Editorial: Questions over school site purchase

Los Altos School District officials were elated – and with good reason – after their announcement last month of a potential partnership with the city of Mountain View to purchase land in the high-density and densely populated San Antonio neighborhood for a 10th school site.

Their excitement was prompted in part by the prospect of collecting tens of millions of dollars by selling development rights on the purchased property, in addition to a financial contribution by the city for parkland at the site. The potential influx of funds could mean more of the $150 million in voter-approved Measure N money spent for upgrades at other schools.

But hold up.

The owners of the 8.6-acre former Old Mill site the district has its eye on do not want to sell their property. The district could face a costly and lengthy legal battle if it is intent on acquiring the targeted property.

District officials are noncommittal when pointedly asked whether the school would serve Mountain View kids. After all, we’ve heard for months about the need for a district school in Mountain View’s San Antonio area, because that’s where projected enrollment growth would originate.

Superintendent Jeff Baier said last week that the district board of trustees has yet to determine the occupants of a 10th campus. But any move other than putting San Antonio area kids at the site would seem counterintuitive given the enrollment-growth data. A petition circulated last year at The Crossings housing complex in the San Antonio area fully supported a site purchase based on the assumption that local students would attend the new school.

Baier said the district must first purchase a site before addressing the occupancy question. Acquiring a site may still be years away, considering a potential legal battle.

Meanwhile, time is running out where Bullis Charter School is concerned. Generating buy-in from charter school officials on a site plan is vital to the future health of both the charter and district schools. None of us wants to go back down the road of costly lawsuits over facilities, which were halted under a five-year ceasefire agreement. The district and charter school are in the fourth year of that agreement, so a plan of action must take shape before time runs out.

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The Town Crier welcomes letters to the editor on current events pertinent to Los Altos, Los Altos Hills and Mountain View. Write to us at 138 Main St., Los Altos 94022, Attn: Editor, or email editor Bruce Barton at bruceb@latc.com. Because editorial space is limited, please confine letters to no more than 200 words. Include a phone number for verification purposes. Anonymous letters will not be printed.

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