San Mateo-Foster City Elementary School District officials are working on options to address overcrowding after the failure of Measure P, a $130 million bond proposal that would have added capacity.
The district plans to implement four strategies, in the following order: take up all empty rooms available in schools, overflow students to schools where there is space, implement a.m./p.m. kindergarten districtwide and increase class sizes in grades 4-8 districtwide, according to a statement by district Superintendent Cynthia Simms.
“I am disappointed by the vote, but I respect that the majority of our voters want a different solution to the increasing student enrollment facing our schools and to the funding of the classroom technology required to ensure student access to 21st century learning strategies,” Cynthia Simms, superintendent of the San Mateo-Foster City Elementary School District, said in an official statement. “Following a review of the final voting results, and consultation with key school district and community leaders, I will present a plan for our Board of Trustees’ consideration on next steps to engage the varied constituencies of the district and ways to address these challenges together.”
Measure P only received 46.6 percent approval, short of 55 percent voter approval it required Tuesday, according to semi-official election results from the San Mateo County Elections Office. The district’s Board of Trustees placed Measure P on the ballot this summer to rebuild and expand Bowditch Middle School to add Foster City fifth graders and reopen Knolls Elementary School in San Mateo for the 2016-17 school year. It would have cost property owners $19 per $100,000 assessed property value.
The measure aimed to help the district’s issues with overcrowding. For the past five years, district enrollment has grown from 1,703 students from 10,079 to 11,782.
Trustee Ellen Mallory Ulrich helped lead the opposition campaign and had worried about equity in the district between schools in Foster City and San Mateo.
“With the level of engagement in the community so high and the community members’ knowledge of the district’s issues and needs so sharp and current, we are greatly anticipating a community wide discussion on a plan that serves all of our students to the best of our ability,” Mallory Ulrich said in an email.
The Bowditch plan would have brought the school from 1,000 to 1,500 students. The school would grow up and out — adding a floor and expanding on the ground level as well. Bowditch is currently grades 6-8.
The measure would have allowed Knolls in San Mateo, which has been used as a temporary overflow school, to reopen for the 2016-17 school year. This would have happened following a design process and construction of about three years, taking about $18 million. About $60 million to $80 million would have gone to Bowditch in Foster City expanding from 1,000 to 1,500 students, adding a floor and expanding on the ground level to address growing enrollment.
Yes on P was backed by those such as Simms, board President Lory Lorimer Lawson and Measure P co-chairs Daniela Relaford and Doug Stoveland.
Voters previously approved Measure L, a $175 million bond measure in 2008. There is still $70 million in funds left from Measure L, Lawson previously said.
Last year, the district nixed a $130 million bond measure that would have proposed buying up land in Foster City to build a new school so it could better communicate its goals with the public. This came after the Superintendent’s Committee on Overcrowding Relief recommended the board replace Bowditch and move fifth graders there, which was part of failed bond measure.
The district will review the strategies and processes it used during the campaign as part of its next steps, along with reviewing the polling data and consulting with its various constituent groups, said Molly Barton, assistant superintendent of student services.
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