The Palo Alto School Board of Education will continue to discuss methods of managing school enrollment when it meets on Feb. 23.
At the Jan. 6 meeting, the majority of the school board opposed a proposal to manage rising enrollment numbers across the district by creating a PK-12 school at Cubberley Community Center. Board members Ken Dauber, Melissa Baten Caswell and Terry Godfrey rejected Supt. Max McGee’s proposal for a new school while board members Heidi Emberling and Camille Townsend supported the plans.
“If we really needed a high school, we would build one,” Dauber said. “The large majority [of teachers just] don’t see crowding as a problem.”
According to Dauber, the district does not lack funding to build a school; he and fellow board members Caswell and Godfrey simply believe the money would be better spent elsewhere.
“I don’t see construction money as an obstacle,” Dauber said. “We still have $60 million of bond money for elementary school construction and for [a] new middle school if needed.”
According to Dauber, the money will be better spent if rerouted to counseling services at current schools.
“There’s a committee forming that will have teachers and parents and students and staff members looking to improve counseling services,” Dauber said. “There’s been a lot of data over the last couple of updates [showing that] teacher-advisor models are working better for students.”
Dauber looks to improving and adding academic programs at both schools.
“A lot of interesting project-based learning that has come out of the [Enrollment Management Advisory Committee] process [the] district [is] looking to invest more in,” Dauber said. “What I’m particularly excited about is introducing project based learning into regular curriculum.”
Despite the clear dissent, however, Townsend remains optimistic.
“There’s room for movement on the part of school board members as well as they learn new information,” Townsend said. “I don’t think we’re done with this.”