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by Old Palo Alto , Old Palo Alto,
on Nov 10, 2013
It seems the threat of a $300,000 fine does not worry Castilleja administrators. Nor do they care about being good neighbors. It is high time to raise the penalty to something closer to $1,000,000
To me this is pretty simple, Casti has plenty of money and can afford its staffing levels without growing and even if they shrink to the size they are supposed to be. They should reduce their enrollment in two ways:
Allow student attrition until that grade level is at 60 students or less (no one comes off the waiting list).
Admit 60 students for its incoming 6th grade class.
This will bring the enrollment down to the level they are supposed to be at without actually asking students to leave (which would be unfair).
It is time for Castilleja School to find a new leader who will come clean with the truth to the community and stop the shenanigans. The school leadership, unbeknownst to many including many it's own trustees let alone tuition paying Castilleja parents, attempted to coerce the neighbors and subsequently the City into increasing their officially permitted enrollment to 510 students from the officially permitted enrollment of 415 students. The school this year is 33 students over the existing permit at 448 students.
They publicly failed, and were found to deceptive and untruthful in their tactics. As a result, they are being forced to retrench and reduce enrollment back to the original 415 students as mandated by the City years ago. Besides the $300,000 penalty, the ruling will cost the school millions of dollars in tuition and gifts in the years ahead, making this blunder a fiscal disaster as well as a public relations one.
Some words of advice to the Castilleja trustees - come clean to the community, admit your mistakes, and do the right thing. Retrench to 415, start consolidating your budget and finances, and move on. Castilleja will survive and eventually prosper once again, just as it has for over 100 years. If your current school head cannot do the right thing, ask her to move on and find a new head of school who will, with both good character and clean conscience.
I tend to think the community is being too hard in its criticism of Castilleja.
All schools are growing in enrollment. There are more people living in the area and more people wanting an education for their children at all levels. From good preschools to places in the UCs and private colleges, all are being pressured to enlarge enrollments.
I tend to think that Casti should increase its enrollment to enable more parents of qualified girls to get places. All schools at all levels should be serving the community not becoming more exclusive and more competitive just to get in. Is it as hard to get a place in Casti as it is at Stanford, or so it seems? This will make it even more difficult. No, I haven't tried to get my daughter in so I am not speaking from the point of view of sour grapes.
Now the parking situation is a different situation all together. Like Downtown, College Terrace, the areas near Gunn, Paly, and in fact all our schools, etc. etc. parking is a big problem in Palo Alto. This area is no different.
I suggest we get realistic about parking, making it easier to park for longer time without having to buy monthly/annual passes. We need to make realistic shuttle services that serve all our schools for a reasonable fare. We should also be looking at satellite parking lots with shuttles into town.
Stop giving Casti a hard time for doing what all other schools are being forced to do and other successful businesses aim to do, grow.
@resident – All of our local schools are growing, but the big difference is that private schools have both control of their growth AND a financial incentive to grow. As far as Castilleja becoming "more exclusive and more competitive" generally that is the point of a private school unless it has a particular educational bent such as Charles Armstrong. Part of the lure of a private school is usually its small size.
A school is not a business it does not need to grow larger in order to "grow" its students. There is no reason, other than the financial benefits to Castilleja, to allow Castilleja to grow its enrollment.
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