Our community can explore existing land and new land solutions simultaneously. In fact, it is the only responsible thing to do. The prudent use of taxpayer funds depends upon comparing the merits of the best options for both.
The need for a tenth school sooner rather than later also means we should be examining all feasible options now. Many high-quality nearby schools house students on less land per student. Freeing up existing LASD land through two-story state-of-the-art modernization can provide room for other creative community benefits such as more recreational areas residents can use after school hours.
Many assume that adding a tenth school adjacent to an existing school at a large LASD site will negatively impact students already on that site. In fact, their educational experience will be enhanced with the right solution. Well-designed multistory buildings for both schools can provide students with more and better space, updated with many of the technological and seismic improvements already on the Measure N wish list.
Instead of spending critical dollars on the purchase of a large new site, we can provide major community benefits at much lower cost by augmenting an existing site through strategic land swaps, modest purchases of adjacent land, or easements. Importantly, these solutions will provide two completely modernized schools instead of just one, and the remaining Measure N funds only need to be spread among eight schools.
Initial criteria we propose for an existing-land solution are:
• It efficiently and cost-effectively adds state-of-the-art capacity.
• It improves educational experiences for students of both schools at the modernized site.
• It does not close any existing school or require new attendance boundaries.
• It reserves substantial Measure N funds for upgrades at the other eight schools.
• It minimizes disruption to existing students and the surrounding community.
The Los Altos school board is already exhaustively looking for the best new land option for a tenth site — we are calling for a parallel community effort to formulate the best options relying substantially on existing land.
We want a broad group of community members to help us brainstorm and refine such solutions. These solutions can then serve as a benchmark for any proposed purchase of a new site to make sure taxpayer dollars are being used wisely.
We will be reaching out to the community in the coming weeks seeking input and suggestions for existing land solutions. Every voice is needed. All we ask is that everyone be open-minded, respectful of others, and interested in solving this community problem in a way that benefits all our students.
(The above was also signed by: John Phelps, Bullis Charter School board chairman; John Radford, Los Altos Hills City Council member, former mayor; Jane B. Reed, former Los Altos mayor; John A. Reed, former Springer parent and 49-year Los Altos resident; Randy Salim and Amanda Oakson, LASD parents.)
Lou Becker is a former mayor of Los Altos, and Ginny Lear is a former LASD board president and trustee.
This story contains 585 words.
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