Other Voices: Find best solution for enrollment growth, not quickest one

Enrollment growth is a long-term issue that warrants a lasting, thorough solution to benefit current and future generations of Los Altos School District (LASD) students. It takes trust and patience, but our students and residents are worthy of a comprehensive resolution that serves our community well for decades to come. Let’s not jump at the quickest or easiest answer, but work together toward the best one.

At the end of the day, this decision is about what is best for our children and our children’s children. Our students need a place to continue thriving under the fantastic conditions that have long supported our community. Research has shown that smaller schools strongly support the academic, social and emotional growth of children. Smaller schools also help mitigate traffic issues that larger schools foster. For these reasons, we encourage the district to continue diligently seeking a 10th school site, as it is our best opportunity to protect our award-winning model in the long term.

Acquisition of a 10th site has never been the only option to address growing enrollment, yet community input has consistently shown that it is the best and most preferred option. While creative solutions to use existing land or reconfigure current school sites have been closely studied time and time again, the pursuit of a 10th site has always risen to the top of community priorities. Recommendations from the Superintendent’s Enrollment Growth Task Force in 2013, the Facilities Advisory Committee in 2014, the Facilities Master Plan Committee in 2015 and countless public forums and workshops throughout have all identified the acquisition of a 10th school site as the preferred solution.

The Los Altos School District Board of Trustees has rightfully focused on the community’s recommendation of pursuing a 10th site. Currently, the district is pursuing a partnership with the city of Mountain View to find a creative solution for shared land use north of El Camino Real, an area that will be significantly impacted by enrollment growth. A potential partnership between the district and the city of Mountain View would provide a unique opportunity for smart, responsible government and would kill two birds with one stone: providing a 10th school site to tackle enrollment growth and creating a public park and open space in an area that desperately needs it. We urge the district and the city to continue working together collaboratively to seize this opportunity.

It is crystal clear that our elected trustees take seriously the stewardship of public school sites and their fiduciary responsibilities to the people they serve. The district has been committed to public input and community engagement throughout this process. Only when the district has fully exhausted a search for a 10th site should we revisit the complex question of building high-density schools on current sites. For the sake of our children and teachers, let’s pursue the best solution that benefits all district students and follows the express recommendation of significant community input.

This article is supported and co-authored by Robin Abrams, member of the Los Altos School District Citizens Advisory Committee for Finance; Curtis Cole, chairman of the Citizens Advisory Committee for Finance; Liz Henry, member of the Superintendent’s Enrollment Growth Task Force; Lenny Siegel, Mountain View City Councilman; and Shali Sirkay, member of the Los Altos School District Facilities Master Plan Committee.

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