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School district aiming to buy San Antonio property

Original post made on Apr 2, 2015

When the Los Altos School District passed a $150 million bond last year, the top "wishlist" item among district staff and the school board was a new school site north of El Camino Real. Last week marks the first clear step towards making that happen, as the district entered negotiations with the property owners at 201 San Antonio Circle to discuss purchasing the site.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Thursday, April 2, 2015, 11:49 AM

Comments (35)

Posted by Critical Thinker
a resident of another community
on Apr 2, 2015 at 1:33 pm

The site will have the same green space as currently it does. The site is filled with a 58,000 square foot 2 story building surrounding an atrium blocked off from the public. At $50 per square foot, the building currently can command about $2.9 Million per year in Class A office rent. It's not going to go cheap! The building was constructed in 1979 so it's not a tear down.


Posted by Shocked?
a resident of another community
on Apr 2, 2015 at 2:39 pm

Unbelievable. A high priced tiny 3 acre lot for a tiny school that obviously won't accommodate all the NEC kids. Even though by moving BCS to Covington and 6th graders to middle schools there would be no need for an additional school because enrollment of all elementaries would be less than 500 per school. And if an NEC school did become necessary in future there's room on the Egan campus for a second small school which would be more desirable to the NEC parents.

And then the BOD will be coming back to us for another parcel tax because the operating budget won't be large enough to operate the additional school.

And btw where are they going to locate BCS? There won't be any bond money left to create a school for them which supposedly was the whole purpose of creating a 10th school.


Posted by Neighbor
a resident of The Crossings
on Apr 2, 2015 at 2:45 pm

Is the Old Safeway going to be part of the land LASD is looking to purchase? How will they rezone the attendance? Currently, the kids from the Crossings go to Covington, will they be made to attend this new school?


Posted by Nay
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Apr 2, 2015 at 5:01 pm

Not in favor of putting a school near the Caltrain station given the history of teens and suicides on those tracks. Also, this area is very congested as it is. Why can't the Los Altos School District partner with the PAUSD and turn Cubberley Community Center back into a high school? Do vocational high schools still exist? Students in this area need more options than the "Race to Nowhere" (2010 documentary) college route.


Posted by NeHi
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Apr 2, 2015 at 8:05 pm

It might be part of courteous reporting to start with stating that part of the Los Altos school district is within Mtn. View. I had to go to Google to establish that. NOW it makes some sense.


Posted by Los Altos Resident
a resident of another community
on Apr 3, 2015 at 8:37 am

I still don't follow why parts of Mountain View are in the Los Altos school district and not Mountain View. Doesn't it seem like new district boundaries would sort out the high enrollment issues for LASD? Seems like Los Altos residents funding this additional bond shouldn't have to pay for a new school for Mountain View residents that are increasing current enrollments. What am I missing???


Posted by Half empty or half full?
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Apr 3, 2015 at 9:08 am

Geez... No matter what the district tries to do, the armchair quarterbacks rise up to criticize it. First, @Los Altos Resident & @NeHi, parts of Mountain View have *always* been in the LASD. Always. And MV residents in the district pay the same taxes to support LASD schools that Los Altos residents do. We are not getting a "free ride" by any means. Second, while the specific site mentioned in the article may not be large enough for a full size LASD school (or a BCS campus), if the district also acquired the adjacent site facing California St. and cleared that for playground space, it would be more than large enough for either option.


Posted by Garrett
a resident of another community
on Apr 3, 2015 at 12:15 pm

Parts of the Cupertino School District and Fremont High District is included in Los Altos which predate the annexation of the Grant Park area. In the case of NEC predates the city of Los Altos and Hills when school boundaries were mapped out.

I don't think the former Safeway site was purchased but I think it is the construction staging area for phase and parking for the Milk Pail. That whole corner would make a good park/school site go accommodate the planned growth in the area. San Antoino Center was also purchased by the people.who brought you Santana Row and it is not MG.

We got schools near.freeways, airports and other nasty sites including train tracks.

PAUSD is looking at taking back the Cubberley site a school or reopen the 3rd high school.


Posted by Old Mill Cruiser
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Apr 3, 2015 at 1:34 pm

Bring back Fargos!


Posted by Common Sense
a resident of The Crossings
on Apr 4, 2015 at 2:02 pm

I love that with this new plan NEC kids won't have to cross El Camino. Instead they will be crossing San Antonio. Additionally the San Antonio/ California intersection is one of the busiest intersections in Mountain View. How does this improve the lives of those affected children?

It's also interesting that the Covington crowd is fighting to keep their school open to "preserve their little community" but apparently they think nothing of throwing the Crossing kids out of "the community". I guess they don't consider them part of "their community" or at least not an important part.


Posted by David R
a resident of another community
on Apr 4, 2015 at 5:06 pm

I think it's great that LASD is pursuing every real estate option available. Nothing is committing LASD to only pursue this one property. I'm hopeful that many other negotiations with other parcel options throughout the district will be happening in the coming months.

I also applaud LASD for listening to what the school communities desire. If a school is to be moved to newer facilities, or chooses to remain where they are, then ultimately that should be decided upon by the community itself. If North of El Camino Covington families want a school site of their own, then I would expect those families to be asking for it. From what I have seen, NEC Crossing families are a welcome part of the Covington community and very happy with with their school.


Posted by Shocked?
a resident of another community
on Apr 4, 2015 at 6:05 pm

@David R - the thing is that LASD has existing facilities that can accommodate all the district kids. Purchasing another property and administrating an entire new school is a waste of taxpayer funds and it really hurts ALL of the kids in the district because those funds could be put to better use.

While I too appreciate LASD listening to what the school communities desire this isn't a decision to be made by only the school communities because all taxpayers are funding these projects through their regular taxes plus parcel taxes and bonds ($$$). The LASD trustees have made NO effort to educate the community on the options available. If the taxpayers AND the parents were made aware that by utilizing existing facilities (i.e. giving Covington to BCS and moving 6th grade to middle school) the bond money could be used to improve all the schools' facilities the parents might not be so committed to "never closing a school".

Also there has been no discussion of where the operating funds will come from to administrate an 8th elementary school. It seems to me that with a fixed budget and new expenses that cuts will need to be made somewhere and that usually means reducing programs and/or reducing faculty by increasing class size. If given the choice of school cuts vs closing a school where all the kids have another nearby neighborhood school to attend, would the parents still support opening an additional school? And would the rest of the taxpayers? These options need to be made known to the community at large in an open and transparent manner. Enough of the backroom politicking and bullying by a very vocal and well financed minority.


Posted by davidr
a resident of another community
on Apr 4, 2015 at 8:57 pm

LASD has LAND which can handle additional students, plenty of it. LASD's SMALLEST school site to date is 10 acres in size, and the top 4 are 11.5, 16, 18 and 19 acres apiece.

What I don't get is why there would be a plan to lease just 5 acres with an existing office building and remake that into a school. Is that office building comparable to the LASD schools like Oak Avenue and Loyola? Methinks not, not by a long shot. All those garden areas outside each classroom are standard in LASD schools.

This new school will get short shrift. Not only is it the first 2 story school, it's the first school with almost no room for outdoor play space. Each LASD school for 500 kids has about 1 acre of land used just for the teacher parking and the student drop off. This new spot is under 4 acres and a lot of the space is unusable for parking, drop off or play space. You can't bank on converting the parking into play space, because it is needed for the parking!

This is like something cooked up by that Frustrated Los Altos Parent who just wants to screw things up for the students who don't happen to live in the most typical 1/4 acre single family residence in Los Altos. All that matters to this school district is preserving the myth of the 1950's school for those living in the 1/4 acre flatlands of Los Altos. We'll see how this plays out.

You do have to wonder why they don't extract the extra 6-8 acres from one of the existing large school sites and site a new building of the same ilk as the other LASD elementary schools on this piece of land rather than contriving to use a scrap like the 201 San Antonio Property.

As for crossing San Antonio, there's a simple answer to that. 200 kids in LASD live in the Crossings and Old Mill Condo developments. No need to cross any major road for these kids reaching 201 San Antonio Circle. Now, another 200 kids live along Ortega and California streets on the same side of San Antonio. Plus, you have 200 kids in Palo Alto and MV along Del Medio would could walk to school using the underpass below San Antonio near the Caltrain station at San Antonio and Bauer Lumber. The problem is that the subject area is forecast to grow to 800 or so students, and the LASD schools have been arbitrarily capped at 550 students each.


Posted by Leeroy
a resident of another community
on Apr 4, 2015 at 9:58 pm

It is true that LASD taxpayers are funding our schools. It is also true that the Superintendent and Board of Trustees have a significant responsibility to make decisions for the benefit of the children in their schools. Parents involved within those schools have first hand experience of what it is that contributes to the highly successful schools in the region. These school communities should have a major input on how the Measure N bond is spent, even if disproportionate and even if it results in not the most cost effective and cheapest solution.

Mr. Roode, you never seem the grasp that your persistent "solution" to close down the Covington community to hand over to BCS will disrupt and very likely break apart a thriving school. All for no net benefit other than a school swap.

You also fail to grasp that our existing school sites need all the land they can get. Two of those largest sites are the Jr Highs that are both sharing their land with BCS. That impact will worsen as both BCS and Blach and Egan enrollment continues to grow, even without including the 6th graders. That third site, Covington, has 6 extra acres of much needed park space on top of the highly used 10 acres of school space. I think the broader community was pretty loud and clear last year not to further chip away at such valuable park space by trading that with doubled density school loading and land use. Park land that would be lost for good. More creative solutions are needed. Ones that will tackle enrollment growth without affecting the educational success of our students and irreversibly degrading what little public spaces are left.


Posted by Correction
a resident of another community
on Apr 4, 2015 at 10:21 pm

@Leeroy. Covington Park is an additional 5 acres to the side of Covington School, which is 16 acres by itself. Using 6-8 acres of Covington School need in no way affect Covington Park, even if it is empty and unused all day long on school days....

The LASD Jr High's aren't using more than 10-12 acres of their massive sites. This idea that they need as much land as they can get is totally unsupported by the evidence. Middle Schools typically use about 10-12 acres and serve 1000 students. Take a look at nearby schools in other districts. Mountain View Whisman, Palo Alto, Menlo Park and other nearby districts don't use inordinate amounts of land for their middle schools. MVWSD schools both have large sports complexes for the community at large on their sites. MVWSD's Graham Middle school even houses the district kitchens and bus garage services on the Middle school site.


Posted by Shocked?
a resident of another community
on Apr 4, 2015 at 10:22 pm

@ Leeroy - Please don't assume that because taxpayers don't currently have children in the schools that we are ignorant of what qualities contribute to highly successful schools. On the contrary, most of us have children that have matriculated through highly successful programs and we have first hand knowledge of what does and does not affect outcomes in children. And I can assure you that redrawing attendance boundaries will not have a long term negative impact on these kids! Yes, handing over Covington to BCS will break apart a thriving school. And those children will move, with their friends, to another thriving school half a mile down the road. The benefit is much greater than a "school swap". There is significant expense in purchasing land, building a school and administrating that school. That money could be better used to benefit all the kids (rather than just the Covington kids) and it also addresses the needs of BCS. Remember that BCS is absorbing all the growth in the district and their growth keeps the other neighborhood schools small. If you want your school to stay small then it behooves you to give BCS a campus that allows them to grow to their max.

And for the record I am not a BCS parent or alum. Just an observant taxpayer that would like to see prudence exercised in both education and financial management in the district.


Posted by BCS Parent
a resident of another community
on Apr 4, 2015 at 10:42 pm

Shocked? is completely correct. We need to dissolve Covington Elementary and give the campus to our beloved charter school. 12 years ago LASD shut down Bullis Gardener and we have been trying to get back at them. We lost in court and were told that the frivolous lawsuits would get us decertified. (Ethics, Smethics!)

Now is our chance to finally shut down one of THEIR schools. Please support our fight for revenge. Short term, it's not in the best interest in student education, but it would finally put to rest our long standing fight. I promise. We represent most of the richest families in LASD, so we will eventually prevail.

Please lend your support to Shocked? and any future campaigns he pushes to damage LASD.

Thank you.


Posted by davidr
a resident of another community
on Apr 4, 2015 at 10:45 pm

Regarding LASD land usages, a lot of taxpayers in the district will be shocked when they find out the truth. LASD rents out large swaths of land, playspace, parking and portable building siting land to private schools. At Oak Avenue Elementary School, for example, about 2 acres of the school serve as the site of an all-day preschool operated by the YMCA. Sure, after school, it provides programs for the kids who attend Oak Avenue school. But is this 2 acres of land really justified as serving that elementary community which has another 8 acres all to itself. Oak is just under 500 students, and they have 8 acres of land and an adjacent preschool/childcare site.

Will this new 201 San Antonio Avenue site provide that kind of service to that neighborhood? Doesn't it seem that fairness would require this? That 3.5 acre site needs to be closer to 10 acres. Even 5 acres won't cut it. To be fair, that site needs to provide all the whizbangs as does Santa Rita (11.5 acres total), Covington (16 acres total and THREE Preschool/Childcare programs spaces), and Santa Rita (11.5 acres aind also room for a separate after school portable with adjacent supervised play space for that neighborhood. Currently the kids from Del Medio Avenue are ELIGIBLE to attend the Santa Rita after school child care program IF THEIR PARENTS CAN AFFORD IT and do pay for it. Will they have that choice when reassigned to the 201 San Antonio Avenue site? Hmmm?


Posted by Correction
a resident of another community
on Apr 4, 2015 at 10:58 pm

No BCS Parents want to close Covington and get access to that entire 16 acre site. More likely is the idea to share that site between 2 schools, by relocating the private preschools and the district offices and warehouse away. 16 acres is a LOT of space. The LASD schools tend to be spread out and wasteful somewhat of land on their 10 acre sites. Covington with 16 acres is the worse example of efficient use of the land. EVEN NOT TOUCHING THE PARK NEXT DOOR, which is ROSITA PARK, not Covington Park.

Oh yeah, SQUEEZE Covington School down ever so tightly to just 3.5 acres like the 201 San Antonio Circle site. That's one idea that won't fly. Ask why? Because 3.5 acres is just not enough for a typical LASD 550 student school, even if the Covington neighborhood only has 400 or so students coming from nearby But 8 acres? You have to think that an even split of the 16 acres could be made, and keep the old-school Covington on one 8 acres and build a new decent size school on the other 8 acres. It's just much more fair and believable than using some earthquake problem ridden office building as a school which it wasnt' designed for.

So who believes the idea is to give the whole 16 acres to BCS? No one with any sense.... and this does not REQUIRE building things on Rosita Park. That was that old Doug Smith guy's misleading interpretation.


Posted by Shocked?
a resident of another community
on Apr 4, 2015 at 11:01 pm

@ Fake BCS Parent - it is exactly that kind of rhetoric that creates the problems in the district. I gave reasons for why redistributing the Covington kids makes educational and economic sense. You engaged in sarcastic comments that demonstrate that your sole interest is "getting back" at BCS. I'm not part of your war with BCS and I don't care about your war with BCS. It needs to end and you all need to move on. The taxpayers deserve to have their money wisely spent.


Posted by BCS Parent
a resident of another community
on Apr 4, 2015 at 11:21 pm

Shocked? You misunderstood my comments, as I know that we are completely aligned on goals. Looking back on your earlier posts, I now see that you are still veiling our assaults on the district schools. That doesn't seem to work. It hasn't worked for all the years you and I have been trying to get a LASD public school shut down. I think we have lost credibility or something.

Let's just be upfront on what we are trying to do by getting our pound of flesh. I think it's more honest and we can likely sway more votes to close down Covington Elementary and re-distribute their students elsewhere.


Posted by Shocked?
a resident of another community
on Apr 4, 2015 at 11:29 pm

@ Corrections- I don't know what BCS parents want but I would like to see all of Covington given to BCS and I think it makes a lot of sense. This has nothing to do with "giving" Covington to BCS. This is about not wasting money building and administrating an additional school that's not needed (if 6th grade moves to middle schools, BCS moves to Covington and Covington kids redistributed, all elementary schools would have fewer than 500 kids). IF it were determined that another school were needed (to solve the logistical issues with attendance boundaries- i.e. where to put the NEC kids) the only thing that "makes sense" is to build the new school on the 20 acre Egan campus so that it could serve the NEC kids.

Covington, as an LASD neighborhood school, needs to close. It's the only solution that makes financial sense. The Covington parents just need to suck it up and take one for the team.


Posted by davidr
a resident of another community
on Apr 5, 2015 at 12:25 am

@Shocked? Note that Covington alone as it is would not be sufficient to handle all of the projected BCS population as of Fall 2016 let alone the population at the expiration of the current 5 year 'reduced allocation' agreement made by BCS and LASD to cover through Spring 2019. Most likely BCS will number somewhat more than 900 students in Fall 2019.

But take 900 students as a projection. Covington is set up for 500 students in its current classrooms. How do you handle an extra 400 students at the district's average class size of 25 (K-3 and 4-6 both averaged). Well, to start with you need at least 16 additional general self-contained classrooms, but this does not take into account the expansion of the school's shared specialized facilities. You need more flex rooms, science room, small group room, teacher space, office space and you need additional specialized classrooms similar to what is provided to grades 7-8. Basically you would need to add 30,000 square feet of additional indoor school space onto the current space used by the elementary school. Perhaps you could repurpose some of the space currently used by the district offices and the tenants leasing surplus district space on the site. It would be tricky.

It would make more sense to raze the existing district office/tenant space and start anew with one or two newly constructed buildings. Over time, they might survive as the existing Covington buildings were built in 1950 and the district architect has indicated they needed $25 Million or more of work to bring them up to current standards.

Nothing is simple. The truth is BCS is projected to serve the equivalent of about TWO of the current size of school.


Posted by Shocked?
a resident of another community
on Apr 5, 2015 at 12:54 am

@davidr- I realize that modifications would need to be made to Covington to accommodate the growing BCS enrollment but that would be true regardless of the campus they inhabit. At least Covington has the space to allow BCS to grow and as you said they may be able to repurpose some of the existing space. What doesn't make sense is to build a second school on the Covington campus to accommodate BCS AND Covington when the need, if any, for a new school is NEC and Egan is easily capable of accommodating a second school on that campus. I'm betting the NEC parents would prefer the Egan location to an actual NEC campus (socioeconomic diversity), it avoids the purchase price of the land and it certainly bests trucking them all the way up to Covington. Despite the fact that the Covington parents love their community, there are other neighborhood schools that can conviently accommodate those kids. Closing Covington is really the only logical solution.


Posted by Close Covington?
a resident of another community
on Apr 5, 2015 at 1:09 am

"Closing Covington is really the only logical solution."????

Man, you really want to cause parents pain, don't you?

Actually, the only logical solution is to close BCS. LASD taxpayers are paying millions to support this private, yet paid for by taxpayer dollars school when is it really needed? LASD schools are top in the country. So, we have to pay for their campus and we have to pay for their administration.

Closing BCS and re-distributing the students throughout LASD schools is really the only logical solution. It will also save millions each year. We won't need another campus and we get rid of duplicated administrative positions. Not to mention all the extra legal fees trying to fend off their attacks! That is truly being fiscally responsible.

So, please hit "Like" on this posting if you agree that given a choice between shutting down Covington Elementary or Bullis Charter School, that we shut down BCS.


Posted by BCS is here to stay
a resident of another community
on Apr 5, 2015 at 1:21 am

@ Close Covinton? Cause parents pain? Oh please... I can imagine the anguish that would be caused by having their children attend Santa Rita, Bullis, Almond, Loyola or one of those other awful schools. How painful indeed. Those poor parents!

Regardless of the history, BCS isn't going away so folks should just accept it. It's the most popular school in the district and will only continue to grow in popularity.


Posted by Intelligent thinker
a resident of another community
on Apr 5, 2015 at 1:48 am

BCS is hardly the more popular. More parents apply to the quality truly public schools within LASD than BCS.

Doesn't matter though. BCS is doing fine where it is, so talking about handing over Covington to them is simply not going to happen.

Why don't you spend some effort in finding a solution that won't cause the closing of a school rather than being so hateful?


Posted by BCS is here to stay
a resident of another community
on Apr 5, 2015 at 3:14 am

I'm not being hateful at all- just practical because repurposing Covington is the most logical solution to a problem that must be solved. Moving from one excellent school to another nearby excellent school is not the end of the world and needn't be viewed as traumatic and a solution "to be avoided".

And BCS is widely popular- there are several applicants for every available spot so a large percentage of the kids in the district are applying to get in. That's why they're experiencing such growth. Which is fine- it allows the LASD schools to stay small so you should applaud its popularity and its growth.


Posted by Reality
a resident of another community
on Apr 5, 2015 at 3:36 am

Don't bother closing BCS. My inside sources tell me that they are headed in the direction of losing their charter's certification. Fortunately, there are other excellent schools nearby for these students to transfer to, so it won't be traumatic.

Most parents in LASD have not applied to enroll their kids into BCS, so this "large percentage" you write about is a fairy tale.

It's only a sick and demented mind that thinks that closing Covington won't negatively impact the families enrolled there. Very sad. Very pathetic. Very "rude".


Posted by No Schools Closed
a resident of another community
on Apr 5, 2015 at 8:23 am

There is a huge difference between redrawing attendance boundaries, where the need is required across district and the effects on the communities minimized across the district, vs shutting down a thriving school in favor of another thriving school. Despite what they tried to claim in court BCS students are not "discriminated" against, are not educated in a ghetto, and by far are not suffering. Their popularity is a mix of academic success and a no risk no cost application to get into a school with class sizes comparable to private schools, but far far cheaper. They are in control of their own population growth while LASD is required to take in all the new growth. BCS has done well enough split on Blach and Egan. The least disruptive and most logical is to maintain BCS on those sites, build them and the Jr. Highs upward, and small new land serve as an overflow for BCS or a small LASD school. Handing over Covington is a nonstarter and increasing the elementary school density with two full sized schools on Covington has traffic, safety, noise, and loss of park land repercussions that has been publicly discussed these past few years.


Posted by Garrett
a resident of another community
on Apr 5, 2015 at 9:53 am

I agree the schools could be using the land more smartly and time to get out of the 1950's.

Build Egan and Blach into 3 story middle schools wih interior corriders and big windows. A large basement could be built facing a large outdoor courtyard with grass, trees and a plaza going around the building.

Not all students spend time out doors during lunch and breaks. See clubs, library, study groups and other activities.

Play space is importanat and so are those playfields but when a child is 7 year old his needs are far different from a 12 year old.

3.5 acres might work for a K - 2 or a preschool - K site.


Posted by BCS is here to stay
a resident of another community
on Apr 5, 2015 at 11:57 am

It's too bad that the BCS Haters can't get beyond that and think about what's best for all the district kids and the rest of the taxpayers. Very sad- so much energy wasted on needless anger - and toward a group of people that are years removed from the original fight. The current BCS families are just locals interested in an alternative program for their kids.


Posted by Times are a-changing
a resident of Sylvan Park
on Apr 7, 2015 at 9:24 am

Well, it is true that crossing El Camino on foot, bike or by motor vehicle will soon be much more difficult when the VTA installs bus-only lanes. Without discounting the value of babysitting and personal interaction, students at every level may end up in school only via the internet. Just the threat of ISIS and other terrorist groups may force a decentralization of schooling and other activities that could be targeted. Meanwhile, go back to your debate about buildings and have a nice day.


Posted by Stop the Insanity
a resident of another community
on Apr 8, 2015 at 1:58 pm

Three simple steps to solve this problem:

1) Close Covington and give that campus to BCS
2) Move 6th grade to Egan/Blach
3) Re-draw attendance boundaries

Done!


Posted by Stop the Insanity
a resident of another community
on Apr 8, 2015 at 2:02 pm

Just want to add that we would not be in this mess today if LASD BoT had given Gardner Bullis campus to BCS years ago, like they should have.


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