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Letter: 'Reasonable solution' could save school

This letter to the editor is from Dominic Liechti, managing director of the German-American International School.

Editor:

On April 9, the Menlo Park City School District Board of Directors will decide whether or not to terminate its 20-plus-year lease of the O'Connor site to the German-American International School (GAIS) effective as of June 2014, leaving GAIS only 14 months to locate, secure, entitle, improve and move into a new campus -- a near impossible mission in this challenging real estate market.

Before voting on this matter, GAIS asks that the district explore and consider an alternative solution that has not yet been presented: accommodating the district's projected elementary school enrollment at Hillview Middle School, at least temporarily.

The district's own enrollment projections show that Hillview Middle School has the capacity to accommodate the projected temporary increase in elementary school enrollment by absorbing some fifth grade classes. This has been done successfully and on a permanent basis in recent years by the nearby school districts of Portola Valley (at Corte Madera), Las Lomitas (at La Entrada) and San Carlos (at Tierra Linda).

Based on our assessment, this option represents a very reasonable solution and win-win for both the district and GAIS. Aside from allowing GAIS an additional year to make an orderly transition to a new campus that ensures the continuing operation of the school, this option would provide tangible benefits to the district as well. It would attain and maintain district target class sizes, avoid taking up field space for portables, require virtually no capital expenditure, permit continued rent revenue from GAIS, and avoid the financial and educational costs and risks of opening a new school before the district is certain that it needs to.

The board's decision on April 9 may ultimately determine the fate of our school and our students. Therefore, we respectfully request that the board's decision be a fully informed one which considers all possible options, including the option of accommodating the projected temporary enrollment increase at Hillview Middle School, at least in the short term.

Dominic Liechti, GAIS managing director

Comments

 +   Like this comment
Posted by Enough
a resident of Encinal School
on Apr 5, 2013 at 9:52 am

Terminate the lease. The site needs to be a neighborhood school.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Selfish
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Apr 5, 2013 at 10:24 am

Let's see...the district needs to turn handsprings and start moving around students so as to accommodate GAIS? After reading the brilliant suggestion from the school, I agree with Enough. Time to pull the plug.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Chill out!
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Apr 5, 2013 at 7:33 pm

Relax! The district is crying wolf. There is plenty of room to accommodate enrollment for the next few years! Go to the board meeting and look at the numbers. They could let gais keep their lease for the next three years and save the money from the rent.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by James Flood solution
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Apr 5, 2013 at 8:59 pm

GAIS should move to shuttered James Flood school in suburban park
It's a surplus Ravenswood district campus, just like OConnor site


 +   Like this comment
Posted by giselle
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Apr 6, 2013 at 12:45 pm

don't think we should rearrange everything to accommodate GAIS. The lease should be terminated.


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