Mountain View Whisman School District August 2017

MVWSD Board Meeting, August 17, 2017

The Mountain View Whisman Board of Trustees met on August 17, 2017, for the first meeting of the 2017-2018 school year. The discussion focused on the District’s summer activities and upcoming actions this fall.

Enrollment Priorities Task Force (EPTF)

The District and the Board of Trustees began a review of enrollment priorities and grandfathering that will span the 2017-2018 school year, with a final decision on updating both expected in May- June. The twenty-six enrollment priorities used to assign students to schools are convoluted and confusing for families, and the most popular schools in the District, Huff and Bubb elementary, are suffering from overcrowding. New school boundaries adopted this summer will also go into effect in the 2019-2020 school year, raising questions about grandfathering of students and siblings at current school sites.

In the upcoming September meetings, the Board will review data on enrollment and provide direction to the new Enrollment Priorities Task Force (EPTF). The District is already working to make the enrollment lottery more transparent, but the EPTF will focus on updating the current twenty-six enrollment priorities and the District’s grandfathering policy in light of new school boundaries.

The District is gathering input through the EPTF, community focus groups, the online Thought Exchange process, community and Board meetings, and internally. To form the community focus groups, the District is reaching out to neighborhood associations in the communities most impacted by grandfathering policies. The eight focus groups will meet twice during the year.

The EPTF is forming now and is charged: “to provide recommendations on how to streamline the enrollment priorities administrative regulation; look at best practices in enrollment that could help mitigate the impact of future growth; and, provide a recommendation on grandfathering policy to help enact the new boundaries” with a hard deadline for grandfathering. The EPTF will include 1 parent or community member from each school site, 1 staff member from each school site, and two staff members from District administration. The parent/community member applicants are reviewed by the District English Learner Advisory Committee (DELAC) and the District Advisory Committee (DAC).

North Bayshore Development and Impact on MVWSD

The City of Mountain View is nearing the end of its environmental review of the North Bayshore Precise Plan. The plan includes 10,000 housing units and anticipates approximately 2,358 new students for MVWSD. To meet this increase in enrollment along with 842 new students from developments already under construction the District would need to build three additional neighborhood elementary schools and one middle school. These student numbers do not include the East Whisman area which is also undergoing development. Although the Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for North Bayshore says that developers must pay fees to offset costs to the District, the construction costs of four new schools, not including land acquisition, are projected to exceed developer fees and state funding by $122 million.

Dr. Rudolph stressed to the Board that the EIR must address the increase in students  by requiring developers to provide land or take schools into account in developments. He also encouraged the Board to begin working with an architect now on a vision for new schools. The cost of land means the District may need to consider urban school models with a smaller footprint or included in larger developments with housing or even K-8 schools. The Board agreed to hold a Special Session to further discuss the North Bayshore plans before the City Council votes on the final EIR.

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MVWSD Special Session, August 29th, 2017

On August 29th, the MVWSD Board of Trustees held a special meeting to further discuss the North Bayshore development and its impact on the District. Given a projected increase of 3,200 students in the development area, Dr. Rudolph called for the Board to:

  • Develop a communication package on the North Bayshore Precise Plan and share it with both the City Council and community members;
  • Send out a Request for Proposals (RFP) for architects to begin planning for growth in North Bayshore;
  • Form a Board subcommittee to create a North Bayshore Facilities Master Plan in the next twelve to eighteen months. This working group, similar to the Student Facilities Improvement Plan Committee of 2008-2009, should include District staff, parents, City staff, and business and community partners;
  • Over the next two years, also develop an East Whisman subcommittee and Facilities Master Plan; and,
  • Beginning in 2019, look at land acquisition, determine funding sources, finalize plans, start working on staffing formulas, and develop school boundaries for North Bayshore and eventually East Whisman.

District staff will continue meeting with city staff to discuss the North Bayshore Plan. The three new North Bayshore neighborhoods of Joaquin, Shorebird, and Pear are expected to add 946, 706, and 706 students respectively. 1,255 of the North Bayshore students will live in affordable housing units. The East Whisman Precise Plan is predicted to add 1,077 new students, making for a total of 4,086 students.

Construction of four new schools for the North Bayshore area is expected to cost $165.6 million. Developer fees of $16.6 million and state funding of $26.7 million leave the District with a $122.4 million shortfall, not including the cost of land in an area priced at $10-$15 million per acre. The constraints of funding and land availability mean the District may look to land sharing arrangements with the City around green space, a new library, or athletic fields. Urban school models of multiple stories, mixed use, or K-8 should also be explored.

Board members discussed the contents of a letter to the City Council that District staff will draft and bring to the next meeting for approval. The letter will state that the Board supports the development of affordable housing in Mountain View and wants to mitigate traffic impacts by locating neighborhood schools in North Bayshore. Trustees emphasized the need for a significant impact on schools to be included in the Environmental Impact Report for the North Bayshore Precise Plan, both in terms of land and financial shortfalls. The Board also stressed the importance of cooperative relationships between the city, developers, and the District in planning for the future.

— Devon Conley, Observer

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