The search to find a new home for an alternative high school in the San Mateo Union High School District is still on, but the district has passed its deadline on finding property to make sure a good fit is found.
Superintendent Scott Laurence gave himself until October to find a more central location before submitting his recommendations to the Board of Trustees. The school is currently housed at aging facilities on the campus of the former Crestmoor High School in San Bruno. Laurence and Elizabeth McManus, deputy superintendent of business services, previously talked about the difficulties they were encountering in finding the right space for the high school. At the same time, they are also looking for a new location for the outdated district office.
The district discussed one piece of land at 45 Edwards Court in Burlingame Thursday night, according to a closed session agenda item. McManus confirmed the Burlingame address is being considered for a new district office. Other interested parties are also looking at the space though, she said.
“It’s centrally located and provides flexibility,” she said.
Because of certain restrictions under the state’s Field Act, the district has taken a 1240 Bayshore Highway ECC International corporation’s offices off the table for the Peninsula High School relocation because of its proximity to Highway 101 and San Francisco International Airport. The district has also been involved in talks about parcels not on the market for the high school. The district is still in the developmental stage of the process, McManus said.
“In the next couple months, the board is going to make a decision,” McManus said. “We’re trying to figure out what economically makes most sense and what is best for the students. There continues to be a lot of open discussion because the board wants to make the right decision. It’s such a big decision.”
Some school board members wish the process was moving along quicker.
“I would have liked to meet the October deadline,” said Trustee Marc Friedman. “Hopefully, we can wrap it up in the next month or so. There’s no reason to go on much longer.”
Board President Linda Lees Dwyer agreed with Friedman, preferring more progress faster and noting the district only has so much money to spend on purchasing land and building a new school.
“We need to push more quickly,” she said. “Peninsula is fine now, it’s worked for years, along with the buses. We have to take a hard look to rebuild up at Peninsula and make sure all options are explored as part of the process.”
Lees Dwyer even suggested looking at expanding the adult school, currently housed next to San Mateo High School in San Mateo, up to Peninsula’s current San Bruno location and creating joint programs with Skyline College. She questioned whether the district is serving the San Bruno community as well as it could.
“There’s transportation, the buses, at no cost,” she said. “The parents need to make sure they (students) take it.”
Meanwhile, Trustee Peter Hanley agreed with McManus that the process is moving along and the district is trying to do a diligent search.
“There’s just not a lot of available property along the Peninsula we could find for a school,” he said. “We thought we would be able to come back around October with a decision, but we didn’t feel we could at the time.”
Peninsula High School students seek out the alternative school for a variety of reasons, one of which may be the need for a new environment. One option, locating the school on the San Mateo High School campus, drew criticism by some in the community and concern by some law enforcement officials. Renovating the current location is an option, but district officials have said it is far away from many students’ homes.
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