GHS II site clears city planning hurdle

GILROY
– The school district’s preferred site for a second high school
received a preliminary thumbs up from the Planning Commission. Now,
the district is one small step closer to purchasing the site.
By Lori Stuenkel

GILROY – The school district’s preferred site for a second high school received a preliminary thumbs up from the Planning Commission. Now, the district is one small step closer to purchasing the site.

A report by city planning staff on the 51-acre site located on the southwest corner of Day Road and Santa Teresa Boulevard was approved by the planning commission Thursday night and is being forwarded to Gilroy Unified School District.

“As far as city policies go, this site appears to be in compliance,” said Planner Melissa Durkin.

According to the staff report, the Day Road site will fit the city’s general plan by ensuring the city has adequate high school facilities; providing a property location, size and shape that are appropriate for a high school; and requiring minimal traffic through residential areas.

State law requires that school districts notify the local planning commission when considering the purchase of land to build a school. Commissioners then have 30 days to investigate the site and provide any recommendations before the school district moves forward with plans to purchase the property.

The response from the Planning Commission is right in line with what district officials were expecting, said Charlie Van Meter, the district’s director of facilities.

“Because we let everyone know and had public forums that we were looking at this site, (the Planning Commission) pretty much knew it was coming,” Van Meter said.

GUSD is in the early stages of conducting an environmental impact report – to be completed in spring – on the site.

The new high school is tentatively scheduled to open in 2008, but El Portal Leadership Academy, Gilroy’s charter high school, could give the district some extra time.

“Our timeline is a little bit flexible because it depends on enrollment, obviously,” Trustee Jim Rogers said. “(El Portal) might buy us a year if that is successful.”

At capacity, El Portal would hold about 320 students, or 13 percent of Gilroy High School’s population. However, Rogers said, the charter school “is still a couple of years from being on solid footing,” so the timeline isn’t being adjusted just yet.

“If we have to open in August of ’08, we’re right on track,” Rogers said. “If we get another year and open up in ’09, we’re probably in better shape because we can see that we proceed carefully and cautiously.”

The report will need formal approval from City Council.

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