With ground broken and construction starting on a new Foster City elementary school, education officials are turning their attention to specific conversations regarding operations at the new campus.
The San Mateo-Foster City Elementary School District Board of Trustees is slated Thursday, Aug. 22, to begin discussing potential enrollment boundaries, growth patterns and other details of the school expected to open in early 2021.
Board President Shara Watkins said she embraces the upcoming discussion as a means of celebrating the progress underway, while also looking ahead to collaboration with the community to determine school policies.
“It’s really exciting that everyone gets to be involved in creating what the new school looks like,” said Watkins.
No decisions are slated to be made at the meeting, which will provide officials and members of the school community an initial opportunity to discuss the issues.
As a first order of business, officials will begin discussing enrollment boundaries for the campus located at the former Charter Square shopping center, near the intersection of Beach Park and Shell boulevards.
Acknowledging in some instances that school boundaries can be catalyst for controversy, Watkins said she feels the new school may be able to avoid such issues due to the community’s geographic composition.
Noting the campus is bounded on most sides by Central Lake, the city’s main lagoon, Watkins she feels the initial proposed enrollment map spanning along stretches of Beach Park and Foster City boulevards in the north and eastern segment to the water on the south and western end is a common-sense approach.
“There’s some pretty natural boundaries. Those seem to kind of make sense,” she said, while noting community input will be essential in ultimately determining the final map.
As it relates to enrollment, another priority for officials will be establishing a plan to phase in classes over time until the school reaches it capacity of around 400 students.
Initially, officials are planning for kindergarten and first-grade classes to start their 2020-21 school year in a temporary location or on their current school site and classes will move with their teachers when the school opens in early 2021, according to a district report. The temporary location is yet to be determined by officials who hope to pick the potential site by October, according to the report.
As classes are added in subsequent years, students from inside the enrollment boundaries will enjoy a priority opportunity to return, followed by their siblings, until capacity is reached. Watkins said protocol is yet to be formed for students hoping to transfer from an existing site to the new school.
Watkins noted other details, such as the eventual school name, mascot and administration still need to be settled, while suggesting community input will largely guide such conversations.
Officials approved building the school to combat enrollment issues in Foster City, as the existing campuses struggled to accommodate the growing student body. A majority of the financing for the project is proposed to be drawn from the Measure X bond.
Officials used some of the tax revenue to purchase the site from the former shopping center owner, and also struck an arrangement for the realty company to develop the site.
The deal eventually fell apart, allowing school officials to purchase the cleared land for $30 million and independently identify a separate builder. In June, officials selected Overaa & Company to construct the site, in a deal worth $29.9 million.
Considering the occasional hurdles the project has encountered on its way to construction and the detailed discussions to hosted by officials, Watkins said she is ready to start discussions about the school getting up and running.
“This has been many, many years in the works and many different councils and superintendents and boards have collaborated to make this happen and the fact that we are breaking ground on the school and it’s happening, I do not think anyone could be more thrilled,” she said.
The San Mateo-Foster City Elementary School District Board of Trustees meets 7 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 22, in the district office, 1170 Chess Drive, Foster City.
(650) 344-5200 ext. 105