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School board, superintendent vow cooperation

Original post made on Aug 29, 2007

Goodwill and high spirits filled the room at Tuesday's Palo Alto Board of Education meeting, at which board members and new superintendent Kevin Skelly outlined goals and pledged a new era of cooperation for the new school year.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Wednesday, August 29, 2007, 1:34 AM

Comments (13)

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Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 29, 2007 at 10:06 am

Skelly seems to be making an excellent first impression. Keep up the good work.

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Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 29, 2007 at 4:03 pm

He seems so direct after Her Highness Callan.

I take it we're all expecting Garland as a big topic--i.e. too many portables and increase in facilities.

Maybe it's time for the Los Altos Hills crew to start fighting for the return of their elementary.

Should only take 20 meetings or so. <g>

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Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 30, 2007 at 10:26 am

I wonder if Mr. Skelly and the BOE would care to cooperate with the community in caring for the kids of the district? If so, perhaps they would be willing to take short drive over to Fairmeadow to take a look at the newly installed modular (first of several to come, ala "Level One" approval from last spring)

The portable is so far back on campus that it sits within feet of JLS classrooms, much closer to JLS than to Fairmeadow. There is a gate that is kept open that leaves fairmeadow campus (opens on to JLS campus) feet from the front door of that room.

The sun bears down on the only windows of the room in the afternoon, as there is no awning, and no shade (as it sits well beyond the redwood trees that the district facilities manager thought would be such a quaint setting for the modulars).

The classroom is placed well behind what is for all practical purposes to be considered the 'perimiter' of buildings (like, 20-30 yards behind the library, behind the end of the upper grade wing, behind even the line of redwood trees that rims the grass. (Normally those redwood trees even have a fence IN FRONT of them to create an outside border for the campus. Now the portable is placed well BEHIND that line of trees. That's how far back its placed.

And there, way out back, this building sits among some pretty non-educational stuff... storage sheds, areas roped off with yellow caution tape, covered things, apparently empty rooms of some sort (perhaps used for the daycare cetner after school?), an unkept field of weeds, etc.)

They have layed down a rough black patch of asphalt, a short path or landing pad leading to the front of the room, but the area otherwise completely surrounding and leading up to the path is the hard packed dirt (or old asphault), that was there before. (I can't wait to see what the kids have to tromp through during the winter - if it ever rains again.)

The building is barely visible (if at all) from the red top area. There is a wide expanse of space between it and the back of the library where kids could remain (instead of proceeding into the turf and play space areas. In other words, a big opportunity for kids to remain back there unsupervised. Very poor visibility. This portable is sitting in the WAY back area, that is separated from Mitchell park by just a chain link fence (with plenty of entry points).

All in all, a very poor execution of a really ill conceived idea. I hope Skelly and the Board members will take a moment out of their love fest and go check this out. Let us know what you think! I'd love to hear it at the next board meeting.

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Posted by A Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 30, 2007 at 10:36 am

Fairmeadow Parent

I am very interested in what you have to say. I have a couple of questions. Please can you tell me what this modular is used for? Is it a regular classroom for a grade level class? Is it used as a resource room, a science room, an after school care room, or perhaps as a remedial room for students who need extra help? If it is a regular classroom then I am really concerned. If however, it is used for one of the other purposes, it is not quite so worrying as when the children go there they will be under the supervision of other teachers and only supposed to be there for certain times of the day. I did say, not quite so concerned, as I don't really like that either. It may be for use as office space or some other use which may also excuse it.

However, it sounds pretty poorly managed and it looks like we should find out more about it. I particularly don't like the proximity to Mitchell Park with just a chain link fence, which I don't like for JLS either, but that is another matter.

Maybe some other Fairmeadow people can give us more information.

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Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 30, 2007 at 11:17 am

Believe it or not, a regular, full time, 3rd Grade classroom was placed there. It is the only classroom out there.

There are other rooms out there, that are not in use during the day -I believe the other rooms are used by a day care center after school.

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Posted by A Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 30, 2007 at 1:09 pm

Fairmeadow Parents

I think that this is something that your site council must be made aware of as being something that the school parents do not like. Sometimes portables are placed temporarily in a place and are going to be moved. The adjoining buildings may not just be after school day care as often these day care buildings are used for music classes and noontime functions. It is probably well worth finding all this out and mentioning it to your site council. If you feel that you would like to get the BoE involved you could email them or even go to a board meeting and speak up at Open Forum whereby you will have 3 minutes to talk on your subject although there will not be a response from the Board. It will be minuted though and could well be the start of getting a more vocal public outcry.

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Posted by adive
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 30, 2007 at 2:02 pm

I think a friendly discussion finding out the facts of why etc with the new principal would be the best place to start. Remember, you just went through a transitional phase, over the summer,so that nobody was "in charge" at the school while the work was happening..could be there is a mistake or it is temp or there are more plans..who knows?

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Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 31, 2007 at 2:49 pm

Interestingly, in today's Weekly, Skelly is quoted as saying that he is in favor of re-investigating the size of schools (not class size) issue.

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Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 31, 2007 at 4:26 pm

At the board meeting, I believe he said he thinks the class size issue should be under discussion as well.

School size itself is not an issue if the entirety of the school (including traffic, common space, play space, open space, MP room space, administration, safety, noise, neighborhood impact, etc. is ALL taken into consideration in properly executing on a larger school size. You just don't go packing modulars into existing campuses wherever you can cram them in, and create larger school sizes by packing people in like sardines.

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Posted by RWE
a resident of South of Midtown
on Aug 31, 2007 at 5:02 pm

Why not consider multi-level school structures in Palo Alto? Take a look at Los Gatos High School, and others in the region - they're *beautiful*, and they use available space SO much more efficiently. This should definitely be a consideration, going forward.

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Posted by AAAG Member
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 31, 2007 at 7:34 pm

Trouble is with building up, the existing buildings are not strong enough to take the weight of another floor, practically and seismologically. To build up, it would mean demolishing first, then digging deep foundations and then building up. The problem with this is that the size of the work would mean that the building would be out of use for too long to be practical, after all, our schools would still have to function. We did discuss this at some length.

My own feeling is that in PA, the NIMBY neighbors would not like to be overlooked by a very tall school, a two storey building would have to have the first floor 6 feet or so above ground for flooding reasons (in some areas) and this would mean outcry and the PA Way.

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Posted by RWE
a resident of South of Midtown
on Aug 31, 2007 at 10:37 pm

AAAG member, that's really too bad. I'm traveling a lot to Los Gatos recently, and have spent time at the new high school campus. What a delight!

I hear you loud and clear about the construction delays, but surely we could figure out a way to make this happen, especially for the high schools, as they don't directly adjoin private residential properties.

As far as functioning during construction, there must be some way to accomplish this. What have other communities done? I'm going to inquire.

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Posted by Saratoga High Parent
a resident of another community
on Sep 22, 2007 at 12:47 pm

To everyone in the Palo Alto School district: you are extremely fortunate to have Kevin Skelly as your new superintendent, he is a wonderful person and administrator with a true passion for education, families, and what is best for students both academically and in their lives outside of school. He made a huge difference in Saratoga, and we miss him.

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