BY EMILY MIBACH
Daily Post Staff Writer
The East Palo Alto City Council on Tuesday (June 18) will vote on whether to give final approval for the school proposed by Mark Zuckerberg’s wife, Dr. Priscilla Chan.
Once the Primary School’s facilities at 1200 Weeks St. are completed, there will be some 511 students in grades kindergarten to eighth grade. Another 150 students will be part of an infant-toddler-parent program. The school — the brainchild of Chan, who is a pediatrician — will combine health care for the children along with education.
The school has told the city in the past that about 90% of its students will live in East Palo Alto. This comes at a time when the Ravenswood School District is facing steadily decreasing enrollment, with families fleeing to other schools, causing the district to lose state funding, which is based on enrollment numbers.
The district lost about 400 students between October 2016 and October 2017, according to a chart attached to a report for the project.
The district is slated to lose another 583 students between October 2018 and October 2021. This will take the district’s enrollment from 2,386 to 1,803, according to the report.
Ravenswood gets money based on how many children are at school every day. The district has steadily had to cut millions from its budget the past two years.
But despite concerns about Ravenswood, the city’s planning commission on June 10 unanimously recommended that the City Council give the Primary School the go-ahead.
If approved, construction on the site will likely begin in September or October.
In the first stage, crews will remove dirt on the property and replace it because the property is contaminated, according to the environmental impact report.
The school will be paying about $1.5 million in fees and traffic improvements around the school, notably paying for a sidewalk to be built on the northern side of Runnymede Street.
The Primary School has been open since 2016, operating out of trailers across the street from the Ravenswood Family Health Center at 1885 Bay Road. The school bought 3.5 acres on Weeks Street a few years ago, but has not been able to build there because of a development moratorium due to a water shortage.
The moratorium ended after the city bought Mountain View’s rights to 1 million gallons of water a day and was given 500,000 gallons daily in water rights from Palo Alto. That’s opened the door to development in East Palo Alto again.
The Primary School, along with the Sobrato Organization and the developer of an office project at 2020 Bay Road, paid a combined $1.53 million to help the city buy some of Mountain View’s water supply for East Palo Alto.