Enrollment growth leads to new Peninsula schools 

Two San Mateo County school districts are preparing to open new schools to keep pace with a rising number of elementary students.

Both the Burlingame and San Mateo-Foster City school districts are moving forward with opening new elementary schools to alleviate crowded classrooms.

Burlingame’s K-5 population throughout its five elementary schools increased nearly 26 percent from 2001 to 2009, from 1,466 to 1,846, according to California Department of Education data.

To address the city’s growing enrollment, Burlingame’s Board of Trustees purchased the former Hoover school building last October for $4.85 million, Interim Superintendant Jud Kempson said. Hoover was closed in 1979 when student numbers dropped.

“As a district, we have experienced growth and we are projecting that growth to continue,” Kempson said.

The San Mateo-Foster City district, with 16 schools, has seen similar growth, as its K-5 enrollment increased from 6,855 to 7,461 in eight years. The district decided to add a fourth elementary school in Foster City last month, although it has not pinpointed a specific location or produced a detailed plan.

“Our enrollment has definitely increased over the last several years,” San Mateo-Foster City Assistant Superintendant Joan Rosas said, adding that Foster City enrollment in particular “has been growing quite rapidly.”

At Thursday’s board meeting, the district reviewed a School Facilities Improvement District with the intention of putting a measure taxing only Foster City residents on the Nov. 8 ballot to fund land and construction. The deadline to put such a measure on the ballot is Aug. 12.

Burlingame district officials hope to get Hoover functioning as a neighborhood K-5 elementary school by August 2014, Kempson said. However, the district has to develop educational specifications for the school before architects can submit a design to the state. That process is currently under way, Kempson said.

Before the October purchase, however, district officials attempted to address the enrollment hike through other means. Buildings at Lincoln and McKinley Elementary schools were constructed recently, but the situation had to be further addressed, Kempson said.

The growth in the Burlingame and San Mateo-Foster City districts does not appear to be part of a countywide trend.

“The best information I have right now is that countywide, enrollments have been relatively stable over the last five years,” said Peter Burchyns, the county’s special adviser to trustees and the superintendent.

According to the state Department of Education, the county’s K-12 enrollment has hovered between 89,000 and 91,000 students during the past 10 years.

Increase in students

Total county enrollment:
2009-10: 91,371
2005-06: 88,350
2000-01: 91,205

Districts’ (K-5) figures:

Burlingame Elementary
2009-10: 1,846
2008-09: 1,710
2007-08: 1,597
2006-07: 1,557
2005-06: 1,744
2004-05: 1,587
2003-04: 1,500
2002-03: 1,463
2001-02: 1,466
2000-01: 1,522

San Mateo-Foster City Elementary
2009-10: 7,461
2008-09: 7,177
2007-08: 6,821
2006-07: 6,689
2005-06: 6,641
2004-05: 6,617
2003-04: 6,631
2002-03: 6,669
2001-02: 6,885
2000-01: 7,058

Source: California Department of Education

aterrazas@sfexaminer.com

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