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Lexington School Student Relocation OK'd

Los Gatos Union School District trustees heard from District staff and parents about the costs and effects of moving Lexington students to Fisher.

After lengthy public comment and discussion about geological hazards, trustees voted Tuesday evening to relocate Lexington Elementary School students to R.J. Fisher Middle in the fall.

Trustees, however, said they would revisit the matter at their May 15 meeting.

LGUSD Assistant Superintendent of Business Services Leslie Paulides called the move an interim housing solution for the approximate 170 students that currently attend Lexington and who will move to Fisher Middle School at the start of the 2012-13 school year.  

Paulides, LGUSD consultants Melinda Lum from HMC Architects and Rick Kramer from Kramer Project Development provided cost options for the interim housing.

Paulides asked trustees to provide feedback and direction to “have enough runway to get the site ready by August.” 

The move could add a new playground structure at Fisher for the incoming Lexington students, an additional building on the west side of the district office for administrative purposes, a club house and also some flexible areas for Fisher student-use, Paulides said. 

Options for the proposed interim housing plan were considered after Lexington and Fisher parents, teachers and administrators and Los Gatos-Saratoga Recreation representatives met with Paulides, Lum and Kramer on April 23 and again on April 26. 

Key themes discussed by the group included the need for:

  • Adequate play space and green space
  • Adequate storage
  • Dedicated space to offer quality programs
  • Driveway, parking, drop-off and pick-up safety
  • Accomodation for some of the lost space for middle school students
  • Adequate bathroom facilities 

According to Paulides, the group focused on what is best for the kids and the importance of a timeline for a solution and a willingness to compromise.  

Lexington parents and teachers expressed concern that the interim plan may easily become a permanent one and that the children will be harmed as a result.  

One parent said that it didn’t make sense to put together an interim plan  without knowing where the money to pay for the plan would come from. 

Others expressed concerns that the future is too uncertain with respect to Lexington and that spending $1.5 million to construct an interim housing site hastily is not a reasonable thing to do. 

Trustees Tina Orsi-Hartigan and Doug Halbert were not present during the meeting. 

The interim housing plan came about after  

LGUSD Superintendent Diana Abbati wrote in her blog on April 16 that trustees did not vote to close Lexington, but to stop spending LGUSD monies on engineers, architects and consultants.

She noted that trustees also moved forward with the interim housing plan “while the district contacts the CGS to confirm whether or not the additional work required will suffice to ever getting the green light to build a new school at the current Lexington site.”

The decision has angered many Lexington parents, teachers and Los Gatos residents. 

The district has spent approximately $4 million to gain the needed approvals from the state for the Lexington project, according to education officials.

The school, if it were to be built on its present site, would cost about $21 million, Paulides said. 

Money to build the campus was supposed to come from Measure E, a bond measure approved by voters in June of 2010. 

As one parent said, the Lexington community is unhappy because they worked hard to pass the initiative, they have been told they must vacate their current campus at the end of the school year, they are going to be housed indefinitely in cramped interim housing behind Fisher and they are being denied the building of their new campus.

vicki runnion May 02, 2012 at 03:24 PM
I am bothered by the relocation of the students. As a neighbor, I cannot see how the traffic can be controlled. Where are the "interim" housing units being located? Are there enough bathrooms? Fisher is already at or above capacity for students. This is a major move and I don't believe it has been throughly planned. The impact on the parent to drive their child down the hill and through the traffic for their child to arrive on time is a lot of stress to add to the family. Please try and find a site closer to their homes for "interim" school. Vicki
Mckenna Smith May 02, 2012 at 04:55 PM
Did the Board talk about how the commute will affect these parents that live in the LG Mountains! Unbelievable! Yesterday, Patch had an article about 2 traffic accidents in the afternoon and about the guy killed Monday on state Highway 17 by the Cats restaurant.
Bonnie Westman May 02, 2012 at 07:12 PM
I suspect the Board will give further consideration to the traffic and commute issues after hearing from a large number of parents on this issue last night. I understand that the Board cannot continue to put money into more and more geo testing, however, I really feel for the Lex parents and teachers. I have listened to dozens of them speak passionately about their school community and I have to believe there is a better alternative than moving the kids to Fisher.
Tim Anderson Fulkerth May 02, 2012 at 08:27 PM
The true "interim housing" is the present Lexington site, until the site is DECLARED unfit or a new site is found and a school built. The potential hazard driving this move must be addressed (most likely for less money than the "interim" solutions).
Sheila Sanchez (Editor) May 03, 2012 at 01:25 AM
The issue that would have me frustrated the most, if I were a parent in the LGUSD, is that trustees have discussed the relocation of Lexington Elementary School students since April 10. They then broached the subject again on April 24, then last night, May 1 and Bonnie Westman is reporting that they'll once again discuss it on May 15. I don't understand why the issue of whether to relocate needs to be discussed so much. Sure, it's a very upsetting decision to parents, but why do trustees need to continue to revisit this and not make a final decision?
Jim Thrall May 03, 2012 at 03:35 AM
So, if there isn’t going to be construction at Lexington AND the school is not condemned, then why are we relocating kids? Maybe we should just wait until after the next election or initiate a recall and replace this Board of Trustees with one that can make a logical decision in the best interests of the families and children and not simply act out of fear spurred by appropriately overcautious lawyers and overly political Board members. I hope Board members are not only paying attention but actually spending time with families of Lexington students and forming working groups to try and figure out a community solution to the issue. I hope that’s the case, but I am not hearing any reports of that type of dialogue or footwork taking place. If a board member is doing this. A single one – please let us know in these comments or contact Sheila so she can report on those efforts. Sitting on a board looking good for meetings is no way to make the difficult decisions of a high-end school district. This entire issue is a bungle. I don’t have answers, just a lot of questions. I remain a bit confused. Can anyone help me?
Irene Aida Garza-Ortiz May 03, 2012 at 05:06 AM
This does seem a bit confusing. But hey I don't have any children so I wouldn't be in the know!
Dyan Chan May 03, 2012 at 05:07 AM
I don't have answers either, but I can tell you that Superintendent Abbati came to the Van Meter HSC meeting last Wednesday at 8:15 a.m. (after the board meeting that went till nearly midnight the night before). According to Ms. Abbati the district has had a lot dialogue on potential solutions; for example, inquiries into the possibility of merging with the Loma Prieta and/or Lakeside school districts, discussions with town officials on the possibility of using the old library as an interim site, overtures to the owners of the North 40, discussions with the high school district on the possibility of leasing or sharing property (to move administrative offices around, not to house Lexington students). It did sound like the district is trying to find solutions--and I think the Imagine task force is dedicated to working on the problem too. From what Ms. Abbati said, none of the inquiries to date have yielded promising information ... I get the feeling the district would be more than happy to share promising information on long-term interim housing or a permanent location for Lexington if they had any! BTW, it is my understanding that the plan has always been to do interim housing for Lexington students at Fisher (originally during the time it would have taken to rebuild Lexington School at its current site). Ms. Abbati said the Lexington kids will be in the P wing, not in portables.
Dyan Chan May 03, 2012 at 05:13 AM
Also, I have to mention that at Fisher orientation last Thursday, Fisher Principal Lisa Fraser made a point to say that she knows there are a lot of community concerns and issues right now, but that "all students are welcome here [at Fisher]--whether they are sixth-through-eighth-graders or Kindergarten-through-fifth graders." She really seems phenomenal, and we are lucky to have her!
John Smith May 03, 2012 at 06:44 AM
Here is common sense and reality. LGUSD has NO PLAN for a new school but yet they want to disrupt a community and relocate a bunch of very young kids all the while destroying the world those kids know. It could take three years to complete a new school... costs will rise beyond the current escalation... this is common sense. Kids forced out of a school that survived the Loma Prieta earthquake just fine... kids put into "portables" (essentially trailers sitting on cinder-blocks)... Where is the common sense? Are those portables safer? Mountain kids sent to the "opposite" end of Los Gatos ???? really? Question to the families down in town: do you really think they will continue to allow Mountain children to go all the way to the other end of town for school?! I don't. Van Meter will end up with the moutnain kids... this is common sense and will alleviate the "traffic" concerns. Do you have an infant and live close to Van Meter? Be afraid. EVERYONE WAKE UP! The Mountain Community is not going to be the only loser in the long run. Everyone in Los Gatos is going to pay the price for the Plannig Commision's greed and the future North Forty project. Pay attention and use common sense.... because reality says that NONE of this makes sense. A community, an elementary school, and property values, all have been sold to a developer by the City of Los Gatos and the Planning Commision. They should be investigated... ashamed of themselves at the very least.
Peggy Dallas May 03, 2012 at 10:04 PM
This is a confusing situation because of the lack of publicly accessible project data but the numbers are changing so fast it would be hard to keep up. The cost for "interim" student housing jumped 50% in the one week between the last two meetings. Here is my understanding. $4 million dollars of the the $18 million to rebuild Fisher has been spent on...$900K on geo-technical work, $1.5 million on architectural, $1 million on water and sewage maintenance at Lexington and what? Now with the 90% done architectural construction documents submitted to the Division of State Architect months ago, another $25k-$75 needs to be spent on geo-technical work to get an "yes" or "no" on the project as designed. It is likely that the state will say "no" unless another $0- $100K is spent to modify the design to mitigate the last geo-technical issue. LGUSD just needs to spend the the estimated $175K to get likely, but not guaranteed, approval to rebuild in place. (The $175K = $25K - $75K to complete geo work and then the estimated $0-$100K in proposed mitigation) Instead the board decided to spend $500K extra for the Lex. students to stay indefinitely at Fisher. The total estimated cost of "interim" student housing at Fisher is $1.6 million for an indefinite stay and $1.1 million to stay for just one year. There is no plan for the Lex. kids stuck indefinitely at Fisher. This makes so little sense that either the board is incompetent or really does have a nefarious plan in the works.
John Smith May 04, 2012 at 05:38 AM
I would say incompetent and nefarious.... and definite incompetence in their ability to lie and hide facts. ONE MAJOR QUESTION? Why was there only three of the five board mebers at the last meeting. Were they too ashamed to show up and continue the boondoggle? There are rumors that there has already been a property appraiser out to Lexington to see what the property is worth. They have no intention of ever letting the Lex. kids back on that property if they are forced out. They want to get rid of it as soon as possible to see to it that there little mountain school problem goes away quickly. The Board should be investigated and INDICTED if there is any wrong-doing. Prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. Incompetence is an understatement. They have NO PLAN whatsoever for 160+ children !!! .... for the next three years no less.
John Smith May 04, 2012 at 05:54 AM
There are many homes in the Los Gatos Mtns. that are already teetering on foreclosure due the recession. What do you think will happen to those properties if Lexington School is moved? They will go "underwater" pretty much instantly. What does this do for anyone's property value in Los Gatos as a whole? Nothing good.
John Smith May 04, 2012 at 06:42 AM
There has been ZERO transparency with the proposed North Forty Project and the Grosvernors. Many residents were shocked to find out about the development that was approved (under the radar) by the Planning Commision. The Grosvernors want to develop 40 acres at Lark Ave. and Highway 17. Much of this will be housing and will need a school to alleviate capacity issues. Hence Lexington closing.... errrr... "re-locating" That area is the worst congested enroute to Santa Cruz.... throw a shopping center, movie theater, and housing development in there.... how's it look to you now? Not so appealing? Then imagine the freeway expansion to accomodate the new development... this is looking like a 10 year nightmare unfolding for Los Gatos residents. Destroying one community at a time, they are. All in the name of the dollar.
Anonymous May 09, 2012 at 01:49 AM
The board doesn't care about the kids, the Lex community or the traffic problems that will be caused by the moving of the kids to town. They only care about getting sued.

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