Menlo Park City School District Adding a New School in the Willows

The Menlo Park elementary schools have experienced increasing enrollment over the past several years, citing enrollment growth of over 40% in the past 10 years. The school board and parent advisory committees have explored several options to alleviate overcrowding and to accommodate future growth over and the ultimate recommendation was made for the Menlo Park City School District to utilize a school campus already owned by the district to build a new school.

The new campus location is the current home of the German American International School (GAIS) in the Willows neighborhood located at 275 Elliott Drive. The school district had been renting the campus to the GAIS for more than 20 years and most recently had been renewing the lease on a short-term basis as the board considered expansion options. The GAIS rental term will end with this school year and is scheduled to vacate the campus on May 15, 2015. Construction of the new Menlo Park district school is scheduled to start immediately in May with the intention of opening for students in August 2016.

The new school will be named Laurel Upper Campus and will serve grades 3-5. It will be fed by students from the current Laurel Elementary School, which is now a K-3 school. The current Laurel school will be renamed Laurel Lower Campus and change to a K-2 school. Students will continue on to Hillview for grades 6-8.

This new school proposal was widely supported by the community and bond Measure W was approved by 75% of the voters to raise $23 million for the construction of the new campus.

Given the age, condition and configuration of the current buildings on the Laurel Upper school site, the decision was made to start over with ground-up construction of a new two-story building. The new school will have a capacity of 360 students with 16 classrooms in addition to several special purpose rooms (library, art, science, etc).

Beginning with the 2015/16 school year, the GAIS will be moving short-term to the former East Palo Alto Academy facility on Pope Street in the Willows. Longer term, the GAIS hopes to develop a site in the North Fair Oaks neighborhood as their permanent home.

The new Laurel Upper School will be a nice amenity for Willows residents, whose children will be able to walk and bike to school.

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