of these inane ideas were Jennifer Di Brienza's who seems to believe she is an education expert because of the letters PhD after her name but has been wrong on every major decision and demonstrated very little common sense). The list goes on. PAUSD = Hubris and Sh-- Show.

Posted by Anony Mouse
a resident of College Terrace
on Nov 3, 2021 at 8:39 pm

Anony Mouse is a registered user.

The creation of the false deadline and false urgency is a classic bureaucratic strategy. Pay no attention to the hand-wringing comments by Trustee Collins. This is designed to allow for minimum public input. It's obviously career burnishing for Mr Austin, but at the expense of good sense, transparency and good governance. This is all done with the good wishes of the always-unanimous-voting Board of Trustees.
This is a large amount of money to be spent - what's the rush? Deliberation and public input are vital in a democracy. They are spending your tax dollars people!

@Forever Name - speaking of PAUSD=hubris, did you catch the soliloquy during Mr. Austin's update last night? The idea that we are an example for the region, nay the country is laughable. The idea that the Sup of Dallas Schools (153,000 students) is looking to PAUSD for guidance, as Mr. Austin claimed, is embarrassing and hubristic. The awkward self agrandizing is not in keeping with our status as a smallish district in a gigantic state. Again, this is all done with the good wishes of the always-unanimous-voting Board of Trustees. When is the next election?

Posted by Bystander
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 4, 2021 at 4:22 am

Bystander is a registered user.

PAUSD appears to have done nothing but renovate schools for the 21st century for the past 20 years at least. As far as I'm aware, Palo Verde and Hoover have both been building sites with disruptions to students housing them in temporary portables and losing playground space for years at a time.

When will the schools finally be ready for the 21st centry and when will we no longer be asked for funding for something that should have been done for B4E or whatever excuse was made for parcel tax and bonds?

Posted by Old Person
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 4, 2021 at 10:40 am

Old Person is a registered user.

You will have a better school faster if you move off campus for a year. My children were in elementary school when B4E renovations were being made and it wasn't pleasant. Between the noise, dust, and reduction in playground area, it was not where you wanted your children to be for the year. Sounds like there could have been more (some?) community input in making this decision, but I agree with the school board. After passage of the B4E bond, actual construction at our school started over 10 years later, so it would be good if this new board can speed up that process. And by then, the cost of everything went up. I can't speak for how the money was used, but that was almost 20 years ago and there wasn't enough money to update everything, especially after such a delay.
As far as portables go, you will need portables if you do the construction on-site and you will need portables when enrollment surges and there aren't enough classrooms. Most after-school programs seem to be in portables permanently. They won't be on the best place on the site because hopefully the permanent buildings are there. Parents should not waste their time complaining and work with the board in moving these building projects forward. Maybe this is why these things take so long.
I can't believe parents actually believe it's less disruptive for their children to change schools than to travel a bit farther to remain with their children's cohorts at another site. Their friendships are so important and they must be so happy to be back together this year.
I don't agree with everything the school board does (sometimes very much against), but I appreciate their hard work and decisions they have to make. I wouldn't do their jobs for all the money in Elon Musk's pocket.

Posted by Morgan
a resident of Meadow Park
on Nov 4, 2021 at 12:03 pm

Morgan is a registered user.

Paly has had portables on their campus for who knows how long. Back in April of 2020, Don Austin said "the school has been using some temporary classrooms and wants to have all real classrooms when school reopens in the fall."
Enrollment declining, new science building completed, still portables dumped in the middle of campus.
PAUSD makes statements knowing that they'll be forgotten in 6 months.
There is no authenticity or accountability in much of anything they do.

Posted by Jeremy Erman
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 4, 2021 at 11:50 pm

Jeremy Erman is a registered user.

Which parking lot are they planning on putting portables on? Under the lease agreement with the City of Palo Alto, parking lots at Cubberley Community Center are "Common Areas" which all users of Cubberley share. If the school district plans to unilaterally take possession of parts of the parking lots and deny others the right to use them, that would seem to be a violation of the 5-year lease agreement with the City of Palo Alto which states that use of the common areas is "non-exclusive", i.e., no one party can restrict usage of those areas to itself or deny others the right to use them. The only part of the connected property to which this doesn't apply is Greendell School.

"The portion of the Property including, but not limited to, parking, walkways, restrooms, and other portions of the Property which are non-exclusive are collectively referred to herein as the “Common Areas”. Tenant shall have the non-exclusive right during the Term to use the Common Areas along with others having the right to use the Common Areas."

Web Link

Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Nov 6, 2021 at 11:53 am

Resident 1-Adobe Meadows is a registered user.

I grew up in the Los Angeles School System and understand the problems with ageing buildings that are not up to current earthquake specifications. I also understand the problems of families of school age children moving to locations that have newer and cheaper housing. That requires bussing. When growth in the San Fernando Valley sky rocketed new schools were built in the valley and therefore not bussed over the hill to the inner LA areas. Same story in Oakland.

Every school has to have a minimum number of children to remain open. Every child on my street went to one grammar school but different Junior High and High schools due to the redistricting requirements. PAUSD has to work on their messaging as to what drives their decisions. But moving grammar school age children from a safe residential area to the most heavily trafficked area in the south end of the city require some work to get them there safely.
Bus them from Palo Verde over to Cubberley so that they do not have to negotiate that busy location by themselves or with parent help. Parents bought to provide a safe place for their children. The CUB site is fraught with all type of issues. If nothing else put a police substation at that location for on-campus and shopping center support.

Posted by Consider Your Options.
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 8, 2021 at 5:46 pm

Consider Your Options. is a registered user.

City Manager Ed Shikada punted the lease agreement and handed the PAUSD portion back to the district to do what they will. An outcome like this was predictable to anyone who was paying attention at the time.

The City Manager and Superintendent are not using their advisory committees, PTA relationships, and staffs well to inform these decisions. The city's Office of Transportation appears blindsided. Parents are blindsided. The City School Traffic Safety Committee still has not had a meeting on this subject. At the Board meeting, Don Austin said he had talked with the city about this, but I suppose that meant he had mentioned it to Mr. Shikada in a back room chat.

School sites are among the most traffic impactful facilities we have in the city because their bell time traffic surges are so intense...and the morning surges converge with peak hour traffic. Traffic safety mitigations for this new site and nearby neighborhood school routes need to be planned, funded, and implemented before the kids move in. The district has left no time to do that very necessary work. I view this as a completely irresponsible action for a district that relies on thousands of children walking and biking to school every day. It will affect the school communities who are moved to Cubberley and the kids who live in nearby neighborhoods who rely on Cubberley approach streets for their school commutes.

These Board members said when they ran that they support Safe Routes to School. I see no evidence of that commitment in their rushed approval of a poorly planned and vetted concept. I am profoundly disappointed in the lack of Board leadership safeguarding our school commuting students. Parents learned just today that, at last, there will be a City School Traffic Safety Committee meeting on this subject on December 16. Too late to influence the approved concept. BOE, step up. Lead. Reverse your rushed decision and insist on better information and outreach.

Posted by New in Town
a resident of Palo Verde
on Dec 9, 2021 at 11:34 am

New in Town is a registered user.

My kids are out of school, so I don't have a horse in this particular race, but have people questioned why this only impacting two South PA schools?

Looking back a few years, Paly and Addison received huge donations for new space that they now enjoy. South PA schools and South Palo Alto neighborhoods must disproportionately feel the pain of this plan with two impacted schools and a neighborhood traffic mess....can we also talk about the number of kids hit on bikes recently in south Palo Alto?

PiE was created to remedy the unequal treatment of students between schools of varying wealth. Board members were elected to serve ALL students and families. Gotta wonder why they voted for this - maybe because most live north of Oregon and won't be personally impacted.

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