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Two-in-one school in works?
March 07, 2012, 05:00 AM By Heather Murtagh Daily Journal Staff
Growing enrollment and a lack of open land in San Carlos may mean school officials could house two schools on an existing site, officials said this week.

Last year, San Carlos Elementary School District officials said they must add capacity because of the growing number of children at all of its schools. On Thursday, the board will discuss drawings of a possible solution: Building a new elementary school on the Central Middle School site.

Board President Seth Rosenblatt said planning to use district-owned property seemed to be the best solution thus far. While he is open to other alternatives, Rosenblatt added building on district-owned property would save money. Additionally, before moving forward, the district will need to decide on the best possible configuration.

Configurations prepared by architect Paul Byrne will be shared Thursday. Essentially, the proposal calls for splitting the existing parcel into two separate campuses. The northern campus would house Central Middle School, which would require upgrades like two-story classroom buildings and a performing arts building. The southern campus would be dedicated to a new school with a large grass area, play fields and a separate drop-off loop connecting to Arroyo Street.

If a new school were to be built, the district would need to also study ways to cover the costs. That’s often completed through a bond measure. Superintendent Craig Baker estimated the bond could cost between $29 million to $59 million, depending on the needs.

Thursday night’s discussion will not only cover the possible facilities set up but which grades would be served. For example, the new school could be a traditional elementary school or serve fourth through fifth graders throughout the district.

At joint meetings between representatives of the school board and City Council, ideas for working together to solve the issue of growth have emerged. One possible solution thrown out was a land swap. Another option was to build where a school once was and sharing the park space when school is not in session. Laureola School was an elementary school on the east side of El Camino Real built in 1951. It was closed in 1978 due to declining enrollment. Today, Laureola Park, located at 503 Old County Road, remains.

At the same meeting, the board will discuss middle school electives.

Throughout this school year, district administrators have been meeting to discuss curriculum, instruction, professional development, scheduling and other issues. The group identified top priorities for the next two years: consistent course offerings; define what is considered "core” curriculum; expand foreign language offerings; and expand elective offerings. In terms of scheduling, possible changes could happen at both Central and Tierra Linda middle schools next year, according to staff report by Lynette Hovland, director of curriculum instruction and accountability.

Central is considering piloting an alternative to the six-period schedule with either a seven-period or block schedule. Doing so would allow more elective opportunities for students in the lower grades and result in the opportunity to bring back foreign language, Hovland wrote. Tierra Linda is considering adding another section of French and a technology/journalism/yearbook elective.

The board meets 7 p.m. at the Central Middle School library, 828 Chestnut St.

Heather Murtagh can be reached by email: or by phone: (650) 344-5200 ext. 105.

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