Report says schools out of room by 2012 | April 3, 2009 | Mountain View Voice | Mountain View Online |

Mountain View Voice

News - April 3, 2009

Report says schools out of room by 2012

Demographers tell MV Whisman board to act fast or face overcrowding

by Casey Weiss

Mountain View's elementary and middle school campuses are quickly filling up and will reach full capacity by 2012, experts told the district's board of trustees earlier this month.

Cheryl and Jamie King, a mother-daughter team of demographers, told board members that the Mountain View Whisman Elementary School District is facing higher enrollment now that more parents are keeping their children in Mountain View schools.

The Kings, giving a presentation of their study at a March 19 board meeting, said this change can be partially attributed to the district becoming more stable after the close of Slater Elementary School in 2006. More families staying in the Bay Area for high-tech jobs also helps to explain the increase in students remaining in the district.

But as schools retain more students each year, the district must plan for the future, especially since many schools already are starting to become overcrowded, the demographers said. The district currently has 4,460 students, and the study projects this number will jump to 4,903 by the 2012-13 school year. The district's current capacity is 4,830 students.

"Things are tight, so they are going to get extremely tight," Jamie King told trustees.

The study was commissioned last year after the district reached enrollment numbers not expected until 2011. The district has not had a demographic study conducted in 10 years, and administrators said they wanted an updated analysis as they plan for the future.

"We knew we had an issue because our numbers were three years ahead of the numbers in the last demographic study," said Craig Goldman, the district's chief financial officer.

A committee of administrators and an architect have been discussing a 10-year master plan for the district's facilities, which could suggest expanding schools or taking back campuses the district leases out, Goldman said. The committee will bring its proposal to the board for approval in June.

According to the recent study, the district's population is growing at a rate similar to the rest of the county, but the schools here are starting to retain more of their students, helping to explain the larger enrollment numbers.

"We are seeing an increase in the number of students who do not leave the district," Goldman said.

Migration numbers

The demographers, who work for Jack Schreder & Associates, came up with their enrollment numbers in part by looking at "migration," a term for "how many students stay in a district year to year," Cheryl King said. Traditionally, Mountain View elementary and middle schools have a "negative migration," meaning fewer students return each year.

If the district "has fewer second grade students than they did first grade students the prior year, this would indicate negative migration," the study says.

Although this negative rate still exists, the demographers explained it is starting to stabilize now, three years after the district closed Slater. The schools experienced a rise in "negative migration" from 2002 to 2005. From 2004 to 2005, the district lost 202 students. In 2007-08 this number was down to 74 students.

The increase can also be attributed to more families moving to the Bay Area. Many left Silicon Valley following the dot-com bust, Goldman said, but people are once again coming back for high-tech jobs. Many of these families are choosing to enroll and keep their children in Mountain View schools.

"Even though the economy is in decline, we are in better shape than in other parts of California. There are not a lot of greener pastures out there," he said.

He added, "It is our belief that the quality of our schools is why families are staying in our schools. I am sure there are other variables out there."

After seeing a significant increase in students last year, trustees changed district boundaries and also moved a magnet program to a new campus, all in an effort to alleviate crowding.

The so-called Facilities/Master Plan Committee is now looking at ways to further address overcrowding, and will present its findings to the board in June. The committee is focusing on population trends in specific neighborhoods, and looking at which schools have received the biggest enrollment increase.

Besides its eight schools, the district owns four additional properties, including Slater, and Goldman said the committee could consider expanding current sites or "reoccupying campuses."

"Expansion," he said, "is the reason we hold onto property."

E-mail Casey Weiss at


Posted by Ned, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Apr 2, 2009 at 5:33 pm

Here again, why is the superintendent never on record when it comes to a topic that does not shed positive light on this school district? We need some new leadership in this district fast.

Posted by Mom, a resident of Whisman Station
on Apr 3, 2009 at 11:46 am

Like we didn't see this coming when they closed Slater....

Posted by mom, a resident of Waverly Park
on Apr 7, 2009 at 3:32 pm

Who cares if the Superintendent is not on record? Maybe he is busy working.
If it was not for the leadership we currently have in this district, we would be in much worse financial shape. Just look at other districts - school libraries are closed, teachers are being laid off, more schools are being closed, class size reduction is being cancelled.
So far, this leadership has done much better than others around us.

Posted by William Joseph, a resident of Shoreline West
on Apr 8, 2009 at 1:26 am

I see no mention of the root cause of the problem, the hordes of illegal immigrants and their spawn, packed into the miles-long blocks of apartments along California Street and elsewhere.