A group of Los Altos School District parents and community leaders have joined forces to advocate for exploring existing-land solutions to create a 10th school site for the district.
The group recently launched a website, Creative Facilities Solutions at creativefacilitiessolutions.org, to explore existing-land options in parallel with the district’s efforts to purchase a new school site.
The site’s launch comes two and a half years after voters passed Measure N, a bond that raised $150 million to find a permanent solution for a 10th school site and fund upgrades to all campuses in the district.
“Since November 2014, the district has diligently pursued options for suitable land,” group officials said in a statement. “However, limited land options, high real estate prices and the need to make certain proposed land meets the health and safety standards for a school make a permanent solution involving the acquisition of new property time-consuming and difficult.”
The Creative Facilities Solutions website outlines two ideas that would create two new schools without purchasing a large plot of new land. Both involve integrating Bullis Charter School at either the Egan Junior High or Covingtion School site through “smarter utilization” of the existing campuses, such as construction of two-story buildings.
“The district would save money that would otherwise be spent acquiring and, as necessary, remediating a new land site, resulting in two new schools rather than just one and millions of dollars left over for improvements for every school within the district,” group officials said.
The group contends that this solution would allow construction to be completed sooner and that more students would see immediate benefits of Measure N funding through upgrades and improvements to technology and facilities at all district campuses.
“Through the smarter utilization of the more than 116 acres of land already owned by the district, the Measure N money will be distributed more evenly across every school in the district,” said Los Altos Hills City Councilman John Radford, a member of the group. “We feel that this option not only keeps the spirit of Measure N, but also keeps to the spirit of community and collaboration that reflect our community values.”
Los Altos School District Superintendent Jeff Baier and district board members said they continue to pursue new land for a 10th site because they’ve received repeated public input that buying new land should be the No. 1 priority in allocation of Measure N funds.
According to Baier, the district has been “diligent” in its work to identify a solution for the enrollment growth problem, not just for the current year, but also to address the expected growth from the significant amount of high-density housing development planned in Mountain View and Los Altos.
“LASD has gone to the community repeatedly to collaborate around creative solutions through community forums, committee work and task force,” Baier wrote in an email to the Town Crier. “This information is readily available on our website
(lasdschools.org). Though the community reviewed solutions much like those presented on this new website, each time the eventual recommendation has been to pursue the acquisition of additional land for a 10th school site. We are focused on this approach right now. Should the need arise, we will refocus our efforts to review options again to densify our existing school sites.”
In addition to Radford, the list Creative Facilities Solutions members includes former Los Altos Mayor Lou Becker, former district Board of Trustees President Ginny Lear, Bullis Charter School Board of Directors Chairman John Phelps, former Los Altos Mayor Jane Reed, Los Altos resident John Reed and district parents Randy Salim and Amanda Oakson.
Group members said they seek to open a dialogue to discover the best solution.
Visit creativefacilitiessolutions.org for more information.