The Los Altos School District is appointing a task force to research options that could assist the district in solving its capacity issues.
The panel’s mission requires understanding the enrollment challenges facing the district and weighing potential impacts on the current and future education of the community’s children. The task force is also directed to explore a long-term plan to house Bullis Charter School students and staff using current and/or future facilities.
“Education is an important aspect of life in Los Altos,” Superintendent Jeff Baier said. “The ideas out of this task force have a potential to impact the current and future children of this community. We know one of the issues we have is 10 schools on nine school sites and how we are going to handle that in the future.”
The task force will include 12 representatives selected from various segments of the community: a district parent leader; a district principal; a nominee from the Los Altos and Mountain View Chambers of Commerce; three residents selected by the Los Altos, Los Altos Hills and Mountain View city councils; three representatives recommended by the district; a Bullis Charter School parent selected by the charter board; and a member of the district administration. Incumbents and past members of the city councils and school district and charter school boards are not eligible to serve.
Baier said the composition is intended to encompass a broad community voice.
“The education of our children is of vital importance to everyone in the community,” he said. “I want to give them a voice in the grand discussion.”
Members will review possible solutions to the student capacity challenges, including, but not limited to, existing school district sites, sites within district boundaries previously considered by the board, purchase or lease of privately owned parcels/facilities for a school site, purchase or lease of publicly owned parcels/facilities for a school site and additional sites or strategies not previously considered.
The group is tasked with determining the benefits, costs and impact of each possible solution; prioritizing and recommending the best solutions; determining whether an additional school site is needed; considering educational recommendations as part of the analysis; and providing an unbiased voice for the broader community and its children.
A district-retained land-use expert with experience determining sites for educational institutions and civic buildings would be available as a consultant.
Meetings, expected to convene around December, will be open and publicized to promote transparency.
District Board President Mark Goines said it is important for the task force to understand the district’s requirements regarding school size.
“I do think we should make sure (task force members) understand and are carefully instructed of our policies on neighborhood schools and school size,” he said. “We believe in that policy; it is a community-centric neighborhood policy.”
Baier said the policy outlines the targets for small, medium and large schools, adding that the neighborhood communities dictate the appropriate sizes. The task force will not address changing the policy but should understand why it is in place.
“As you increase school size, you begin to change the community and the educational dynamic within that school,” Baier said. “We would never want a child to become just another child at the school. Our children are still known by name, and that is of critical importance to us. We factor that into our schools’ successes.”
Goines said the group should evaluate whether the district remains in its current K-6 and junior-high configuration or moves toward a K-5 with a middle-school model. He added that he would like the task force to address the possibility of rolling out full-day kindergartens and how that would affect future facilities plans.
1"Policy on School size"
at Wednesday, 03 October 2012 16:16
As a member of the LAH Town Council, I welcome the opportunity to nominate a resident to participate on this Task Force.
What I question is the usefulness of a taskforce studying capacity issues without being able to consider adding capacity at any of the schools over the boards current policies. This seems incredibly limiting. It is kind of like studing water conversation options without being able to ask residents to actually conserve more water.
All joking aside, if the District really feels this way maybe they need to check with the people paying the bills for this policy. Are voters really going to be asked to approve another Bond to buy more land so the District can maintain their small campuses knowing the district refused to let this committee explore other options? I say this taskforce should explore ALL options and do it quickly.
2"Pound Foolish, John"
at Thursday, 04 October 2012 10:21
John, you seem to forget that we have the top-ranked schools in California, and that top-ranked status is worth BILLIONS of dollars in increased property values.
Yes, we can "physically" cram perhaps our entire district on to two campuses if we tried. We can have 50 kids in a classroom. We can eliminate all of our special needs funding. Think of all the money we'd save.
Cutting funding to our schools here is pound foolish. Our two neighbors just raised $100m+ school bonds. They aren't stupid.
The limit of campus size is not just some arbitrary limit made up by our district leadership, it's a critical component to keep our schools on top. Our schools here is are successful because of PARENT PARTICIPATION.
With more than 2-3 classes per grade, the "community" of the school breaks down. Parents are no longer connected to their school because it's too big. Parents who have moved here from other districts have testified to this.
Small schools are successful schools.
at Friday, 05 October 2012 17:23
So why has the district closed so many good schools, if it needs more schools now?
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