LASD's new Mountain View school won't open until 2025 | News | Mountain View Online |


LASD's new Mountain View school won't open until 2025

Further delays expected if school board cannot decide on use of future campus

Los Altos School District's new Mountain View school won't open until 2025. It's the latest in a series of delays caused by lengthy real estate negotiations and ever-evolving plans to build a 10th school site in the center of one of the city's fastest growing neighborhoods.

If the school is built in 2025 -- and that's contingent on a number of things going right -- it would open its doors 11 years after voters approved Measure N, a $150 million bond advertised as a way to finance new school construction. Putting that into context, children born the year Measure N passed may be too old to attend a new elementary school built with bond funds.

The district recently purchased 11.6 acres of land at the corner of California Street and Showers Drive in the San Antonio shopping center area of Mountain View, currently home to commercial tenants, with plans to raze the buildings and build a school on the site. Shortly after district officials announced the bid to buy the land from real estate giant Federal Realty in 2018, the hope was that the school could be built by fall 2021.

But the latest update, presented at the Jan. 13 Los Altos school board meeting, says designing the school and getting approval by state regulators could take until the end of 2022, as will the district's complicated financing scheme for buying the land and building the school. Construction is tentatively scheduled to begin in 2023 and last through 2024, with the outdoor play space available to the public by summer 2024.

School board members and the district's top staff have long argued that delays in spending Measure N funds -- now spanning more than a decade -- are a testament to just how challenging it was to find a suitable site for a school in a rapidly changing and expensive real estate market. The goal of putting a school within or close to the San Antonio neighborhood of Mountain View, where enrollment is expected to surge in the coming years, only added to the difficulty.

Board president Bryan Johnson told the Voice that finding a suitable property for a new school has been more complicated and taken longer than anyone anticipated, and that only in the last three years did the site search and negotiations with property owners really begin in earnest. The district's committee in charge of finding viable real estate for the school considered nearly every large property north of El Camino Real, including the Target on Showers Drive and the shopping center on the west side of San Antonio Road, currently home to a CVS Pharmacy and Sprouts market.

The district eventually settled on buying land at the northeast corner of the San Antonio shopping center, which includes the JoAnn fabrics store, Kohl's, 24 Hour Fitness and several other smaller tenants. The businesses have leases that will allow them to stay until December 2022, at which point the buildings will be shuttered for demolition. Assuming none of the tenants leave early, the district will receive about $2.5 million each year in rental income.

Despite the delays, Johnson said he believes the district made the right decision in seeking to build a 10th school site in the San Antonio neighborhood, which is the center of rapid infill development and housing growth. The area of the city is currently split between three schools that are all south of El Camino Real.

"I think the 10th site and the park are going to be the jewel of the neighborhood," Johnson said.

Despite what appears to be a sluggish timeline, the Los Altos School District has a daunting schedule for the first half of 2020. Between January and June, trustees are expected to decide what kind of school should go on the Mountain View site, which could be a brand new elementary school, a relocated existing school or a charter school with an enrollment preference for students living in the San Antonio area.

Linked to that major decision is where to put Bullis Charter School, which has grown beyond 1,000 students and is currently housed in portable classrooms across two school sites, Egan Junior High and Blach Intermediate schools. A pitch to move Egan Junior High to Mountain View and cede the school's old facilities to Bullis was met with fiery opposition in April last year, but the board has yet to formally retract the idea or propose an alternative.

A less pressing decision, but one that will affect how the future Mountain View school will be designed, is whether the school district should switch to a middle school model, shifting sixth grade students from elementary schools to Egan and Blach. State data shows there are only 50 public junior high schools in the state, compared with nearly 1,300 middle schools, making Los Altos a rare exception in the Bay Area. Conversion to the middle-school model has been discussed for years, with an eye toward purported academic benefits for sixth grade students, but it would also have far-reaching effects on enrollment across the district's nine schools.

All of these decisions are "intertwined" and have to be decided in the coming months if the school district sticks with the proposed 2025 timeline, Assistant Superintendent Randy Kenyon told the board at its meeting Monday. In particular, it assumes that the board makes a final decision on what kind of school should be built at the Mountain View site before the end of 2020, which kicks off the design and lengthy state approval processes, which will extend through 2022.

The hope is that, in the coming months, the school board will winnow down the options on who will attend the new school and come up with a final decision in June.

What is democracy worth to you?
Support local journalism.


31 people like this
Posted by Neighborhood School Proponent
a resident of another community
on Jan 17, 2020 at 11:38 am

The only thing that makes sense for the San Antonio school is to make it a neighborhood school. Designating it for Bullis would mean that

1. 800+ Bullis students (residing in Los Altos) would have to cross El Camino (towards 101).
2. 500+ Mountain View residents would have to cross El Camino in the other direction (away from 101) to go to schools in Los Altos.

On the other hand, designating San Antonio school as a neighborhood school would mean that
1. 200 Bullis students residing in Mountain View would have to cross El Camino (away from 101) to go to Bullis school located in Los Altos.

So, designating the new school as a neighborhood school would reduce the number of students having to cross El Camino by 1100.

It's much safer for the students and much better for San Antonio residents to have less traffic.

12 people like this
Posted by Expect Further Delays
a resident of another community
on Jan 17, 2020 at 2:45 pm

[Portion removed due to disrespectful comment or offensive language]
don't have what it takes to get a school built. Nor do they really have any urgency or desire to do so. They will sit back and cash their rent checks from Kohl's and the other businesses for as long as they can. All of the current trustees will be long gone before construction even begins. So what do they care?

12 people like this
Posted by Politics
a resident of The Crossings
on Jan 17, 2020 at 4:07 pm

LASD is again caught between a rock and a hard place.

Their loudest political faction has been campaigning to force BCS to the Kohl's site with an enrollment cap of 900.

BCS said they want to continue serving the entire district from 1 central-ish location or maybe 2, so thanks but no thanks to the Kohl's site.

My money is on stalemate, no public school goes there this decade.

29 people like this
Posted by SLB
a resident of Rex Manor
on Jan 17, 2020 at 4:39 pm

I wonder why they are picking this site for elementary school. Horrible traffic, retail parking lots. Seems pretty dumb to me. Kids probably won’t walk to the school and and parents will be clogging up California Ave and San Antonio Road. As though traffic weren’t clogged enough.....

I’m sorry about loss of retail and 24 Hour Fitness.

26 people like this
Posted by Los Altos Observer
a resident of another community
on Jan 17, 2020 at 5:59 pm

Eleven YEARS before students benefit from the parcel tax?! LASD's lack of strategic direction is absolutely appalling! Trustees have spent years "undecided" about moving to a 6-8 middle school model, existing schools need significant upgrades, district enrollment has declined by hundreds of students all while the question of where to house BCS remains unsolved. Why doesn't our community expect better leadership from our trustees? In purchasing the 10th site, they have created another expensive headache instead of solving any existing problems.

9 people like this
Posted by Not going to point
a resident of Bailey Park
on Jan 17, 2020 at 9:08 pm

Not going to point fingers or anything, but it's not like LASD had free rein and unlimited money to get this done. Lots of hurdles and many naysayers and whiners throwing up road blocks (present company maybe excluded)

19 people like this
Posted by New Bullis
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Jan 18, 2020 at 5:35 am

Perfect for Bullis. Now that they aren't allowed to preference certain people's kids (wink wink)the location demographics will be evening out.
This is a good central location for Bullis, but it being Bullis, I'm sure there will be fights about it.

18 people like this
Posted by Random Public Lottery
a resident of The Crossings
on Jan 18, 2020 at 10:10 am

BCS is running their admission lottery this morning 1/18 at 11AM. It's open to the public - BCS (North) Multi-Purpose Room, 102 W Portola Ave.

See with your own eyes whether BCS cherry-picks admissions.

11 people like this
Posted by Random Public Naïveté
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jan 18, 2020 at 10:34 am

What you will never ever see in the public lottery process is how charter schools actively manage who ENTERS the lottery, through clear signaling about which students “would be a good fit” within the culture

25 people like this
Posted by So what
a resident of another community
on Jan 18, 2020 at 3:12 pm

No problem. Enrollment has been declining. The district is in denial. They could have seen that they did not need an added school site back in 2014. It has only become more clear.

Then there is this idea that the charter school gets the site. I guess that could be why they waited so long to spend, so that the construction funds get used up faster. They were always estimating $30 Million to build a new school and now they admit it will be more like $80 Million not counting land, but even that amount will go up further over the next 3 years.

In computer language there is an operation known as a no-op. This has been a great big giant No-Op.

Just please make sure not to give LASD any more funds to mess around with. It's pretty much profane what they do with money.

14 people like this
Posted by @Neighborhood School Proponent
a resident of another community
on Jan 18, 2020 at 3:22 pm

Your numbers are way off! Currently there are 800 Mountain View students crossing El Camino Real to go to school in Los Altos. There are over 1000 students at Bullis, and 200+ come from Mountain View, but half of these are from other areas of the city. So you have count in 900+ students crossing El Camino Real to get to school if Bullis were located on California Street, around 800 from Los ALtos and 100 people from distant parts of Mountain View.

You reduce the impact if you pretend there are only 500 kids now crossing El Camino Real from the subject area when it is actually 800 currently. However, that number is rising as new housing units are added to that area. It's the only area of LASD experiencing growth. In fact, all other areas of LASD are experience notable 10-20% shrinkage from what they had just 5 or 6 years ago. This is not due to the charter, it's due to population changes.

Put it another way, living in the area on both sides of San Antonio Road but in Moutain View (or Palo Alto), are about 15% of LASD's overall population. In 5 years it will be around 25% of the total LASD population.

To the person wondering why LASD would ever open a school there, do you realize that there will be 25% of LASD students living in that neighborhood by the time a school can open? Are you seriously saying that 25% of the LASD resident students should NOT have a neighborhood school because you don't LIKE where they make their homes??????

10 people like this
Posted by @Neighborhood School Proponent
a resident of another community
on Jan 18, 2020 at 3:38 pm

One thing that's interesting is that with the data coming in from this year and the next 2 years, this population shift is going to be more and more hard to bury. LASD has been holding heads in the sand to pretend this isn't reality. The reality is going to flood down into the sand and drown them eventually. Over the next 2 years the sand is going to be very very soggy with hard to deny facts, at the very least. So they can mess around with fake plans now, but in 2 years time or certainly in 3 years when they can break ground, they are going to be very obviously making a big mistake if the continue to hope that a charter school will come along and locate on their new site. It just ain't going to work!

THen they'll be all like "Wow, who would have thought things would turn out like this?"

6 people like this
Posted by Clarification
a resident of another community
on Jan 19, 2020 at 10:45 am

The Charter Schools preference to the Purissima area (Los Altos Hills and the part of Los Altos assigned to Gardner Bullis) is indeed intact again. It’s on their website.

Their lottery is “open” but only about 65% of it. The other 35% is directly from LAH.

15 people like this
Posted by Neighborhood School Proponent
a resident of another community
on Jan 19, 2020 at 11:31 am


The LAH preference is NOT back. Please stop spreading lies. I just checked. Here's the link: Web Link

I am really appalled at how the anti-Bullis folks keep on spreading lies.

@New Bullis says that the San Antonio school is a good central location for Bullis. Huh?!!! Does he/she know how to read a map? The new school is located at the edge of LASD.

LASD Trustees have made a mess in Los Altos:

* 6th graders are forced to go to elementary school even though 96% of 6th graders in CA go to junior high

* Crossings residents in MV have to commute one-way by car to Covington

* tiny schools with only 2-classes per grade are kept open

Looking at the anti-Bullis comments above, these people are now out to make a mess of Mountain View. We've been going shopping at San Antonio for decades. We are very disappointed that much of it will be gone.

To make matters worse, if LASD has their way, the San Antonio area residents will be driving to schools in Los Altos, and Los Altos residents that go to Bullis will be driving to school in Mountain View. Both of them will have to cross El Camino, but in opposite directions. This makes no sense and will make traffic much worse and adversely impact the quality of life of the San Antonio residents.

4 people like this
Posted by Neighborhood School Proponent
a resident of another community
on Jan 19, 2020 at 11:44 am

I meant to say "Crossings residents in MV have to commute 15 minutes (3.3 miles) one-way by car to Covington, even though Santa Rita (1.7 miles) and Almond (2.3 miles) are both closer."

10 people like this
Posted by "Clarification" is misinformation
a resident of The Crossings
on Jan 19, 2020 at 11:53 am

False. No such preference applies.

Poster has mischaracterized an old preference that has zero effect today. It exists only technically and unfortunately has unclear wording that makes it look like more than it is.

At the BCS lottery yesterday, the actual preferences (siblings etc) were posted in multiple locations and did not have anything like a Purissima preference. For any who doubt, ask the BCS admissions office or other school official.

Unfortunately some BCS opponents have no scruples when it comes to badmouthing BCS and playing the gossip game. Same tactics and ethics as Trump and Putin.

5 people like this
Posted by lost faith in BCS
a resident of North Bayshore
on Jan 19, 2020 at 12:59 pm

I was a proponent of BCS instructional innovations until they tried to restore their Los Altos Hills enrollment boundary.
Their attempt to do that made me lose all faith in BCS commitment to diversity and equity. More info: Web Link

4 people like this
Posted by Clarification
a resident of another community
on Jan 19, 2020 at 1:57 pm

Ummm, comparing me to Trump and Putin yet saying I’m badmouthing? Nice.

So if the preference isn’t CURRENT for this ONE YEAR (the only reason it wasn’t last year is because it was let of a deal with LASD), you better believe it will be back. See link above by Lost Faith. I’m not “spreading rumors”. I’m speaking truth.

Joe Hurd CAME to our (lasd) school. I appreciated that. When he stated he didn’t want his school at the 10th site and “couldn’t because you need a neighborhood preference to be there”, I posed a question. It was, “would you consider a neighborhood preference in the NEC area?” The answer was “maybe, it’s something we’ve not considered”. Wonder why. This is all on video.

Then He was asked about the Purissima preference. He stated that he prefers it “because it is how our school started and it remains true to our roots”. Now if that makes sense to you, then so be it. It doesn’t to me.

6 people like this
Posted by "Clarification" is misinformation
a resident of The Crossings
on Jan 19, 2020 at 4:24 pm

No, Sangeeth, I didn't compare you to Trump and Putin. I was talking about some people who badmouth and play the gossip game. Whether you count yourself in that group is your business.

So after those falsehoods about a Purissima preference being, present tense, "intact" - "it's on their website" - "35% are directly from LAH" ... We should now believe you that it's "coming back," "speaking truth" this time. Uh, no. We're not that dumb. Unless an actual student gets an actual preference this all a lot of hot air.

Now riddle me this. All of you who are pushing to stop an LASD neighborhood school being (in a whisper) North of El Camino. Is that elitism? Worse than elitism? Because those 'isms are obviously the reason unless proven otherwise.

Yeah that was sarcasm. Of course it's silly to assume the worst reasons why people make their choices.

6 people like this
Posted by Clearly Muddy
a resident of another community
on Jan 19, 2020 at 10:35 pm

The preference such as it was applied to the area served by a school that LASD closed in 2003, called Bullis Purissima. Closing that school was the impetus for the formation of the charter. However it NEVER served the entirety of Los Altos Hills. It served maybe 1/3 of Los Altos Hills and always served parts of Los Altos.

When LAST saw how successful the charter was back in 2008, it reopened the closed school. Previously they had said it was impossible to fix that school up again for classes. It was on a bad topology they could not afford to use. Liars.

The kids from LAH had partly been assigned to Covington. When the reopened what was renamed Gardner Bullis, no LAH was assigned to Covington anymore. But it was always a smaller school than others, and the total had been 350 or so kids. Now with the charter school open and thriving, maybe half of the kids were at the charter, so they didn't have enough kids to operate Gardner Bullis. That's when they expanded the attendance area of Gardner Bullis to cover more of Los ALtos than before. That expanded area never participated in any enrollment priority at the charter school.

In the attendance area has had a bit of a preference, half of the kids continue to go to Gardner Bullis. Other kids go to GB too, to fill it up to 300 kids. Also, they allow kids living in the PAUSD part of Los Altos Hills to go to Gardner Bullis, because its closer to their homes than Stanford and PAUSD agreed to pay. Maybe 25 from that area go to GB too.

So from that entire area in K-6 maybe 100-150 kids go to the Charter. The charter now has over 1000 kids. So don't make up stories about 35% of charter kids being from the preference area. LASD keeps the charter from expanding, but it is trying to serve everyone from the entire district who wants to attend Bullis Charter. The preference seems to be a hedge against LASD working a deal to curtail Bullis serving everyone. With Bullis being open to all, the charter doesn't need any preference area. LASD Bad Mouths Bullis all over the place and works ardently to discourage anyone from applying. They put up signs all over saying :WE LOVE OUR NEIGHBORHOOD SCHOOL <insert Name>: They are constantly digging at Bullis for serving kids from multiple neighborhoods. The story doesn't go over very well with the large number (e.g. >50%) of LASD kids who live NO WHERE NEAR ANY SCHOOL. LASD is actually doing psychic damage to their own kids who don't have a neighborhood school, including the kids living near this new school they drag their feet about opening.

7 people like this
Posted by Clearly Muddy
a resident of another community
on Jan 19, 2020 at 10:39 pm

New Slogan

"LASD-- We lover our neighborhood schools but it's not reasonable to expect every LASD kid to go to one. Get used to it."

6 people like this
Posted by t
a resident of North Whisman
on Jan 20, 2020 at 5:14 am

M.V. is so fickle (my life-long home and home town). We had plenty of schools before. Then they close several clasiming the population is aging and sell the land like the former school at California and Ortega, sell the schools to private owners like Whisman Elementary (my grade school)or lease it for many years to businesses like Google for adult ed and day-care, not showing the foresight of the fact that populations grow. Now they find themselves with a growing population and not enough schools.

So now our remaining precious grassy playing fields are being shrunk to fit more school buildings, and the L.A. School district takes away even more land. We already lost our last mall in the San Antonio shopping center to Walmart a couple of decades ago. Goodby to our last department store now.

The foolishness has been interesting to watch. Unfortunate that it's so depressing too.

3 people like this
Posted by t-otally confused
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jan 21, 2020 at 10:10 pm

@t: if you’re unhappy that buildings are being built that cover up green space, then you should be so happy that much of Kohl’s property will soon become green space. Also, LASD serves a large slice of Mt View, so if it’s the City of Mt View you love, you should be so happy that LASD is building a school and community park in your city

5 people like this
Posted by New MV City Councilmembers
a resident of Sylvan Park
on Jan 22, 2020 at 12:25 am

The plan may be to elect Mountain View City Councilmembers who will go back to allowing the Los Altos School Board to use the site to exile Bullis Charter from Los Altos. Anyone who runs for MV City Council should be asked where he or she stands on such a change to the current MOU that bars using the site for any school that does not give enrollment preference to the local Mountain View neighborhood. And watch out for politicians that lie to get elected.

6 people like this
Posted by LongResident
a resident of another community
on Jan 23, 2020 at 4:04 pm

I don't think they think they need to turn over city council members to have their way. LASD is very arrogant in their treatment of Mountain View.

Regarding use of this proposed new site, the characteristic above all is that it gives LASD too many sites. They don't need another one except to serve the local area more locally. They lied to the Mountain View City Council over and over again and indicated they wanted to serve residents of that area with a neighborhood elementary school. It appears that was never true. Recently they did facilities polling via structured engagements of residents across the district. THEY DID NOT EVEN LIST OPENING A LOCAL NEIGHBORHOOD SCHOOL AT THAT SITE AS AN OPTION!!!!!!

The problem all along has been that the area in question already has too many students for a single elementary school, which LASD has repeatedly ignored. Moreover, they expect the shift in population to continue such that the area has almost enough elementary kids for TWO elementary schools.

In their twisted logic, this translates into NO LOCAL SCHOOL for any of these kids, though it would be possible to serve a large portion of the area witha Local school and continue the current gerrymandering to divert the remainder to the current distant school in LOS ALTOS to which they have gone over the last 10 years.

The site is slightly smaller than every other LASD School, since it is below 10 acres which all the other schools have at a miniumum. Covington of course has 20 or so acres right there and only serves 500 or so kids, of whom 1/3 come from the area of Mountain View where a new school could be opened. Bullis currently shares pieces of the 2 Jr High sites, which are just under 20 acres each.

So one option they did list as a serious possibility would be somehow serve BOTH the ENTIRE local area with a school AND serve 900 or more Bullis students all on the 9.65 acre site. Not surprisingly this idea didn't receive overwhelming support, because it makes almost no sense.

Still, look for LASD to try to say that there is overwhelming support among all the Los Altos residents (75% of their survey, though only 60% of district kids come from LOS ALTOS) for the idea of dedicating the new site to house the charter school. They don't seem to care about the local Mountain View kids.

Like this comment
Posted by Steven Nelson
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jan 27, 2020 at 1:05 pm

The LASD governing board, does not get the idea that they are restricted, in a development agreement (may be just a Memorandum?) from putting the Charter School in the San Antonio site. The Mayor of Mountain View, good old MAK, sure understood the dynamics of LASD - the LOS ALTOS 'contingent'.

So ... this (neighborhood school development agreement w/ TDRs) will be fought out, in the MV City Council, for the next several years.

NEC Los Altos School District voters - be very, very careful what questions you ask of MV city council candidates, and Who You Vote for. LOS ALTOS has no vote, in our Mountain View council races (thank g..).

Don't miss out on the discussion!
Sign up to be notified of new comments on this topic.


To post your comment, please login or register at the top of the page. This topic is only for those who have signed up to participate by providing their email address and establishing a screen name.

All your news. All in one place. Every day.

Umami Burger calls it quits in downtown Palo Alto
By Elena Kadvany | 14 comments | 7,704 views

Clouds of Uncertainty
By Sherry Listgarten | 13 comments | 2,898 views

Please Apply So We Can Reject You!
By John Raftrey and Lori McCormick | 6 comments | 2,480 views

Chocolate – I Love Thee. Let Me Count The Ways.
By Laura Stec | 3 comments | 1,666 views

Couples and Premarital : "Who we are . . . depends in part . . . on who we love."
By Chandrama Anderson | 0 comments | 1,310 views