School district to acquire extension for Terman Middle School

This Google Earth image shows Terman Middle School in white and the proposed land acquisition at Bowman International School in red. Photo illustration by David Raftrey.

The Palo Alto Unified School District will move forward with plans to purchase a 1.67 acre extension to the Terman Middle School campus, according to a decision reached  earlier this month.

This additional land is currently owned by Bowman International School, located adjacent to Terman.

Expanding Terman onto the additional land at 4000 Terman Ave.  would provide a cheaper and more convenient option for increasing the school district’s middle school capacity than the construction of an entirely new middle school, Supt. Kevin Skelly said at the Jan. 15 meeting. Expanding Terman from 750 to 1100 students instead of building a fourth middle school would yield savings on the annual operating budget of over $1 million.

“Land in Palo Alto is not inexpensive, but when you consider the ability to acquire a piece of property that’s next to our smallest middle school, that has a value to the district,” Skelly said. “It gives us the ability to expand our middle school capacity in ways that building a fourth middle school would be considerably more expensive and difficult to find.”

The current enrollment Palo Alto’s three middle schools is 2733 students, nearing the maximum capacity of 2950 students. The proposed addition to Terman Middle school would expand this capacity to 3200 students. The district is expected to be able to house its entire middle school population for another eight years, even without this new space for Terman Middle School, according to Skelly

The building currently housing Bowman International School does not meet current earthquake codes and would require seismic upgrades before use. Funding for this has not been included in the initial estimate, according to Skelly.

Skelly did not speak to possible concerns about a Terman Avenue, small street which divides the Bowman and Terman campuses.

“This is a very very preliminary discussion and we haven’t discussed any parts of traffic flow,” Skelly said.

The acquisition of the site is made possible by Bowman’s own intentions to move to a new, larger site and is contingent upon Bowman locating such a property.

“We have an interest in their success in this because without it I do not see this deal going forward,” Skelly said.