Council won't insist on new neighborhood school

LASD to decide whether to put Bullis charter at San Antonio site

Despite concerns about traffic and a desire to bring a local neighborhood school to families living in the San Antonio area, a majority of Mountain View City Council members agreed Tuesday night to let the Los Altos School District decide whether to relocate Bullis Charter School to Mountain View.

The council was split on a 5-2 vote, with members Margaret Abe-Koga and Pat Showalter opposed. The council majority said district officials should decide what kind of school would occupy a future campus in the San Antonio area, despite the major financial support from Mountain View to ensure that the densely populated neighborhood gets a local school and acres of park space.

The school district announced plans last month to acquire 8.6 acres of land at the corner of San Antonio Road and California Street, the site of a former Safeway and the Old Mill office complex, in order to build a school in the high-growth region of the district north of El Camino Real. To make it financially feasible in an expensive real estate market, the City Council agreed to allow the district to "sell" the unused density allowed on the property -- a process known as the transfer of development rights (TDRs) -- to developers throughout the city.

The City Council also agreed to commit up to $23 million in the city's park funds to help the district purchase the land. Field space at the school would be available for community use outside of school hours. The city has similar arrangements at several sites in the Mountain View Whisman School District.

But it remains unknown what kind of school would end up on the property. The school board has remained uncommitted on whether the Old Mill site will be the home to a new neighborhood school that serves families in the area, or if Bullis Charter School -- currently split between two district campuses and housed in portables -- should get a permanent school campus in Mountain View.

School board member Bryan Johnson told the council that a neighborhood school is "one of the options," but that there are a multitude of factors that need to go into the decision, including traffic mitigation, classroom design, operational costs and the district's responsibility under state law to provide Bullis Charter School with adequate school facilities.

"Whatever decision we make, we are always going to put students first," he said.

With the city bending over backward to help the school district, Councilwoman Showalter argued it was both reasonable and incumbent upon council members to demand that the school specifically serve the residents of Mountain View living near the campus. Since October last year, rumors have swirled that the school district is planning to put Bullis on the new site, even though it's a magnet school with a regional draw.

Neighborhood schools and parks play an important role in bringing communities together, Showalter said, and placing a school in the area that doesn't serve the local residents would cause a "tremendous" amount of traffic into and out of the area during pick-up and drop-off hours.

"I just feel that we have no business entering into an agreement with another government agency unless we stipulate the benefits we are going to get, and one of them is a neighborhood school," she said.

Throughout the meeting, council members made clear that allowing TDRs is a tough pill to swallow. Early project proposals by developers seeking to buy the density rights show that paving the way for a San Antonio school means several tall, dense office developments would need to go up elsewhere in the city, particularly in the East Whisman area. Abe-Koga said Mountain View residents throughout the city are going to be stuck dealing with the consequences of transferring development rights, and have largely favored a neighborhood school in the area.

Several residents spoke strongly in favor of a neighborhood school, calling it a necessary benefit for the city's constituents in order to offset the massive office developments that will be allowed thanks to the TDRs. Former Mountain View council member Ronit Bryant said the decision effectively replaces a dense residential project on the Old Mill property with office development elsewhere, which she called a "major loss" for the city that would worsen the city's jobs-housing imbalance. It may not be the City Council's job to get involved in the educational and school boundary policies of another agency, she said, but Mountain View residents shouldn't have to pay the price for a charter school that serves residents outside of the city.

"When the district's plans seem to depend on an unprecedented amount of help from the city of Mountain View, it is reasonable for the council to ensure that the result is beneficial to Mountain View as a whole," Bryant said.

Lea Hallert, a district parent who lives near Springer Elementary, said she supported a neighborhood school in the San Antonio area, and emphasized that traffic caused by the charter school would be a major problem. Hundreds of students in the area would be forced to travel into Los Altos for school, while 900 students attending Bullis Charter School would have to travel to the already-congested San Antonio area.

"There are 600 students from (north of El Camino) who have to drive almost 3 miles south to Almond, Santa Rita and Covington, and those students deserve the opportunity to have what my kids already get, which is the opportunity to walk or bike to school," Hallert said.

The district hasn't done a detailed analysis of how Bullis Charter School would affect traffic in the region, according to Tim Tosta, a land use attorney hired by the district. He said there are many "innovative" ways to reduce traffic and make sure it doesn't cause a huge snarl, and that it doesn't do the district any good to exacerbate existing traffic problems in the area.

Stephen Friberg, the president of the Greater San Antonio Neighborhood Association, said he spoke to many residents in the area prior to the meeting, and claims that they are roughly split between wanting a neighborhood school or Bullis Charter School. Getting a school with shared park space in the area is a top priority, he said, and it shouldn't depend on whether it's a charter school or a neighborhood school.

Although council members supported the idea of a neighborhood school, several expressed concerns that making it a requirement for the TDRs and park funds felt like overreach. Councilman John McAlister said the council is ill-suited to make a decision on how best to educate children, and that school district officials should be allowed to decide what to do with the land. Council members may have their misgivings about TDRs creating developments in a "hodgepodge" manner all over the city, but it's a necessary trade-off to get a school in the San Antonio area.

"If building a school and building a park is important to you, you need to move forward with the process that we have."

Councilman Ken Rosenberg agreed that it's not appropriate for the city to interfere with the decision of another public agency, and said he was concerned that adding conditions to the city's contribution would probably "kill the project," leaving the area with no school and no park.

Councilman Chris Clark, whose proposal ultimately won over the council majority, said he wanted a guarantee that the district have a transparent and public process in deciding who the new school will serve, and clearly spell out how elected leaders in Mountain View will have a seat at the table during that process. The motion stops short of granting the city veto power on the school board's final decision.

"At some point before these funds are transferred and before we sign on the dotted line, I think we either need to know what the use of that site is going to be, or we need to know a very clear process ... for how that is going to be decided," Clark said.

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33 people like this
Posted by Steven Nelson
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jan 18, 2018 at 12:29 pm

Issues "schools & kids",and development and jobs/housing imbalance

Thank you Councilwomen Showalter, Abe-Koga and former Council Members Bryant and Kasperzak. Many of us think that you adequately addressed the cost/benefit aspects of this idea, with the proper respect to your constituents, the residents of Mountain View. And many of us thought that you did not come short in your analysis of the tradeoffs.

43 people like this
Posted by Charles
a resident of The Crossings
on Jan 18, 2018 at 12:33 pm

I'm always amused when Stephen Friberg, the so-called president of the Greater San Antonio Neighborhood Association, gets up and speaks and makes any sort of claim regarding the neighborhood. His Greater San Antonio Neighborhood Association never has meetings or elections in direct violation of the association's bylaws. In fact, Mr. Friberg is the de factor dictator. Don't believe me? Just ask him for the meeting minutes and elections results that prove otherwise.
Regardless, this is only indicative of how this entire process and neighborhood has been working. There is a giant steam roller of special interests headed our way. They get what they want. There will be no neighborhood school.

5 people like this
Posted by Lesser San Antonio
a resident of another community
on Jan 18, 2018 at 2:20 pm

If you look at the boundaries of the areas claimed to be covered by the Greater San Antonio Neighborhood, you'll see it's really the Lesser San Antonio Neighborhood. It's a really small geographic area.

10 people like this
Posted by Diane
a resident of Rex Manor
on Jan 18, 2018 at 2:45 pm

Has anybody done a study on the polluted air the children will be breathing. The site is surrounded by constant traffic. It sounds like a really unsafe place for a school. q

47 people like this
Posted by Jim Cochran
a resident of Monta Loma
on Jan 18, 2018 at 2:51 pm

I too congratulate Showalter and Abe-Koga on their position that our council should have a voice in deciding that the new school should be for local students and not the Bullis Charter school. 600 students from Mountain View deserve a local campus.
Mountain View providing $26 million and TDR rights earn our council the right to decide the campus use. Choosing the local students would be the right choice and not "interfering" in education decisions.
I don't trust the Los Altos School Board to make the right decision since they have had such a bad time getting along with the Bullis Charter School people.
By the way, the corner of California and San Antonio is a terrible location for a school. The is a prime commercial location.

22 people like this
Posted by William Hitchens
a resident of Waverly Park
on Jan 18, 2018 at 3:17 pm

William Hitchens is a registered user.

@JimCochran & Diane & Others: I agree that California @ San Antonio is a horrible location for a new school due to traffic, pollution, and general noise & overcrowding issues. Would it be possible to somehow "swap" ownership and development rights on that particular parcel for another parcel that is far more suitable for construction of a school --- some place less crowded, polluted, and busy/noisy? I'm speaking in very general terms since I have no experience with such things.

As for Bullis, I say let LASD figure out how to deal with it and keep the new site for a public school intended for local children --- one where they can walk and ride bikes in relative safety.

17 people like this
Posted by genie ex-bottle
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Jan 18, 2018 at 3:18 pm

it's really quite sad to see the bullis charter school debacle touch yet another community - they never fit in, they never cooperate and they never stop demanding

44 people like this
Posted by love my city
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jan 18, 2018 at 3:37 pm

I don't even know where to begin. This is clearly a misuse of Mountain View's city park funds. If there has ever been a time to pause and plan, this is it. It is a terrible location for a school, especially a Charter school. The impact on traffic will be unfixable.

It is the responsibility of the giant industries who are changing our community, with little vision outside their own goals, to start writing checks to support the infrastructure demands their growth has perpetrated on our city.

Los Altos has recently made over their Downtown with walkable sidewalks and beautiful landscaping. Now they need $23 Million from us to help purchase land for a school they can't guarantee will be used for our students?

This is an absolute outrage. The founders of these giant companies live in the Los Altos Hills. I think it's time Los Altos build some high density housing and office buildings and oh yes, use their own money to pay for it.

The time for a new plan is now.

19 people like this
Posted by Reader
a resident of Waverly Park
on Jan 18, 2018 at 3:50 pm

It would be useful to know what % of charter school students live in MV, LA or LAH. The charter school was the reaction to LAH losing its only public elementary school so wouldn’t it be ironic if lots of LAH families have to drive to the far end of MV.

IMO the best location for BCS is way up in the hills.

23 people like this
Posted by Gary
a resident of Sylvan Park
on Jan 18, 2018 at 4:02 pm

City Councilmember Margaret Abe-Koga noted at the meeting that she had been a member of the county board of education when parents sought to establish Bullis Charter School (some 15 years ago). She noted that the charter school was established because the Los Altos-controlled board of trustees voted to close the only elementary school in Los Altos Hills (while keeping open the other 9 schools in Los Altos). There is no school in the LASD in Mountain View. It well appears that the Los Altos School Board members plan to use the Mountain View site for Bullis Charter - not for a neighborhood school. The City Council has not quite signed off on such a bad deal. There is still time for a majority of the Council to come to its senses.

66 people like this
Posted by @Reader
a resident of another community
on Jan 18, 2018 at 4:03 pm

The charter school serves the entirety of LASD, not just Los Altos Hills. I wonder what you mean by way up in the hills? The population of LAH is somewhat clustered down toward Foothill Expressway, which is why the current LASD school is located in that area. Gardner Bullis only serves 330 kids, and some of them are LAH residents who come from the area that is in PAUSD on an interdistrict transfer. Way up in the hills is wrong, but it would not be wrong to wonder why LASD doesn't build for the charter school on the 10 acre site currently serving the 300 LASD kids and the 30 PAUSD kids. Answer is that the LAH Town Council and community have put a push on LASD not to do this. Unlike MV, they are on the lookout for the kids in their area.

As a note, there are only 10% of the spaces in Bullis Charter reserved for the old Bullis Purissima School attendance area before LASD closed it. Since new kids only come in at the K level, that's 10% of 105 kids that have preference for admission. After next year, there are no preferences for any area, nor can there ever be again. The preference feature was triggered by the School closure and resulting founding of a charter school. Even at the beginning it was only 50% of the spaces, and quickly as Bullis Charter grew, the LAH component dropped way below that.

15 people like this
Posted by @Steve Nelson
a resident of another community
on Jan 18, 2018 at 4:09 pm

Springer Elementary School is in LASD. It is in Mountain View. It has an oddly drawn attendance area which is mostly all in Mountain View even though some of the kids are closer to Almond Elementary. It's long and skinny, with the school at one end. It's about 500 kids.

You know a better question is why the MV city council thinks there's any room left for a "large" park when you take 8.5 acres of land and build for 900 kids. All the space will be GONE. Just look at Castro+Mistral. That's a bigger parcel of land, so that size of park is all you will ever get on this proposed new school site. MVWSD is spending $45 Million to add a 2nd school building set onto that site. LASD is talking about $50 Million but they claim they can house Bullis Charter with 1000 kids. What will it be, all portables?

10 people like this
Posted by Speaking of Parks
a resident of another community
on Jan 18, 2018 at 4:21 pm

It's been mentioned before, but it's worth noting where Bullis would be coming from if relocated to this new land the district wants to condemn and take over. They are in 2 locations, and the district wants to combine them. They are on 8 acres of land between the football field/track and San Antonio Road on W. Portola Avenue. It's about 1/2 mile away from the new site. The land before 2000 was just a buffer zone to keep traffic noise away from Egan Jr High. There's also one baseball field on it and also a parking lot for the Los Altos city Gym on the Egan site. LASD always felt that this area was best left as a buffer. The neighbors valued it as open space where they could walk their dogs. Thank you Mountain View for giving this open space back to Los Altos. It was sorely needed.

26 people like this
Posted by Diablo
a resident of Monta Loma
on Jan 18, 2018 at 4:48 pm

stupid, stupid, stupid!!! ... so frustrated with this council! Didn’t they realize they have the $$ and corresponding power to affect the future of that site! Why are we subsidizing this - for a city that has no desire to densify - with dollars, and accepting more commercial development in our city (which requires more housing to balance!), when we are not dictating terms?

48 people like this
Posted by Demand more and better
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Jan 18, 2018 at 5:19 pm

My off the cuff reply would be that not enough public input was received early on in the process -- during the study session -- when the whole TDR scheme was first brought forth as a way to facilitate the deal. Secondarily, perhaps council believes they are serving the "greater good" with their decision on Tuesday however, something that is going to have this large an impact on all Mountain View residents - forever - should have received substantial public notification and ability to give input prior to committing to any deals.

Mountain View residents have every right to not only "have a seat at the table" in the decision making process which involves $23 million of taxpayer dollars, the giveaway in the TDR's which includes removing ALL FUTURE REQUIREMENTS OF PUBLIC BENEFITS on any of those development sites. The TDRs alone are worth an estimated $80 million dollars. The combined loss of public benefits on those sites is estimated at well over $12 million dollars. Look at the gatekeeper requests for the TDR sites, several are seeking multiple variances, including allowing additional height (from the allowed six to eight stories in height for one development in the San Antonio Precise Plan area) reduced setbacks, bonus FAR, removing retail and HOUSING requirements. All with no additional requirements for ANY public benefit for the residents of Mountain view from ANY of these developments. NOTHING.

The impact of these developments will be felt by ALL Mountain View residents -- it's MORE commercial development, with NO public benefits required, traded for NO guarantee of a neighborhood school in the San Antonio Precise Plan Area.

Mountain View Residents are should be paying attention, because this is NOT a good deal.

30 people like this
Posted by Love my City
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jan 18, 2018 at 5:56 pm

Dear Demand More and Better,

BRAVO!! Well said. I would also add that this whole mess is happening to MV residents because our planning department did not account for the schools needed to accommodate all the housing recently built. The high density housing and office spaces that Los Altos won't build . So, our Council is willing to hand over $23M of our Park Funds , that we sorely need ourselves, to Los Altos because they waited too long to secure land for schools and MV doesn't know how to plan? HIRE AN URBAN PLANNER NOW!!! This is insanity.

7 people like this
Posted by Gary
a resident of Sylvan Park
on Jan 18, 2018 at 6:52 pm

Gary is a registered user.

One correction to my observation about LASD schools being in Los Altos and an update: Springer School is in Mountain View. And Bullis in Los Altos Hills was re-opened but only as a small school.

17 people like this
Posted by Wondering
a resident of another community
on Jan 18, 2018 at 9:12 pm

I'm just curious - what does BCS think about being relocated to another city, on a small lot, on a busy intersection where the majority of their students will have to commute long distances to school, creating pollution and traffic congestion? I smell a huge, expensive legal battle coming for Los Altos taxpayers. Isn't it time to overthrow the LASD board of directors? They've proven themselves grossly incompetent and dishonest in that there is zero transparency in their dealings. A little 5-person autocracy in Los Altos...

21 people like this
Posted by What???
a resident of Monta Loma
on Jan 18, 2018 at 9:49 pm

"Councilman John McAlister said the council is ill-suited to make a decision on how best to educate children, and that school district officials should be allowed to decide what to do with the land."

I think this council is ill-suited to make any decision that benefits their own constituents. How do they think this helps anything? Yeah, let's add housing and not add another MV school (East Bayshore) and let's also give away our land to a school that MV residents won't be able to attend.

11 people like this
Posted by Seat at the Table
a resident of another community
on Jan 18, 2018 at 11:04 pm

If LASD builds a school for 1000 students on this site, it will be more than double land density as compared to any existing LASD elementary school or even Junior High School if the charter school is removed from the Junior High Properties.

So, I hope this transparent process considers this. It's not just a question of having the district-wide school on the site. It's also a question of having that be the ONE site with this DOUBLE DENSITY configuration among the LASD schools.

Constructing like this will have long term ramifications for Mountain View residents of LASD, because if that school is eventually turned into a neighborhood school in 5 years or whenever, those kids will still have that double density set up. All the FREE LAND that the city contributed will mean that LASD will squeeze twice as many kids on that site compared to all the schools in Los Altos.

25 people like this
Posted by Concerned citizen
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jan 19, 2018 at 12:22 am

What a terrible decision!

City in lieu park fees are collected to offset the unhealthy effects of dense development on Mountain View residents. Our city code says we can only spend these fees on mini, community or neighborhood parks, recreational facilities or trails. Nowhere in the code does it say we can spend it on a school site. Is this even legal?

There's good reason schools aren't on the list of permitted sites to get park in lieu fee funds. School play yards are not accessible to MV residents most of the day. School sites are designed to meet the needs of school children, not the recreational needs of city residents of all ages. And this is a small school site. It may end up mostly covered with buildings, parking and blacktop, with little green space at all!

Yet we give away $23 million in park fees to buy a school instead of creating parks to serve our recreational and open space needs as our city grows. This is a sign of how bad development has gotten in this city.

I know the council is talking about a big business tax and that big businesses here can well afford it. I hope we learn from this disaster. The city has plans for a lot more housing but not for the infrastructure - parks, schools, police, neighborhood-serving retail, etc. - we need to serve families moving into that housing. Please make that business tax big enough and broad enough to meet our infrastructural needs as we grow. No short changing our parks and public spaces, PLEASE.

Thank you Margaret and Pat for trying to talk some sense to the rest of council.

10 people like this
Posted by celiacai
a resident of The Crossings
on Jan 19, 2018 at 11:20 am

I agree building a neighborhood school on the site is a good idea.

But as a resident in the San Antonio area, I am equally happy if the district choose to put Bullis there. It is a great school. A lot of kids living in the area actually go to Bullis.

14 people like this
Posted by Growth
a resident of another community
on Jan 19, 2018 at 11:34 am

Another reason LASD has for put BCS on that small site (for 1000 students, it's small), is that BCS is growing. Every year they have way more kids seeking to join them in Kindergarten, and they turn many away. They have grown to 105 students accepted each year, in response to demand. But they have more demand than this.

So the district is partly thinking that they will surely never go to 125 per grade if they are "contained" in a building where any added portables (standard LASD way to deal with growth) are taking away from the "park" space.

Hmmm. I know it's more complicated than that, but this motive on the part of the entrenched district staff should be appreciated. They have a vested interest in NOT seeing more interest in BCS result in BCS growth.

16 people like this
Posted by N
a resident of another community
on Jan 19, 2018 at 1:22 pm

It is interesting that everyone has forgotten about the language of Measure N which is funding this ridiculous purchase. "To accommodate growing student enrollment and avoid public elementary and junior high school overcrowding by expanding and upgrading schools, preserving quality small neighborhood schools, upgrading classrooms and labs to keep them safe, clean and in good repair, updating learning technology, maximizing energy efficiency and acquiring, constructing or equipping classrooms, facilities and sites, shall the Los Altos School District issue $150 million in bonds at legal rates, with independent citizens’ oversight, annual audits and no money for administrators’ salaries". How does housing BCS in Mtn View address the reasons for passing Measure N 3.5 years ago? It is doing none of those things except protecting LASD schools from the scary charter school encroaching onto their 110 acres. I am wondering why tax payers aren't concerned about handing over bond money for a purchase that has nothing to do with what they voted for.

8 people like this
Posted by Tanya
a resident of The Crossings
on Jan 19, 2018 at 1:23 pm


Interesting. I agree. Your analysis hits the nail on the head.

10 people like this
Posted by RSC
a resident of North Whisman
on Jan 19, 2018 at 2:05 pm

While the idea is good to create another school, the location is downright terrible. This intersection is the armpit of bad traffic, let alone, not a good location especially for children who may have to work to and from this location. Too many cars, not neighborhood friendly, and the location is downright commercial.

Why can't we place schools where they should be- inside a neighborhood with real houses, not those stupid overpriced high-rise looking apartment complexes that nobody can afford. I wouldn't let my kids ride their bikes in this area and just imagine the traffic that will be caused during pick-up hours.

10 people like this
Posted by Marc Shaw
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Jan 19, 2018 at 5:52 pm

Simply mind boggling, with the City Council's blessing the city of Mountain View and it's residents are going to pony up for a site for a charter school that should never have existed. Charter School laws were created to replace failing schools,mainly in the inner city and impoverished neighborhoods, a condition that never took place in Los Altos. Some smart people took advantage of the law and created a school for the rich, upper class neighborhood in Los Altos Hills, now they demand that everyone in LAUSD pay for this school. The LAUSD wants to place it at a site in Mountain View, to get them out of their hair. BTW-this is a lottery school with means that no one in the neighborhood is guaranteed placement there. The schools in MVWSD are already wildly impacted with growth, so much that people who live in a neighborhood cannot even get their kids enrolled into their local neighborhood school-what makes our city council think that handing LAUSD a school site, paid for by Mountain View residents tax monies-that our residents may or may not get to use is a good idea

6 people like this
Posted by @RSC
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Jan 19, 2018 at 8:01 pm

While I agree with you, we don’t have space anywhere in neighborhoods with homes where kids can walk and bike to school. We don’t make them anymore. Instead MV makes high rises EVERYWHERE. That still aren’t open (San Antonio center). I wish we had more homes for people to buy in said neighborhoods and not just rentals. Other than that, I can’t think of a neighborhood in Los Altos or MV where they could put a new school.

20 people like this
Posted by Horrible decision
a resident of Rex Manor
on Jan 19, 2018 at 10:41 pm

I can't think of any more solid proof that this city council needs to go. We are building like crazy, adding 10,000 housing units to north bay, our very own MVWSD, so under funded compared to LASD, is telling our city leaders they will need land and money for more schools, and instead we give that away to Los Altos and don't even ask that they use it for Mountain View kids?! What are we doing? Abe-Koga and Showater can stay, they seem to care about MV residents, the rest of you can leave.

4 people like this
Posted by love my city
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jan 21, 2018 at 10:44 am

Dear @RSC,
As I read all these comments it is abundantly clear that what our city must insist upon NOW, is to hire an URBAN PLANNER! No land available to build a school? Really? How is it logical to allow the over-building of offices with inadequate housing, schools and infrastructure?? This is clearly incompetence. What surprises me is that MV residents are not picketing City Hall....

12 people like this
Posted by Juan
a resident of Rengstorff Park
on Jan 21, 2018 at 12:46 pm

Juan is a registered user.

This is literally a brand new school for rich residents of Los Altos Hills in the middle of Mountain View. Meanwhile Mountain View kids have to go to school 2+ miles away. What is the city council thinking? This is BAD for Mountain View, bad for residents. If they won't say "no" to this project then what will they say "no" to?

10 people like this
Posted by NIMBY LASD board majority
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jan 21, 2018 at 1:27 pm

If you look over the LASD/Los Altos City disagreements and fights over sharing property in Los Altos, between public agencies you see:

A three person majority of the current LASD board are Covington school neighbors, and they will absolutely not agree or even negotiate using that very large district site (16 AC?) for anything other then their own local school. PERIOD. Certainly no Charter School on current LASD property.

MV Council majority - you just got played dumbells!

15 people like this
Posted by Local School
a resident of another community
on Jan 21, 2018 at 2:13 pm

If you look at this area, I think you'll find oddly that the majority (though not unanimous) of those in The Crossings and Old Mill Condos prefer the status quo of attending school 3 miles away in Los Altos. After all, they get a 22 acre park like setting with only 550 kids, after school program, 2 preschools, and almost all permanent construction classrooms. This is by far the best treated school of all the LASD elementary schools. So in effect, this group is BRIBED not to want a normal neighborhood school. But they do want a school to be there, because it stops a 5 story apartment complex from materializing next to their homes.

Now, there are 2 other groups in the area which go to 2 different schools in Los Altos. I think either of these groups is likely to prefer by a majority a local school compared to traipsing into Los Altos each day. Those schools aren't so special compared to Covington.

In Santa Rita, the population at the school is an economic mx even without the Mountain View kids. It's 11.5 acres and used to be a rich school. But LASD vectored off the richest families and sends them now to Gardner Bullis Los Altos Hills. Some of the most nearly middle class housing in LASD lies in the area of Los Altos north of Egan School, but south of El Camino Real. These kids attend Santa Rita. So the apartment kids from Del Medio Ave (north of El Camino Real and West of San Antonio) would also just as soon go to a school on their side of El Camino Real. That area is a lot of kids. However, it's soon to be gentrified with more expensive apartments and over time, this preference might vary. Still, they'd be in for a neighborhood school, on California Avenue somewhere.

In the case of Almond School, there is the most planned future growth. It covers the San Antonio East planning area which will get 2500 new apartments. But right now there are a lot of apartments on California Avenue and Ortega and Latham and El Camino Real that all attend Almond. Again it's a lot of kids. I think these kids would also be in favor of a neighborhood school.

Now in the case of all these people, the only vocal ones are the few who live in The Crossings. They are the only area represented by THe Greater San Antonio Neighborhood Association. They are screaming at the city council that they don't care if it's a neighborhood school or not. They have been BRIBED. Be careful in checking the sentiments of the affected kids. Most of the OWNERSHIP housing is in The Crossings Old Mill Condos and they like Covington. But they are only 1/3 of the current population. Also, they have NONE of the future growth population which motivates the neighborhood school in the first place.

6 people like this
Posted by Crossings resident
a resident of The Crossings
on Jan 21, 2018 at 3:26 pm

Nancy Morimoto's (member of 10th site committee) email to the Greater San Antonio email group prior to the City Council meeting. No bias here or anything.
"I’ve been getting requests from school district officials for lots of San Antonio folks to write asap and for some to speak at the Tuesday Jan. 16th council meeting in favor of creating any public school and park by approving the transfer of development rights without any “strings attached.” Please stress the need for the district to be flexible in its decision making about what to put there, and to make sure we are clear that any kind of school is fine, as long as the project goes forward. There have been others pressuring the council members to demand that this be approved only on the condition that it start out as a neighborhood school (and a few council members have been inclined this way already.) Another point you can make is that a specific site purchase is not finalized and the actual site size needs to be known before the best decision can be made. No matter your personal preference, please request that the council leave this decision in the hands of the district board of trustees (and feel free to let the district know if you feel strongly one way or the other about what type of school.) However, there’s a chance tying the hands of the district could scuttle the whole project, and that would be a huge shame!"

11 people like this
Posted by Charles
a resident of The Crossings
on Jan 21, 2018 at 6:57 pm

@Local School.

Great observation and summary.

And like I said above, the Greater San Antonio Neighborhood Association is not a neighborhood association in any sense of the term. It's pure manipulation. It's a cabal of pure self interests with a strong link to Bullis. It's run by Stephen Friberg, the one and only President / Dictator, and Nancy Morimoto, the communications commissar. As I said before, elections are not held. Meeting are not held. They are in violation of their Bylaws. The two of them speak for the neighborhood and that's about it. There is no way to participate in the association. Very non-democratic and non-grassroots. And yet the city cuts this so-called neighborhood association with no questions asked. And the city council fawns over them as if they are truly elected representatives of the neighborhood. And no one asks any questions. Pathetic. Shame on the both of them.

6 people like this
Posted by San Antonio Resident
a resident of The Crossings
on Jan 21, 2018 at 11:11 pm

San Antonio Resident is a registered user.

What a horrible place to put an elementary school. It's bad for the students because of all the traffic; it won't be long before we start seeing kids get hit by all the trucks on San Antonio. However, it's even worse for urban planning. This site is just steps away from San Antonio Caltrain Station; this spot is made for a transit-focused residential community to open, not for an elementary school that will only generate even more traffic in an already congested area. Better places for a school within the San Antonio area would be off Del Medio or in the quieter areas just south of El Camino.

3 people like this
Posted by ResidentSince1982
a resident of another community
on Feb 1, 2018 at 11:44 pm

ResidentSince1982 is a registered user.

Put this on the other story, but it seems like it belongs on this one too, for the record as it were.

Here's the thing. LASD has been futzing around with the kids North of El Camino for 20 years now. Back in 2007, they came up with this then-new split to send 1/3 of them to Covington, instead of just splitting them between Almond and Santa Rita. Here's a Voice article that documents this deliberation at the time:
Web Link
The real story is well portrayed by an 11 year old archive entry of a Voice article seen through the lens of today.

So, after 10 years, they are still planning to go on with this split, because it's not time yet to open a neighborhood school there. For how much longer?

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