Dear San Carlos Schools Community:
You no doubt have heard much lately about the District’s current efforts to complete its Facilities Master Plan (FMP) so that we can begin much needed upgrades to our campuses and build new facilities. These efforts will allow us to accommodate our ever-growing student population and alleviate the overcrowding that already exists at nearly all our schools.
The District began the process of building the FMP over two years ago. We created a broadly representative Facilities and Enrollment Capacity Committee, made up of parents, teachers, and administrators from all of our schools to help guide the process and provide critical input and feedback. We have since hosted multiple community meetings on this topic at each school site, at PTA, School Site Council, and town hall meetings open to all parents and other community members. Most recently, and in conjunction with the passage of Measure H, we have hired architects to provide professional expertise on scenarios of what is possible to build, and where, what the impact would be on traffic, and provide a range of cost possibilities. Suffice it to say, we have learned a lot!
In the end, we have not found a “perfect solution”. Given current circumstances, we are working to select the most optimal scenario. Options being considered at this time by the School Board are as follows.
- Divide each middle school parcel into two campuses and design and build completely separate, developmentally and academically appropriate Grade 4-5 schools, located adjacent to the middle schools, whereby those 4th and 5th graders would then matriculate to the associated middle school for grades 6-8.
- The above scenario is simpler to do at Central Middle School than at Tierra Linda Middle School, because another district school, Charter Learning Center (CLC), already shares the TL campus. Therefore, several options have been considered that involve moving CLC to another site. These include:
- Purchase a new piece of land that would allow CLC to have its own school campus, thus freeing up space to build the completely separated 4-5 campus on the upper portion of TL; this plan would thus align with #1 above.
- Reconstruct TL to be 3 separate campuses (there are nearly 20 acres there, which is by far our largest site…but we all know the traffic concerns!), whether just temporarily or more permanently, so that these grade 4-5 campuses can still be located near the middle schools where the students would eventually attend. CLC could develop its own campus, and still allow for alignment with #1 above.
- Consider converting the upper field of Heather Elementary School, or perhaps the tennis court area at Arundel, into a separate campus and allow CLC to build its campus there. Here, too, Option 1 can be achieved, but with some obvious impact to either Arundel or Heather schools.
- The final option being considered is to create smaller Grade 4-5 schools at Arundel and Heather. This option would add half as many students to those 2 campuses (between 120 and 200 students at each site) than if CLC were moved there; it would approximate option #1 above, but it would not necessarily be aligned in terms of population, how electives are offered, and types of facilities that could be provided.
None of these scenarios is absolutely perfect, each involving trade-offs and having varying impact on cost, traffic circulation, program implementation, congruity of feeder patterns, and more. As you might imagine, the School Board has in front of it a complex decision-making task ahead.
As more and more people have become involved in these conversations this year, it is evident that there are varying and quite diverse perspectives on what is the best solution for our school communities. Not all of you have had the opportunity to participate in our community meetings, and so you have received information third hand. As such, and as evidenced by the many emails the Board and I have received, we have noted many misunderstandings and misconceptions surrounding what it is the Board is considering at this time. We hope that what is described above will bring some clarity to all this. Additionally, we address below a few other misconceptions, by way of a FAQ Sheet. If after reading these questions remain, we encourage you to talk with your school’s principal or contact me directly. I am, as always, at your disposal.
Craig Baker, Ed. D.
Superintendent, San Carlos School District