Wed10222014

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Enrollment Growth Task Force reaches turning point: Group member cites progress in developing recom


Photo By: Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Photo Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier

The Los Altos School District is developing strategic approaches aimed at addressing enrollment growth at schools. Ellie Van Houtte/ Town Crier

The Los Altos School District Enrollment Growth Task Force has reached a critical juncture, according to one of the group’s members.

Duncan MacVicar, the city of Los Altos’ representative on the 12-member task force, told the Town Crier that the group hit a turning point Jan. 5, the sixth of 11 planned meetings. Specifically, MacVicar noted, the group is working toward finalizing a short list of “findings,” data-driven conclusions on the current enrollment challenges.

“We finally have changed our posture from data gathering to extracting conclusions from the things we’ve learned,” MacVicar said after last week’s meeting of the task force, which includes representatives from the district, Bullis Charter School, the Los Altos and Mountain View Chambers of Commerce and the cities of Los Altos, Los Altos Hills and Mountain View.

The group will use the final list of findings to develop strategic approaches aimed at solving present and future enrollment growth issues affecting district schools, including Bullis Charter School, added district Superintendent Jeff Baier.

Preliminary findings include the anticipated increase in enrollment based on projected multifamily housing in the area, the charter school’s expansion plan and how the growth aligns with community values and district philosophies.

“We’re getting to (conclusions), but we’re not there yet,” said Baier, who anticipates presenting the list of task force-developed approaches to the district board of trustees in May. “The participants in the group are currently gravitating toward some common beliefs and findings.”

MacVicar added that a subgroup of the task force is scheduled to work on whittling down the findings list before their next meeting, Feb. 26.

“I expect that the subgroup working on the findings will do a lot of good work,” MacVicar said. “It’s become clear that we do need to make our decisions rather soon.”

MacVicar noted that the task force’s early meetings focused heavily on mining data related to enrollment at current district school sites and reviewing a March 2012 demographer’s report that forecast the enrollment for the near future.

The group also studied neighboring school districts’ enrollment metrics and an alternate report on the impact of new housing developments in Los Altos and Mountain View, Baier added.

“I think we’re moving along at a good pace,” said Baier, who anticipates future discussion related to current and potential school sites. “There was a great deal of data to work through. Any time data is produced, you inevitably get a lot of questions from the group about getting more data. … We want to make sure … that we’re looking at all possible solutions.”

Task force members also discussed a potential framework for presenting their results to the general public. Baier said a public engagement plan is currently “in flux.”

“It’s not nailed down yet,” he said, “but we want to make sure the public is informed about the growth challenges the district is facing.”

For more information, visit www.losaltos.k12.ca.us.

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