Sequoia high school district plans new school in 'Menlo Park area' | January 15, 2014 | Almanac | Almanac Online |


Schools - January 15, 2014

Sequoia high school district plans new school in 'Menlo Park area'

by Dave Boyce

Enrollment projections for Menlo-Atherton High School show a 31 percent increase by the 2020-21 school year. That number is at least 7 percentage points higher than projections for the Sequoia Union High School District as a whole, so it makes sense that the district plans to build a new high school in "the Menlo Park area."

For months, district officials have been proposing two new small high schools of 300 to 400 students each to address a gradual increase of enrollment over the next seven years. A note on a discussion item for the school board meeting on Wednesday, Jan. 15, is the first mention that one of the schools "will be located in the Menlo Park area." The other school "will be situated between Redwood City and San Carlos."

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

Enrollment projections in the district, and the possible consequence of evenly distributing the load by reassigning neighborhoods to different schools, was of intense interest at a series of community meetings in 2013. Families from the Las Lomitas Elementary School District argued passionately to keep graduates of La Entrada Middle School as an intact cohort by assigning them all to M-A. Much of the enrollment growth is coming from the Las Lomitas and Menlo Park districts.

Just as passionate to attend M-A were families from East Palo Alto whose students have, for decades, had to ride buses to Woodside and Carlmont high school in compliance with a court-ordered desegregation plan that expired in the 1980s but carried on nevertheless. M-A will thus feel the brunt of the district's higher enrollment.

At the Jan. 15 meeting, the board will discuss a draft map of neighborhood and school boundaries. Among the highlights:

• All East Palo Alto students will be assigned to M-A. Open enrollment options will continue, including the option to ride a bus to Carlmont or Woodside high.

• All Las Lomitas households will be assigned to M-A, reassigning the 10 to 15 households assigned to Woodside High but with a guaranteed option to attend M-A.

• Households from the Avenues neighborhood in the southern part of North Fair Oaks will continue at M-A, while households to the north will be re-assigned to Sequoia High.

Also on the agenda, and related to the new Common Core standards: The board is expected to choose a traditional math pathway rather than that used internationally. Math teachers at two of the four comprehensive high schools prefer the international curriculum, according to district staff.


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