The Los Altos School District is bursting at the seams and needs Mountain View’s help, especially because much of the district’s recent enrollment growth originates in the neighboring city.
District Board of Trustees President Doug Smith made a case at the Feb. 12 council meeting for more awareness – and more involvement – from city leadership in helping the district address its capacity problem. The ultimate goal could be the opening of a district campus in Mountain View.
Smith noted that 1,226 of the district’s nearly 5,000 students hail from Mountain View, accounting for 26 percent of the total population. He pointed to the city’s San Antonio Visioning Area, bounded by San Antonio Road, El Camino Real, Central Expressway and Escuela Avenue, as a particular concern. Developer Merlone Geier is current building its massive Village at San Antonio project, constructing 330 apartment units at its 16-acre site at El Camino and San Antonio.
Smith said the number of Mountain View students in the San Antonio area has more than doubled over the past 15 years, from approximately 200 children in the 1996-1997 school year to last year’s total of 565.
“We could service an entire school in just that small footprint,” Smith said.
Limits on school populations could force children to attend schools that aren’t close by.
“You’d have students next door to schools going somewhere else,” he said.
Smith said enrollment in the district, approaching 5,000 students, is at its highest since 1973, when the district had 12 schools. The Los Altos School District currently has nine campuses.
“We are at a breaking point in terms of capacity,” Smith told the council.
“Where is this growth coming from?” Councilman Mike Kasperzak asked Smith.
Kasperzak cited the Avalon Towers complex on El Camino Real as the only housing addition in the San Antonio area over the past 15 years.
Smith said the district is a magnet for families with young children, and that this demographic dominates much of the turnover in home sales.
Developer fees, funding given to school districts to account for new housing, have little impact on helping with district growth. But more involvement from Mountain View leadership could.
“I’d rather be talking with you sooner than later in the development process,” Smith said.
Following the meeting, Smith outlined his objective with Mountain View councilmembers.
“We first need to get agreement to work more closely together,” he said. “We might consider working together to consolidate the park space and have a shared school/ park space. We might work on a campus that can also be used as a community center. We’re open to a wide variety of options, but we need to begin the dialogue to make that happen. I believe that our community will support a bond to build facilities, but we’ll need to identify land and have a vision that folks can support.”