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MV Whisman aims for multi-story schools

Original post made on Jul 8, 2018

Following a citywide trend away from single-story suburbia toward taller, denser housing and offices, Mountain View school officials say it's time to start planning for urban schools to house a flood of new students.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Sunday, July 8, 2018, 3:57 PM

Comments (28)

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Posted by TH hopeful
a resident of Rex Manor
on Jul 8, 2018 at 9:07 pm

I was hoping the new housing would help gentrify the neighborhood school. Apparently this is not happening.


4 people like this
Posted by Bill H
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jul 8, 2018 at 10:11 pm

Bill H is a registered user.

Any residential development in North Bayshore must ensure that a fair share of the tax revenue is allocated to schools.


2 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jul 8, 2018 at 10:15 pm

[Post removed due to disrespectful comment or offensive language]


12 people like this
Posted by Why?
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jul 9, 2018 at 9:57 am

I really hope that the city will support putting a large park with a playground and playing fields next to the new school, similar to the other schools in Mountain View. The north bay shore area has a huge amount of under utilized city owned open space in the golf course and dog park. Why can't some of this space be allocated to (or land swapped for) a city owned school park and playing fields? Why is the city letting the golf course remain in these plans if land in the area is so scarce. I'd rather see the land be used to for kids to play then for golfers or dogs.


11 people like this
Posted by Rita
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Jul 9, 2018 at 2:48 pm

So good to hear a multi-story school will be built! Where I grew up my grade school was three stories, my high school four stories. That provided lots more space for outdoor activities.


2 people like this
Posted by harvardmom
a resident of Monta Loma
on Jul 9, 2018 at 3:05 pm

I would like to see shaded areas for students to play in, especially on a rooftop. We all know how harmful sun damage is for everyone, so let's protect our students while we're in the planning stages. If swimming pools are being considered, do the same--shade them for sun protection. Thanks.


1 person likes this
Posted by Debbie
a resident of Willowgate
on Jul 9, 2018 at 3:56 pm

I'm surprised Google doesn't have plans to just build its own private, exclusive STEM-oriented K-12 school on its land for the children of its workers, the way they did the preschool.


6 people like this
Posted by Bob
a resident of Monta Loma
on Jul 9, 2018 at 4:52 pm

From these comments posted here so far, no wonder this district is a mess.


13 people like this
Posted by William Hitchens
a resident of Waverly Park
on Jul 9, 2018 at 4:58 pm

William Hitchens is a registered user.

My high school, which was in an upper middle class suburban city, was three stories tall and every student had a tall locker store their stuff so they didn't have to lug it around in stupid backpacks. Even the "Baby Boomer Annex" was two stories tall. I've never understood why CA cities need to build single-story schools that consume excess land, even without lockers, that waste lots of land. Maybe years ago they were cheap to build when land was cheap? That certainly is not true anymore!!!


8 people like this
Posted by William Hitchens
a resident of Waverly Park
on Jul 9, 2018 at 5:09 pm

William Hitchens is a registered user.

Sorry to belabor the point, but my High School and its Annex both had full basements for classrooms and school maintenance and storage departments. Most of the manual arts classes and maintenance involving machinery were in the basement where the floor was most solid. It's really fascinating to see that finally(!!!) most new teardown homes in Los Altos and even some in Waverly Park finally are using basements to increase their living space and maximizing their outdoor space. Basements are wonderful places for all of the stuff that crowds or dirties your living space.


23 people like this
Posted by Graham Alum Family
a resident of Waverly Park
on Jul 9, 2018 at 8:29 pm

With all due respect,

If we're willing to allow a builder to build on 100 acres (and in fill everywhere else) - why can't we request that 10 of the 100 acres be used for the purposes of building a new school? - Having kids play on rooftops in lieu of field grass is nuts and not the way to go. Let's reserve the land while it is available and preserve and cherish it!

Also, with Shoreline as a playfield - a school could be situated closer there so that the kids could go out and learn about conservation and environmental stewardship - this space saving could allow for more playing fields but perhaps not needing the full 10 acres.

Paying a consultant almost a half million to study this - yet another example (in my opinion) of where this district has not spent our tax dollars wisely.

New leadership, please.


4 people like this
Posted by Google
a resident of another community
on Jul 10, 2018 at 2:01 pm

The School District's grand plans don't get very specific, such as is this an Elementary school grades K-5 or something else? How much land are they talking about? How much outdoor space would be included, if any? Why do elementary schools need any outdoor space at all? How big an area on the roof would be considered outdoor space? What the heck are they talking about and why are they being so sweepingly general?

Now consider that they have 6.5 acres of land being leased out to Google in one story buildings pretty near the North Bayshore area. Is daycare for infants different than an elementary school? Does it need more land and more outdoor space? What exactly is the land shortage if the district leases so much land to Google? This is the Slater School adjacent to where this new Avilla school is being opeend on just 1.5 acres of land. 6.5 acres for Google babies and 1.5 acres for the local kids.

Then, also consider that even closer, the district also has a 12 acre site leased out to two private schools, also in one story buildings with plenty of outdoor space, one story buildings, and nothing on rooftops. This is the Whisman School area, adjacent to the city's Whisman Park.

Taken into a reasonable context what is described in this article lacks much of a foundation and it is totally right to call into question the competency of the school district administration and board members...


8 people like this
Posted by Sunset on Shoreline
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jul 11, 2018 at 12:06 pm

Dear Bill H and others. The Shoreline District (a quasi-Redevelopment District) will continue to divert greater than the property tax that is "shared" with the MVWSD (K-8 elementary schools). The "sharing" that comes from the General property tax is not guaranteed and any new buildings in Shoreline, and any new property tax generated may or may not be "shared". It is up to the City alone to decide under CURRENT STATE LAW.

This is nuanced (sorry - politics). The special legislation forming Shoreline in 1969 will continue indefinitely unless the state repeals it. All new General property taxes are guaranteed ONLY to Shoreline district! School Bond property taxes, for facilities, are paid by all property within MVWSD, including Shoreline. But GENERAL FUND revenues, paying for yearly operations of MVWSD, are permanently diverted 100% into Shoreline. The Council, acting as Shoreline district governance, can "share" some General property tax revenue with schools IF IT CHOOSES/ or not!


14 people like this
Posted by Beth T
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jul 13, 2018 at 8:06 am

I attended local single story schools and I remember cherishing the direct access to fresh air and green space. The teacher could open the door and fresh breezes would revive us on sleepy afternoons. I felt so calm looking out the wall of windows and watching the shifting branches of trees and occasional visitors like birds and squirrels. This immediate sensory connection to nature helped me immeasurably as a student.

As a parent we tried taking our children to a big concrete school (the Palo Alto JCC). We pulled our boys out pretty quickly, in no small part due to the architecture. The lack of green space, the car only access, playtime and PE and even just walking to and from the classroom in blazing hot sunny concrete - we all hated it. People and especially children need organic shapes and spaciousness and nature around them in the spaces that they spend the majority of their waking hours.

Rooftop lawns for schools sounds like a treeless poor substitute for the real thing. One massive building surrounded on all sides by other multistory buildings? Why do we not carve out substantial space in our urban landscape for such a precious resource as our children? Let's take care that the choices we make now support the next generation. Tech just as much as every other sector needs well adjusted, creative young adults who can focus, collaborate, innovate...giving children open space, access to nature and fresh air are necessary elements in achieving this end.


4 people like this
Posted by EPTF member
a resident of Rex Manor
on Jul 14, 2018 at 3:00 am

EPTF member is a registered user.

@TH hopeful

"I was hoping the new housing would help gentrify the neighborhood school. Apparently this is not happening."

It is happening!

Pretty soon, the demographics of the Theuerkauf boundary area will look a lot more like Landels or Bubb does now and if it keeps up, TH will be more like Huff!

Actually, if you've been paying attention for the past 10-15 years (well after my wife and I moved into Rex Manor), there has indeed been a huge rush of house flippers with loads of cash available who have been buying up the Eickler homes from 1949 and scraping them away to the raw dirt, then putting the lot up for sale with a promise to build a custom home to meet the exacting desires of far more wealthy home buyers.

This process finds the homes in the worst condition or home owners in the worst distress and they offer significantly above fair market value to get the old owners to sell out. The profit is so high, they have no problem offering more than any typical buyer could.

They want to buy out the worst homes first, so they not only get to sell a great new home, but they get rid of the worst eye-sores in the area, which raises the value of all the homes in the process.

The long-term poor residents of Rex Manor are getting a huge cash windfall to sell out and move away.

Same thing that happened to the Wagonwheel area of Whisman when the MVWSD assigned that formerly poor area to Huff, then the poor sold out and the higher-income families bought in.

Same had gotten quite far in the SWAN area because they could go to Bubb, but now, SWAN should stabilize.


7 people like this
Posted by @District
a resident of Monta Loma
on Jul 14, 2018 at 9:32 am

Any of the regular commenters from the school district want to talk about EPTF Member? They've claimed to have direct conversations with you on a regular basis, and now they're excitedly discussing gentrification of their neighborhood and how their "demographics" will be more like Huff. Are these really the folks guiding policy in our district?


7 people like this
Posted by @ EPTF
a resident of another community
on Jul 14, 2018 at 6:14 pm

Where are these folks supposed to go? Windfall?!

Moving to Stockton does not sound like a windfall to me. FOR ANY ANY AMOUNT OF MONEY!!


3 people like this
Posted by EPTF member
a resident of Rex Manor
on Jul 14, 2018 at 7:19 pm

EPTF member is a registered user.

@@ EPTF
"Where are these folks supposed to go?"

You are aware there are 50 states and many other cities/towns in California, right?

Look, I NEVER claimed I was HAPPY about what I see going on, but I am a realist.
I know there is nothing that can legally, ethically or morally be done to change the decades long trend in the greater bay area, nor in my neighborhood.

For what the house flippers are offering for 1/4 acre single-family homes in Mountain View you could buy a 20-acre ranch with a 5 bedroom house in any of our surrounding states and even in some parts of California.

For renters who are stretching their budgets to the breaking point to stay here, they could live a much better life almost anywhere else, maybe even buy a home, if they moved.

All of which explains why so many people are moving out of California in recent years.

"Windfall?!"

Indeed, good timing and patience is often rewarded with serious profit.

"Moving to Stockton does not sound like a windfall to me. FOR ANY ANY AMOUNT OF MONEY!!"

Exactly my point and exactly why I flatly turned down three over-market offers on my house already in the past 5 years. We want to stay here while we can, but we wont die just because we find we must move away.

The trend is nothing new, nor was it new when the MVWSD handed a huge increase in land values to the Wagon Wheel area of Whisman by assigning that area to Huff back in 2006.

So called "gentrification" of the Silicon Valley and the greater SF Bay area has been going on since WWII and nothing short of an economic disaster in the area could ever change that path.

The people who have been lucky enough to buy into land in the Silicon Valley long enough ago and managed to hold onto it have the option to indeed gain a windfall of profit by selling in this good economy.
I see nothing wrong with families who have been poor for generations, but got lucky in land, selling out and moving to much lower cost areas.
I trust they will make what they feel is the best choice for their families.

My family is getting by and living carefully to be able to stay in Mountain View where we have lived for 30 years. We have no idea if we will be able to stay here, but we are trying our best. If it ever happens that we cannot stay, we will find another place to live.

Life will go on.

You may be surprised to know that (outside California) it's still a reasonably free country and most adults are allowed to move without justifying their decision to anyone.


2 people like this
Posted by EPTF member
a resident of Rex Manor
on Jul 14, 2018 at 7:46 pm

EPTF member is a registered user.

@@District

I suggest you take a good look at the past MVWSD policies and the changes in policy coming in 2019-2020.
The new MVWSD policies work AGAINST gentrification, not for it.
The OLD policies encouraged gentrification.

"...EPTF Member?... and now they're excitedly discussing gentrification of their neighborhood"

Where exactly did I say I was "excited" or happy or in favor of "gentrification"?

Any rational person will be able to see that it's a natural and unavoidable result of a region which has encouraged high paying jobs and as for Mountain View, it has been going on here since long before I was born.

Heck, look at San Francisco itself, the housing values there are even more accelerated than in MV. Even the political leadership of SF have no ideas or power to reverse that trend.

"and how their "demographics" will be more like Huff."

Just pointing out what happened when the MVWSD assigned the Wagon Wheel area to Huff in 2006 and what is clearly spreading all across Mountain View.

"Are these really the folks guiding policy in our district?"

MVWSD policy, since I have been aware, has shifted away from gentrification by focusing on neighborhood schools instead of liberally allowing transfers between schools. In the past, like in 2006, the MVWSD policies actually caused gentrification to speed up. In the past the policies gave anyone looking at Mountain View the chance of getting into one of the "top" schools regardless of where they lived.

Gentrification was an obvious consequence of not even bothering to check the actual residency of the students and allowing so many to transfer into Huff/Bubb/Landels and so many out of Theuerkauf, Monta Loma and Castro.

The focus on neighborhood schools and restricting transfers can only slow gentrification, not accelerate it.

The only thing the MVWSD has done recently to improve the profile of the district to attract wealthier families was to renovate all 11 schools in the district.

Do you object to that?
Or would you prefer the kids continue to be educated in seriously sub-standard facilities for the next few decades?


1 person likes this
Posted by EPTF member
a resident of Rex Manor
on Jul 14, 2018 at 8:02 pm

EPTF member is a registered user.

@ Bob
a resident of Monta Loma
"From these comments posted here so far, no wonder this district is a mess. "

Past policies going back to the early 2000's and the financial failure of the original Whisman School District have lead us to the mess we have now. You could also lay a good deal of blame at the feet of the past President who decided to close Moffett Field. The new MVWSD policies for 2019-2020 have been developed in a more holistic manner with a good eye to the future.

What we don't have much of a clue about yet is how the North Bayshore development will turn out for schools. The city of MV may get us what the new students will need and I hope the MVWSD will do a good job of handling that challenge, but we cannot know for some years to come.

For now, with the 11 schools we have, we seem to be on a much better track that in prior decades. We can only pay attention and hope and better yet, be involved. We have not had much competition in a long time in school board elections.

Personally, I don't look forwards to the idea of a bunch of multi-story monolithic schools with little outdoor space in North Bayshore, but that's more in the hands of the city, not as much the district authority.


8 people like this
Posted by @District
a resident of Monta Loma
on Jul 14, 2018 at 8:19 pm

EPTF Member, this is pretty Rich. Didn't you skip out on your neighborhood school for Stevenson? In Rex Manor, you're zoned for Theuerkauf, right?

You've started conflating gentrification of schools with gentrification of neighborhoods, which is unsurprising given your obsession with "neighborhood schools" (except for your own.)


6 people like this
Posted by Garbage In Garbage Out
a resident of another community
on Jul 15, 2018 at 12:07 am

This is based on a false premise. Two story schools are no big deal, but rooftop play areas and no outdoor space is an extreme design. There would be quite a big lawsuit likely from residents whose kids were assigned to a school with no outdoor turf area while all the other areas of the school district have plentiful field space. It's indefensible and discriminatory on the face of itl Worse still, if the district is leasing out plentiful real estate holdings to get income which funds ALL the schools, not just the ones with the kids asked to make the sacrifice.


1 person likes this
Posted by EPTF member
a resident of Rex Manor
on Jul 15, 2018 at 3:29 pm

EPTF member is a registered user.

@Garbage In Garbage Out

"Two story schools are no big deal,"

I'm not worried about 2-story schools, we are already going to have two 2-story schools opening by 2019-2020.

I am more concerned about 4-story or higher schools which MVWSD may be forced to build if the city fails to get us the land the MVWSD needs to do better.

"but rooftop play areas and no outdoor space is an extreme design."

Yes, I agree, roof tops are not a reasonable design option, but if the city fails us, we either have to transport thousands of kids across 101 or build on what land the city gets for us.

"There would be quite a big lawsuit likely from residents whose kids were assigned to a school with no outdoor turf area while all the other areas of the school district have plentiful field space."

Sure, but again, the MVWSD is NOT in the power position here on getting the developers to hand over large areas of land to the district. The MVWSD must find a way to support the kids that come from the new developments with what land the city gets for us.

Sue the city, they have the power to make the difference.

Oh and if we do transport thousands of kids from above 101 down the the school sites the MVWSD owns, even assuming we kick-out ALL of the renters we currently use for operating revenue, those leased-out properties won't be nearly enough room to support all those kids from above 101. We would need to again come up with hundreds of millions to build bigger schools and use up most of our existing open park areas.

"It's indefensible and discriminatory on the face of itl"

Since all of the families who move into the North Bayshore area will already KNOW what the schools will be like when they move in and since most of these families will be high-income tech workers, who exactly is being discriminated against?

"Worse still, if the district is leasing out plentiful real estate holdings to get income which funds ALL the schools,"

And exactly HOW will all those millions of lease money going to be replaced?

" not just the ones with the kids asked to make the sacrifice."

You mean the kids who's parents knew in advance what the schools in the North Bayshore were going to be like?


3 people like this
Posted by Garbage In Garbage Out
a resident of another community
on Jul 16, 2018 at 3:56 am

There is absolutely no reason to think that there would ever be thousands of kids living North of Bayshore. None at all. You may mean hundreds. However, that's not much of a problem. First of all, a lot of these kids would attend high school. A good number would attend various private schools, as is the norm throughout MVWSD for grades K-8. It's on the order of 10-20% who attend private elementary schools. There is a thought that eventually, in a great number of years, the total number of residential units might reach 10000. However, something like 3000 to 4000 will be intended for workers at Google, fresh out of school themselves. The school kids would come from 6000-7000 units of apartment homes. Typically one might see at most 1400 K-8 students from that number of apartments, but it's not clear that this will be the case. It seems more likely that this will be under 1000, and at the same time, the number of students living in existing houses elsewhere in the district is likely to decrease over time. The cost of housing is a big factor in sending families with kids elsewhere. This is uncharted territory. At the same time, this bit about not crossing 101 to attend school is not founded in any sort of logic. Historically there were 500+ kids living at Moffett Field and they always crossed 101. Compared to perhaps 60,000 workers working in the North Bayshore area, the bus commute of 1000 or 1500 students is a blip of an issue. It's far more reasonable to make use of surplus land at Whisman School to create reasonably appointed schools than it is to get hung up on transit issues. It's a nearby location and a very reasonable trip to reach school.


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Posted by EPTF member
a resident of Rex Manor
on Jul 16, 2018 at 11:30 am

EPTF member is a registered user.

@Garbage In Garbage Out

"There is absolutely no reason to think that there would ever be thousands of kids living North of Bayshore. None at all. "

Well, unless you count the statements by the MVWSD, of course.
In several Board meetings the expected number of kids were expected to need as many as 4 K-5 schools, 1 middle school and perhaps even a new high school.

I didn't just make this stuff up, but I personally do feel the district's demographics research is possibly a bit high.

And even the district estimates understand that the numbers would take time to be reached because the North Bayshore housing would not all get fully occupied for a number of years.

However, my point is about the LAND that the city MAY make available and that if they don't plan for the highest probable number of kids, then we know we will be forced into bad results far less desirable than the existing 11 schools.

Even if there is 1000 kids added to the rolls of the MVWSD we wont have the capacity to deal with them and even if we used portable to add capacity, then again, we will have a huge transportation problem with all those kids needing to cross 101.

And as for traffic, even the private school kids will need to cross the 101.


3 people like this
Posted by Other Areas Too
a resident of Cuernavaca
on Jul 16, 2018 at 2:30 pm

There are also 5,000 units approved for East Whisman and 2,000 units approved for Moffett - a higher percentage of those will yield school-aged kids. To my knowledge, no mitigation is in place for those projects.

And, there's certainly a likelihood that once construction starts on the first of the 10,000 units in N. Bayshore, that new projects will come on line.

Huge amounts of growth. It's irresponsible for Council to not be planning for schools and other infrastructure (transportation, etc)


3 people like this
Posted by Garbage In Garbage Out
a resident of another community
on Jul 16, 2018 at 5:27 pm

Switching around which areas of the city have the most kids is an unavoidable when the city increases population out of consistency with past growth. Besides East Whisman there is the entire El Camino Corridor which has been zoned to encourage extreme changes in residential density. Right now most of El Camino is served by schools fairly far away, with a lot of the corridor assigned to Bubb So Bubb might well get overcrowded too. One fairly small section of the entire length of El Camino Real is assigned to Castro Elementary. MVWSD has already doubled up schools on the Castro site, with 2 schools expected to serve 450 students each, 900 total. Right now there are only 600 some kids at these 2 sites, so there is room for a growth of 300. Castro is on 9 acres of land with nearly an acre carved out for essentially a public park which is open in the day time along Latham street. All that land belongs to MVWSD. It's hard to judge now because of the construction ongoing, but the park area remains open.

But there is spacious land at Bubb with 10 acres belonging to MVWSD and a SEPARATE 3.5 acre city park that is adjacent and owned by the city.

One could easily imagine fitting 2 schools where Bubb is now. It would not be nearly so short of outdoor space as is Castro. There's really no problem at all using 10 acres to house 2 schools, especially if they are only 450 students each without evening bothering with 2 stories. The foot print of the actual buildings of the school are bigger than they need to be on all the MVWSD schools. They are laid out garden style with lots of outdoor space between wings and with outdoor corridors. The building space is under 40,000 sq ft which means it covers 1 acre of the land at 1 story. There's another 9 acres of uncovered land usable for blacktop and turf area and parking. Plenty for two schools, without changing things wildly with the 3 stories and rooftop play areas.

Over in North Whisman, you have 9 acres of MVWSD land at the former Slater school, mostly leased out to Google to use for infant daycare. Room there for 2 completely normal MVWSD schools without any real need for 2 stories, except Google is hogging almost all the land.

Nearby, Whisman School is leased out to 2 different private schools. It's 12 acres of land with a city park adjacent. MVWSD owns most all of that land and it serves 1000 kids in private schools now.

Then there's the famous Cooper Park which is 10 acres of land owned by MVWSD that the city has talked of land swapping for. There's also Sylvan Park, owned by MVWSD and meant as a neighorhood school for that neighborhood and for Cuernavaca for that matter.

Awash in idle land.

Look at Whisman


1 person likes this
Posted by Steven Nelson
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jul 17, 2018 at 1:06 pm

thank you @Garbage In Garbage Out: most of the data that you are bssing your opinions on are factually correct - as in as much detail as I have studied them over the last 8 years.

The Acreage is right and the potential use of Sylvan Park's 10 AC 'education reserve' for a public school are correct. The Sylvan Park future configuration situation is very similar to the legal arrangement that you see at Bubb Park and Bubb School. In the past, Sylvan area did not need it's own school because classroom capacity existed in other areas.

I liked some of your analysis especially! The "famous Cooper Park" - yes, like the "formerly infamous Cuesta Park Annex" these two publicly owned parcels need (IMO) to have better public benefit uses {NIMBY sentiment in opposition I know!}. Making development in MV livable is a huge challenge for the next several decades in all parts of MV (can we just BAN Los Altos residents from clogging up our Grant Ave. going North in the morning???)


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