21 December, 2012

Officials propose Addison school boundary change

After recent 'overflows,' district wants to redraw map for future families

 Palo Alto school officials are recommending shifting the boundary between the attendance areas of Addison and Walter Hays elementary schools, due to persistent "overflow" problems at Addison in recent years.

Superintendent Kevin Skelly suggests that incoming and future students who live within a 20-block area north and south of Embarcadero Road — roughly bounded by Alma Street, Kingsley Avenue, Channing Avenue, Melville Avenue and the backyards between Churchill Avenue and Coleridge Avenue — attend Walter Hays rather than Addison.

Current Addison students and any younger, preschool siblings would be able to stay at Addison. The new boundaries would apply to all other entering students beginning next fall.

The Board of Education is likely to vote on the change in January.
"We've discussed this with both principals as well as the school Traffic Safety Committee," Skelly said Tuesday, Dec. 18. "There are certainly concerns, but any change is going to generate concerns. This is the best change we could identify."

Addison parents were told last spring of the pending change, and there has been more recent discussion with Walter Hays parents, he said.
Additional meetings with the school communities are being planned, said Ann Dunkin, chief technology officer for the school district.
Current boundaries have created massive uncertainty for pre-kindergarten families in the Addison area, where more than 30 students were "overflowed" and sent to other schools two years ago, Skelly told the school board Tuesday.

"We'd really like to fix that," he said. "Hays has seen declining enrollment trends as kids age up, so we're looking at shifting some of these kids from Addison to Hays."
Also Tuesday, officials said that despite rising enrollment, Palo Alto's three middle schools — augmented by portable classrooms — should be able to meet demand at least through 2021.
Board members and Skelly have said they would like to open a fourth middle school before that time. Dunkin, who has been analyzing projections, said, "There is probably some middle ground."

Board members said they would like to see options that include opening a new middle school before 2021, and Skelly promised to come back after the holidays with proposals.
As for a new elementary school, a committee of parents and school officials will convene after the holidays to advise on options, guided by a list of "values" approved by the board. In October, board members asked staff to come up with a "conceptual comparison" of opening a 13th elementary school at the old Garland Elementary School campus at 870 N. California Ave. versus the Greendell campus at 4120 Middlefield Road.

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