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Today: What will new high schools focus on?

New schools would be built in Menlo Park and San Carlos

Themes for two new small high schools will be up for discussion at the Wednesday, Jan. 14, meeting of the board of the Sequoia Union High School District.

The board meets at 5:30 p.m. at the district office at 480 James Ave. in Redwood City.

The proposed new schools -- at 150 Jefferson Drive in Menlo Park and 535 Old County Road in San Carlos -- will have themes, such as a focus on technology or the arts, in part to make them attractive and draw students away from Carlmont and Menlo-Atherton high schools.

Current enrollments in elementary and middle schools are expected to build pressure at Menlo-Atherton and Carlmont over the next several years, peaking in the 2020-21 school year. For the two small themed schools, the district plans to start with freshman classes and build enrollment year by year to a maximum of about 400 students each.

The board is also set to discuss spending to expand capacity on each major campus, including M-A and Woodside high schools, in advance of the surging enrollment. Voters approved Measure A in June, giving the district authority to borrow up to $265 million on the bond market to build new classrooms and related facilities.

Also on the agenda: In what may be an unprecedented development, the board will examine a district budget formatted to be readable by the average person. In the past, a Sequoia district chief financial officer explained the inscrutably formatted annual budget by blaming software requirements that forced the district to eschew other more readable formats.

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