While agreeing Palo Alto must open a new elementary school, members of the board of education differed Tuesday on how much more information they need before deciding to locate it on San Antonio Avenue near the city's southern border or at the old Garland school site on North California Avenue.
Earlier they had set a timetable to decide by next month in order to open a school by fall 2017, but it was not clear Tuesday whether they will stick with that deadline.
A community advisory committee has said the best choice would be to open a "hybrid" school at 525 San Antonio Road, the site of the old Peninsula Day Care Center, combined with the adjacent Greendell campus at 4120 Middlefield Road, abutting Cubberley Community Center.
The "hybrid" school would combine neighborhood children with children in a choice program, such as language immersion, and minimize boundary disruptions for other elementary schools, the committee said.
But only one board member, Melissa Baten Caswell, indicated Tuesday that she was ready to go with the San Antonio/Greendell option. Caswell argued that location would keep "maximum flexibility" for the district and preserve a rental income stream from tenants at Garland.
Other board members were hesitant, several saying they need more certainty as to the exact programming at the new campus before deciding on location.
Concerned that the Mandarin Immersion Program now located at Ohlone School could be a candidate for moving to the new site, parents from that program turned out to argue that the program would be seriously harmed if it were removed from its host school.
"The Mandarin strand is not separate from Ohlone," said parent Sue Kramer, who has one child in the Mandarin program and another child in the regular English program at the school.
"It cannot be extracted from Ohlone and be expected to survive," Kramer said.
Carla Rayacich, founder of a three-year-old school for children with dyslexia that currently rents the San Antonio property from the school district, said her school would be harmed by loss of the site.
Board member Barb Mitchell said she needs more data on impacts to students in other parts of the district before deciding.
"I agree it would be a value to make a decision by June on which site, but I didn't anticipate that would simply mean choosing a location. For me it gets complex …" Mitchell said.
Board President Dana Tom and member Camille Townsend both said they need more time to decide on programming at the new campus, which would be difficult to do by June.
"Unless I know what the impact on the boundaries are going to be I can't make a decision," Tom said.
"Introducing a thirteenth elementary school has huge ripples -- it completely changes the ecosystem of our elementary schools. Some choices have much deeper ripples than others."
Superintendent Kevin Skelly said he will return to the board April 23 with options for discussion.
"Let me go work with staff," Skelly said. "We have a lot of input from the board. Let us come back to you on the 23rd with something and work it through.
"We don't know what it is yet. We were ambitious to say we'd come back with a recommendation on the 23rd."