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District to add 40 elementary classrooms With unexpected enrollment bump in past two years, officials scramble to add space by Chris Kenrick
ecisions may come by June on where to build up to 30 new elementary-school classrooms in Palo Alto in the next five years, school officials agreed Tuesday (March 8). An additional 10 new classrooms already are under construction or in
the pipeline at Ohlone, Fairmeadow and Duveneck schools. With an unexpected bump in elementary-age enrollment in the past two years that many believe could continue, officials are scrambling to get classrooms ready.
The need for new elementary space — particularly in the southern part of town — means that all available real estate will be scrutinized, including the city-owned former Ventura School site, the Greendell School campus now used for pre-school programs and the Hoover and Ohlone campuses, which currently house district-wide “choice programs.” Superintendent Kevin Skelly said the district must prepare itself to handle as many as 568 additional K-5
students in the next five years — the size of a large elementary school. In a four-hour study session on enrollment and facilities planning Tuesday, school-board members struggled to discern a trend in recent data, saying they hope to match location of the new classrooms to neighborhoods where the growth is occurring. In the decade before 2009, enrollment growth was fairly even around the city, but the past two years has seen a strong bump in the southern
part of town, leading to some children being “overflowed” from their neighborhood schools and sent to others. “Could it be as simple as driving down Stanford Avenue and seeing all the new houses, or driving down West Bayshore and seeing all the new developments by the JCC?” board member Camille Townsend asked. Board member Barb Mitchell argued that new housing developments (continued on page 9)
AT&T plan gets stormy reception Proposal to affix antenna to phone poles meets with opposition from residents by Sarah Trauben
A Veronica Weber
Briana (second from left), Andrea Throndson, community connections developer for the nonprofit Abilities United (center), Joaquin (right) and Michael (far right) present Dan Logan, former executive director of the YMCA in Palo Alto, with a bouquet of flowers, get-well card and cookie bouquet as part of the center’s new “Make My Day” program.
‘Make My Day’ program spreads cheer to locals Abilities United participants arrange, deliver pick-me-ups in new service by Sarah Trauben
an Logan warmly welcomed four flower- and treat-bearing visitors from the Make My Day team Tuesday (March 8). It was the third delivery for the newly formed crew of developmentally disabled Abilities United participants, who aim to spread joy by preparing and delivering a free pick-me-up or thank you to those who have helped others or are in need of some good cheer. “Wow, that’s a handful,” Logan
said as participants handed him a ribbon-bound selection of carnations, peach and yellow-toned roses, star lilies and irises. “Thank you, everyone, this is wonderful!” The Make My Day team members hone their organizational skills by preparing bouquets every other Tuesday before delivering them to honorees suggested by community members. Gently guided by communitytraining instructor Josh Pniower,
they pick up a selection of donated flowers at Michaela’s Flower Shop in downtown Palo Alto, choose and arrange their favorites and decorate a card. “I enjoy doing this with you, Josh,” a participant named Michael said. An enthusiastic helper, he sorted through donated flowers and pointed out unsafe rose thorns. Delivering their gifts personally offers participants a lesson in empathy and allows them to celebrate “unsung heroes,” Andrea Throndson, Abilities United Community Connections developer, said. “Even disabled people can know how good it feels to give back,” she added. Tuesday’s Make My Day participants flashed shy but infectious smiles as they handed Logan the bouquet along with homemade cookies-on-a-stick and a large, handdecorated get-well card. The former executive director of
the YMCA on Ross Road in Palo Alto, Logan was selected as one of the first to receive the goodies as thanks for his community service as well as to boost his spirits after some recent medical procedures. His wife works for Abilities United. “Have we succeeded in making your day?” Throndson asked. “Yes, you have!” Logan told the team. Anyone can suggest someone to be honored with the Make My Day delivery of flowers, homemade treats and a card, according to Throndson. “It recognizes people who don’t ordinarily get recognized. It brings awareness to ordinary extraordinariness,” Throndson said. More information is available by contacting Andrea Throndson at email@example.com. N Editorial Intern Sarah Trauben can be e-mailed at strauben@ paweekly.com.
n AT&T presentation intended to inform Palo Alto residents about plans to shore up spotty phone reception by installing distributed-antenna systems on existing Old Palo Alto telephone poles met with a stormy reception Tuesday night. Resident Bill Moore told AT&T officials that unless the company were to use existing residential and business Wi-Fi systems to augment coverage, he personally “will fight this ugly, ridiculous-looking tower like crazy.” His statement was met with applause by many of 50 to 60 attendees at the open house held at the Cubberley Community Center Theatre. AT&T plans to improve its coverage in areas where there are topographical and structural impediments by replacing nine traditional “macrocell” structures with shorter and smaller distributed-antenna systems fed by fiber cable from its existing central office in Mountain View. The telecommunications company currently has similar installations in Chicago and the Noe Valley and Presidio areas of San Francisco; other proposals are in motion across the Bay Area. “These technologies are being used to experiment with us,” Moore said. In addition to possible health effects, he cited concerns about aesthetics, dropping real-estate values, and the potentially noisy hum of cooling fans in the proposed installations. Several residents cited a National Institutes of Health study, published Feb. 22 in the Journal of the American Medical Association, showing that cell phone usage changes glucose levels in the brain. (continued on page 9)
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Section 1 of the March 11, 2011 edition of the Palo Alto Weekly