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Los Altos seeks Mtn. View’s help in school capacity issues

Los Altos city councilmembers are asking their Mountain View counterparts to consider planning for a future school site near the cities’ shared border at San Antonio Road and El Camino Real.

The Los Altos council unanimously approved a letter to the Mountain View City Council March 12 requesting that members explore the possibility of a new neighborhood elementary school site for the Los Altos School District as part of theSan Antonio visioning process.

The Mountain View council held a study session on the process March 19. Only one district site – Springer School – currently operates inside Mountain View’s borders.

Council supports school district

The Los Altos City Council’s letter comes after Los Altos School District Board of Trustees President Doug Smith presented a case for more involvement from Mountain View’s council in February to address the district’s ongoing enrollment challenges. Among other things, Smith noted at the time that 565 district students lived in Mountain View near the San Antonio area last year.

Los Altos City Councilwoman Val Carpenter said she wrote the letter to support the district’s efforts.

“I wrote this letter because I really believe that our council needs to support the school district in their quest for land to build another neighborhood school in Mountain View. … I think it’s important to take a position on this,” Carpenter said.

The letter noted that 26 percent of the Los Altos School District’s student population – 1,226 students – live in Mountain View.

It also claimed that enrollment by Mountain View residents in the district will likely continue to grow, pointing to the development of 330 new apartments at The Village at San Antonio Center – located near the cities’ shared border at San Antonio Road and El Camino Real.

Developing a detailed plan

Paul Edwards, a resident of The Crossings community – located adjacent to the San Antonio Center development – urged the Los Altos council to send the letter.

“You wouldn’t build a house without a detailed plan – why is the city of Mountain View building a neighborhood without one?” he questioned.

Edwards said a neighborhood school would also address safety concerns, noting that currently many students must cross El Camino Real into Los Altos daily during heavy traffic periods.

He added that ongoing construction of housing developments approved by both councils near the cities’ border would likely result in at least 500 new children attending Los Altos School District schools in the future.

Prior to the council’s vote, Los Altos City Councilwoman Jan Pepper said the letter should reflect a “conciliatory tone,” noting that the cities have a shared concern about the district’s capacity problems.

“It is a shared issue,” she said. “We need to work together to solve this.”

Councilwoman Megan Satterlee, meanwhile, expressed concern about the letter’s effectiveness.

“I fear it’s a bit presumptuous for an adjacent city to tell its neighbor that they have a neighborhood problem, and here’s how to solve it,” she said. “I respect the intent. I think the motivation is good, I think the desired outcome is good. Again, I’m not sure this is going to be effective.”

Los Altos Mayor Jarrett Fishpaw, however, said his conversations with Mountain View Mayor John Inks indicated that “there’s some interest in collaboration” on the matter, adding that the letter likely wouldn’t “step on anyone’s toes.”

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