Almanac

Viewpoint - April 3, 2013

Letter: 'Reasonable solution' could save German-American school

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

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