Garland school may be reopened

Publication Date: Wednesday Jan 1, 1997

EDUCATION: Garland school may be reopened

Palo Alto school board needs to chose location for new 12th elementary school

Palo Alto school board President John Tuomy was in first grade in 1953 when Garland Elementary School opened in his neighborhood.

In the next few weeks, Tuomy and the school board will decide whether to reopen his alma mater, which was closed in 1979 because of declining enrollment. "I have fond memories of that school," said Tuomy, whose parents' Garland Drive home backs up to the school.

Last July, because of enrollment growth, the school board decided to reopen a 12th elementary school. The board put off the decision about where that school would be until this year. But the time for a choice to be made is fast approaching.

The school board will be choosing between Garland or the old JLS Middle School site. Despite its age, Garland is in good condition and would be one of the least expensive to renovate. On the other hand, the old JLS site is large, next to another elementary school, and is in south Palo Alto, where there is an enrollment crunch.

"I think today, and I may change my mind tomorrow, that Garland is a better location," said board member Julie Jerome, citing growth expected from new housing in the north and west.

Tuomy agreed, saying that even though there is crowding in the south, it could be solved if the board decides to move Hoover School--one of two alternative schools--out of Barron Park to Garland, freeing up the Barron Park site to become a neighborhood school.

Neighbors whose homes back up to Garland School are mostly positive about the idea of having an elementary school behind them again. Right now, the school has two tenants--Mid-Peninsula High School and the International School of the Peninsula.

"I think it's a good thing," said Garland Drive resident Scott Stehle, who went to Garland until it closed. "I think it's good for the kids that are here. It's nice to stay around here and not have to cross Embarcadero."

Neighbor Carol Chaney said it wouldn't make much difference to her, but she doesn't think the district "should push private schools out to open a public school."

All five board members agree that none of the money for the new elementary school will come out of the $143 million school bond money voters approved in 1995. Ideas for funding the 12th school include using bond interest income, developer fees (for new housing and commercial construction) or a parcel tax.

--Elizabeth Darling 

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