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School Administrators Prep For Influx of Kids From New Facebook Employees

The Menlo Park City School District is grappling with ways to accommodate an increase in student enrollment while preserving small classroom sizes.

Parents flocked to Oak Knoll Elementary Thursday night for information about kindergarten programs in the Menlo Park City School District, signaling to school administrators that enrollment projections were on point.  

“The challenge is kindergarten,” said Ahmad Sheikholeslami, director of facility planning and construction for the Menlo Park City School District.

“It’s a little bit of science and a lot of art to project kinder grade sizes, but the three-year forecast we have is pretty solid,” Sheikholeslami said. 

Sheikholeslami presented an enrollment projection study report to the district’s board of education on December 5, 2012, that unfurled multiple data points required to assess the district’s future enrollment needs.  One of the factors included the school’s Academic Performance Indicator (API) Scores, which have exceeded state set targets by hundreds of points since 2008, according to public data. Another was the town itself. Many executives in Silicon Valley choose to live in Menlo Park, because of its village character and proximity to Stanford University. A rigorous school system is something commonly described as an attraction by parents. 

The Menlo Park City Council approved Facebook's application to build an additional campus in the east side of town on Tuesday; school board members anticipate that the new Facebook employees will want to live close to their place of employment and send their kids to schools in the district. 

District administrators expect the overall student population will grow by about 150 students in the next three years. Currently, the district teaches 356 kindergarten students, with about 10 of them in the transitional kindergarten program. Total district-wide enrollment for the 2012-13 school year is 2,799 students, according to Sheikholslami.  

On Thursday night, about 125 parents attended an informational session about the kindergarten curriculum and enrollment process, according to school administrators.

A challenge that the district will face is where to educate these students, said School Board President Terry Thygesen 

“Our ” Thygesen said.  “We don’t have room to plop down portables anymore. We’re at our max with playground and learning space,” she said.

“The only way to add students is to increase class sizes,” Thygesen said.

 

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