The Daily Journal
November 7, 2016
The quest for adequate accommodations continues for Design Tech High School, as officials are seeking a temporary home for the charter school while construction of its new building is completed.
Development of a new school facility for the San Mateo Union High School District’s only charter school is underway on the Oracle Corporation campus in Redwood Shores, but work is not expected to be done by the first day of school next year.
So school officials are collecting feedback from the school community regarding how to manage the few months between the beginning of the fall semester and January 2018, when the new school is expected to be ready for students.
Enrollment at d.tech is supposed to outgrow the space for 420 students available in its the temporary facility rented from the San Mateo County Office of Education in Burlingame, said school director Ken Montgomery who has proposed a couple of stopgap alternatives.
The school could either stagger its start times at the current site on Rollins Road to accommodate the 550 students expected to enroll next September, or it could move for a few months onto the former Crestmoor High School campus in San Bruno, said Montgomery.
“Right now we are definitely just working with our parent community to find out what the best options could be,” said Montgomery.
Officials are collecting feedback though an online crowdsourcing campaign, and Montgomery said he is hopeful to identify a viable solution by the end of the year.
Both potential temporary alternatives have shortcomings, said Montgomery, as a staggered bell schedule requires time flexibility and the San Bruno campus can be hard to reach because it is isolated and far from the homes of most students.
“There are trade-offs to both, so we are trying to work with the families to find out what meets their needs the best,” he said.
Though neither proposal is ideal, Montgomery said the process is more palatable with the understanding that the temporary home is only needed for a few months before opening a new, state-of-the-art facility accommodating 550 students and 30 teachers built and paid for by Oracle Corporation.
“It is just for a few months and the long-term benefit of the school is going to be so amazing, but we still want to offer a quality experience,” he said.
The Crestmoor campus in San Bruno is currently home to Peninsula Alternative High School, which officials are considering moving to the Burlingame site once d.tech moves to Redwood Shores. Teacher housing has been eyed for construction on the former Crestmoor High School site once the shuffle of facilities is complete.
No stranger to challenges related to accommodations, Montgomery noted one option not on the table for d.tech is a move back to Mills High School. The two schools previously shared the campus in Millbrae, leading to a rift eventually solved when d.tech relocated to Burlingame.
As the school balances potential solutions to the capacity issue, Montgomery said educators are seizing the chance to use the hurdle as a learning experience for students.
“It’s a really great opportunity for us to use what we are training kids to do in design thinking to solve a problem,” he said. “It’s a really rich opportunity for us. Every challenge is an opportunity to build new relationships, so we’ll keep with that philosophy. It will work. We are going to make something work. We always do.”
In the variety of hardships potentially facing a charter school, Montgomery said he believed the temporary facility issue is surmountable.
“This is such an amazing reminder of what Oracle is doing,” he said. “We are going through this now because of Oracle’s support, but we have a long-term solution. That is something that helps sustain us.”