Parents express unhappiness with plans to move Palo Verde to Cubberley during construction, but council goes ahead | New


The plan to move Palo Verde and Hoover elementary schools to the Cubberley Community Center and the adjacent Greendell site during construction of their campuses was brought forward at a Tuesday November 2 meeting of the Unified School District Education Council. from Palo Alto, although some parents have expressed strong concerns about the idea.

Palo Verde’s parents spoke out at the meeting against moving their school temporarily – and some board members said they wished there was more time for the community – even though the board approved unanimously the start of the design of the temporary campus.

At Tuesday’s meeting, the board also approved new long-term goals for the Cubberley site, including setting aside at least 20 acres for a future theory school, as well as the approval of the start of the design process for the new Hoover campus.

The council also heard an update on infrastructure repairs that are planned for Cubberley, although no formal votes were taken on this.

Cubberley is a dilapidated 35-acre campus on Middlefield Road in southern Palo Alto that was once a high school. The district owns 27 acres of the site, with the city of Palo Alto owning the remainder. The city and the school district both operate programs on the site, with the city leasing land from the district to operate a community center on the property. Next to Cubberley is Greendell, owned by the district.

The future of Cubberley, whose buildings have fallen into disuse, has long been a source of public debate and disagreement. The city has expressed interest in jointly redeveloping the property to include a new community center, a potential school and even housing, while the district has said it wants to keep enough land for construction of a new school on the site to remain. possible.

In the short term, Palo Alto Unified plans to use parts of Cubberley and Greendell as a temporary campus while Palo Verde and Hoover are renovated. The plan is for Palo Verde to move to the site next school year, with Hoover there for the next two years.

The timeline will force the district to act quickly, and some parents objected that the council did not seek their advice before moving forward with the project.

“Obviously, I am deeply concerned about how this hasty decision was made unilaterally by the board of directors with very little to no community involvement other than the procedural mechanisms,” said a parent. at Tuesday’s meeting.

He added that the board’s initial discussion of the Palo Verde relocation was functionally a “minor footnote” on the agenda for the October 19 meeting, when the board considered various plans to move forward. ‘facilities under a single agenda item.

“It is absurd to make this decision and vote through the board before receiving community feedback in an open community forum in Palo Verde,” said another parent. “All the parents in the school are livid, quite frankly.”

The idea of ​​students taking their lessons in a parking lot was of particular concern to parents. The current arrangement would involve putting portable buildings in an on-site parking lot for fourth and fifth graders. Kindergarten to Grade 3 classes would be held in existing portable and traditional classrooms in Greendell.

To make room for the temporary school site, the District Adult Education Program would move from Greendell to the Cubberley Buildings, and other district programs that are currently in Greendell, such as the Kindergarten program. transition, would be grouped into fewer rooms.

Board members acknowledged that moving Palo Verde and Hoover to Cubberley during campus construction would cause disruption for families, but nonetheless voted 5-0 to approve the design of the temporary school site, which is expected to cost $ 350,000, paid with the District’s Measure Z 2018 bond. The total cost of the temporary campus project is expected to be $ 2.3 million, although that may change once the design is finalized.

Board member Jesse Ladomirak said the families were correct that the decision to move to Palo Verde was made “quickly and without community input,” and said she believed the Palo Verde families should be involved in discussions on how to mitigate the impacts of the move.

“Time constraints meant that this decision was taken quickly before most people even knew it was being considered,” Ladomirak said. “I understand. I understand why people feel caught off guard.”

At the same time, she said the decision to relocate Palo Verde had to be made by experts, adding that the district team had the experience and granular knowledge of the project to determine why it was the right decision.

At the board meeting on October 19, facilities and construction manager Eric Holm told the board that by moving students from the Palo Verde campus during construction, the project would take a school year. instead of two and a half.

Board member Todd Collins expressed unhappiness at the November 2 meeting with the way plans to use Cubberley as a temporary campus have gone.

“The rushed process and the lack of community input were disappointing,” Collins said. “It’s not typical of the way we’ve made decisions in the past.”

On November 2, board members also voted unanimously to approve the design of the new permanent Hoover campus. The neighborhood intends to demolish existing buildings in Hoover, then reconfigure and redevelop the campus. The total project is expected to cost $ 73 million and be completed in the 2022-2023 and 2023-2024 school years.

As part of the same vote to move forward with the rebuilding of Hoover, the board also approved a review of its long-term goals for Cubberley. The council is now explicitly prioritizing the conservation of at least 20 acres of land for a potential future school site and is removing previous goals which included moving the district office to Cubberley and building housing for staff in the field. .

The board did not discuss the Hoover redesign and Cubberley site goals at Tuesday’s meeting except to take the formal vote. The discussion took place at the previous meeting on October 19, where board members supported both projects.

Although the district wants to keep at least 20 acres for a future school, any real plan on what to build there is still likely decades away, the board and administrators said. The remaining land the district owns could now be transferred to the city for use as a future community center, although no formal plan has been announced.

The board of directors also heard Tuesday plans to spend about $ 200,000 in Measure A funds to make infrastructure repairs to existing buildings in Cubberley. These include solving electrical problems and repaving a yard that has been disturbed by tree roots. The board is expected to take a formal vote on the work at a future meeting.

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