Foster City official: School not a good fit

While Foster City has craved its own high school for much of its existence, some City Council members are concerned that the latest attempt — a charter school — may not be the right fit.

On Sept. 17, the Foster City High School Foundation will present their business plan to the council and local residents. However, Councilmember Pam Frisella said the proposed school, a public school that would serve students from Foster City and beyond, without athletic programs or facilities, doesn’t mesh with the council’s plans for a community center on the site.

“If we were fighting for a full-service high school, where the community could go to football games, to make a nice community focus, it would be different,” she said.

The proposed school — on four of 15 acres owned by the city at Foster City’s heart — would be a tuition-free public institution like traditional high schools, operated using a business model by Envision Schools.

It would not have athletic facilities, but would focus instead on academics and technology.

Foundation President Phyllis Moore said the group is finishing its business plan for the city — which must outline financing for the design and construction of the $15 million school — and preparing to petition the San Mateo Union High School District for a charter to operate the school.

“The City Council has built a senior center and a teen center, and we’d love to see them have a real commitment for an educational center for Foster City, and the school will be a tenant in that building,” Moore said.

The foundation had once entertained ideas of opening in temporary facilities in 2008. Difficulties in developing a business plan, finding funding and working with the high school district have set that back, potentially as far back as 2010.

Much of the timeline depends on a proposed November 2008 state bond for school constructions, possibly including charter schools.

Frisella said the hopes for future bond money are not enough to convince her that Envision and the foundation have a viable project for the city.

“There’s never been a solid lead on any of this to me,” Frisella said. “Every plan that we’ve looked at has not been solid.”

Envision representatives did not return calls for comment from The Examiner.

The business plan will be discussed publicly at the Sept. 17 Foster City Council meeting.

jgoldman@examiner.com


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