BY ALLISON LEVITSKY
Daily Post Staff Writer
The Palo Alto school district says its current enrollment doesn’t call for a new middle school or high school anytime soon — but wants to make sure it has room to grow in the future.
The school board voted unanimously last night (Feb. 26) to formally affirm that a plan to redevelop Cubberley Community Center — the district’s third high school until declining enrollment led to its closure in 1979 — include three components. School officials want to make sure that:
- The 35-acre property at 4000 Middlefield Road retains enough space to accommodate the construction of a full middle or high school;
- The site would accommodate school district employee housing, and
- The option exists to build a new district office on the Cubberley site to replace the current facility at 25 Churchill Ave.
Board member Ken Dauber pointed out that the purpose of the decision was to ensure that the Cubberley redevelopment plan would retain those options, not a decision to move forward with any or all of the options.
A report from Bond Program Manager Bob Golton explains that while the district doesn’t need a new school at this point, Silicon Valley is seeing “incredible job growth” that requires housing for workers.
“And with the new families coming into the Valley, there is a need for schools for the children,” Golton wrote. “There is great emphasis by the state and the city to construct housing.”
Given the real estate market, it’s unlikely that the school district would be able to buy such a large lot in the future.
School district employee housing
District officials decided to include the employee housing component because, Golton wrote, the subject of teacher housing had become a “common topic of conversation for Silicon Valley school districts.”
Schools benefit when teachers live nearby because they can attend after-school and evening activities, and offering employee housing helps recruitment and retention of teachers, said Golton.
“There are models now springing up all over the Bay Area,” Golton wrote. “PAUSD, which targets the best job candidates, needs to be able to offer this benefit.”
The district also wants the option of moving its district office to Cubberley, which Golton said would provide better work space, professional development facilities and public access.
New use for 25 Churchill
The current district office at 25 Churchill Ave. could house “innovative and targeted programs” for students near Palo Alto High School, Golton said.
The plan to redevelop Cubberley has been in progress for a number of years. The city owns 8 acres of Cubberley, and the district owns 27.
The city leases the district’s 27 acres to operate the site as Cubberley Community Center.
The lease is currently set to expire in December and includes a condition that the city and district will develop a master plan for the site by the end of the year.
Concordia, the New Orleans-based consultants the city and district hired, held several public meetings to gather feedback on the future of Cubberley.
‘A shared village’
The plan currently envisions the site as a “shared village” with facilities for a possible future school and community center spaces, including an amphitheater, a health and wellness center, two gyms on top of each other, a pool, a cafe, a maker space, affordable housing and more.