The Primary School
The Primary School has operated out of trailers since opening in 2016, but plans to build a permanent campus have been approved.

East Palo Alto school founded by wife of Facebook founder will get permanent campus

June 21, 2019
City Council approves plans for The Primary School, a private school founded by Priscilla Chan, a pediatrician who is married to Mark Zuckerberg

The East Palo Alto City Council has approved plans that will enable a private school created by the wife of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg to build a permanent campus.

The San Jose Mercury News reports that The Primary School opened in 2016 and operates out of trailers across the street from the Ravenswood Family Health Center. 

Priscilla Chan, a pediatrician who is married to Zuckerberg, co-founded the school after realizing that she was “not able to provide the support that children needed to stay healthy and thrive in the classroom,” according to the school's website.

The school serves about 250 students and offers free subsidized tuition. It partners with the nearby health center and other community organizations to provide on-site health, dental and mental health services along with its educational curriculum.

The construction plans for a permanent campus call for a main two-story building, a gymnasium and several recreation areas on a 3.5-acre site.

Once the new campus is completed, the school will double its capacity to accommodate up to 511 students from kindergarten to eighth grade, as well as 150 children in an early childhood program.

The Primary School is one of more than a half a dozen private and public charter schools that have opened up in East Palo Alto in recent years to meet the community’s demand for options outside the public school district.

As a consequence, the Ravenswood School District that serves East Palo Alto has seen its enrollment drop by 900 students over the last three years — from 3,278 in 2015 to 2,386 in 2018. It to lose at least another 600 students over the next three years, according to a city staff report.

East Palo Alto Mayor Lisa Gauthier and other council members urged administrators from The Primary School to work with the Ravenswood School District and offer additional aid where they could.

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