Push to finish Hillview campus rebuild in Menlo Park results in changes to school calendar


Kids at Hillview Middle School will have a longer summer vacation next year as the school district enters its final push to finish the massive campus renovation project by fall 2012, Superintendent Ken Ranella of the Menlo Park City School District announced on Feb. 2.

But before students start rejoicing, they should know that the longer summer holiday will mean there will be no February "break week" next year, and that the Thanksgiving break this and next year will be reduced from five days to two.

The district must meet the fall 2012 deadline for opening the new buildings at Hillview "in order to accommodate the projected 180 additional middle school students" on the campus, on Santa Cruz Avenue in Menlo Park, Mr. Ranella said in a written statement to the community.

The school board approved the schedule last month, after the teachers' union agreed to the changes to the traditional calendar.

The 2011-12 school year ends two weeks earlier than the current school year: on June 1, 2012. The current school year ends on June 15, 2011. School will open in 2012 after Labor Day, on Sept. 4.

In 2012, the traditional February break will be reduced to two days: Friday and Monday, Feb. 17 and 20.

With the extended summer break, the extra days in the classroom during the regular school year are required to fulfill state mandates spelling out minimum hours in a school year.

The district broke ground last July on its project to re-create the 9.36-acre Hillview campus -- a project that includes the building of 85,000 square feet of new facilities and the demolition of the old buildings. New construction is under way, and building demolition is scheduled for the expanded summer break next year.

New buildings will include a 400-seat performing arts-multipurpose room. The existing gym will be modernized, and a new fitness room and kitchen facilities will be part of that project, according to the district's website.

In his statement, Mr. Ranella wrote: "We recognize how the school calendar impacts the lives of our district families and regret any inconvenience these changes may produce. It is critical that the Hillview campus be fully operational for the first day of school in the fall of 2012. This calendar scenario will give us the time necessary to ensure for a smooth opening of the new school which will eventually serve students in all three elementary schools."

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