Due to construction at the Palo Verde and Hoover Elementary School sites, the Board of Education unanimously voted to approve the temporary relocation of students at these schools to the Greendell campus.
Palo Verde students will be at Greendell for the 2022-23 school year, while Hoover students will be there from the fall of 2023 to the spring of 2025. This decision, made at the board’s Nov. 2 meeting, has faced community criticism, especially from those with students at Palo Verde.
Parents are concerned about the longer commute to Greendell and the impact it will have on their family’s routine and schedule, especially if their student will need to be driven when they previously walked or biked to school.
Greendell, adjacent to Cubberley Community Center, is used by the Palo Alto Adult School and PAUSD’s pre-kindergarten program.
These programs will continue to operate at Greendell and will not be impacted by the relocation of Palo Verde or Hoover. Superintendent Don Austin said it is only a matter of scheduling to ensure the yard is not being used by everyone all at once.
Austin said Greendell’s buildings are in good shape, and its outdoor play area is better suited for kids than most of the district’s elementary schools.
“It has a big grass area that’s fenced and multiple play structures,” Austin said. “For example, I just walked over to the campus at El Carmelo, and they have two (play structures) and one is predominantly for the kindergarten area. Greendell has six, so they’re nicely equipped. I think we’re going to be able to use the fields at Cubberley, and we’re working on gaining access to the pavilion, their big gym.”
Austin said some of the community concern related to these temporary relocations has to do with confusion about which school is being moved into — Cubberley or Greendell. Palo Verde and Hoover will only be moving into Greendell or portables that will be less than 200 feet away from the campus.
“When I started receiving questions from parents, they were talking about what bad shape the Cubberley buildings are in,” he said. “And they are a mess, but we’re not putting anyone in there so it’s OK.”
Palo Verde parent Deborah Shubb said she is displeased with the move because the commute is inconvenient for her family.
“My son isn’t a regular biker because he’s always walked to Palo Verde, so in that sense, it’s going to hold me up,” Shubb said. “I work, and now I am going to have two schools that I am going to have to commute to, and that might make it difficult for me to be on time for my job.”
She also said she is disappointed this relocation takes place during her son’s final year of elementary school. She was hoping he would be able to complete his elementary school experience at Palo Verde.
Shubb said her son is likewise unhappy about moving, but is trying to stay positive about it because he knows all of his friends will have the same experience.
“He’d rather be at Palo Verde because it’s closer, it’s more convenient and he’s gotten used to the layout of the campus,” she said. “But at the same time, he is relieved that all of his classmates are going to be (at Greendell) too.”
The construction being done at Palo Verde is significantly less than Hoover’s, so the Board decided a temporary relocation was more suitable for that school as opposed to staying on campus. By moving locations, construction time is cut in half, Austin said.
“We were going to have to put portable classrooms on Louis Avenue which is terrible because it would take up the very few parking spaces they have there — they already have one of the most limited pick up and drop off areas in our entire district on a narrow street — so we didn’t love that,” Austin said. “We were also going to have to build a construction road right through the middle of campus as we were knocking down buildings. It would’ve been non-stop noise, vibration and dust.”
Austin said the plan is to eliminate all the portables at Palo Verde by building new classrooms and modernizing pre-existing ones.
The school will also be getting a new multipurpose room and administration area. Since Hoover will be moving to Greendell immediately after Palo Verde, one area of concern is what will happen to Hoover’s planned relocation if there are any construction delays.
However, the approved plan includes Palo Verde moving back while construction is still occuring, Austin said.
“All the classrooms will be done, but they’ll probably still be working on the multi-purpose room and a couple other spaces,” Austin said. “But then that turns into a construction project like we do all the time with students there.”
Austin said the decision to relocate Hoover to Greendell was straightforward because a temporary school was the only option. Since the school opened in 1974, Hoover has not been renovated.
“It’s so far behind that if we did the (less expensive option) and spent about the same amount of money on it as the other schools, it would instantly be the number one on the list to be touched again,” Austin said. “(Hoover has gone) so long without being touched, it made more sense to just knock it down, even if it is pretty dramatic and different from what the district has done in the past.”
While Greendell will be used for the relocation of Palo Verde and Hoover, Austin does not expect the district to use Greendell to this extent in the future.
“We see Greendell as a good option for these two projects because they are both larger in scope than usual,” Austin said. “But I don’t see anything on the horizon that would require a relocation, so Greendell will return to normal after these two projects.”