Castilleja School
Castilleja School S Campus Expansion Renovation Renering 629f843ccec3d

Palo Alto, Calif., city council approves expansion of private girls school

June 7, 2022
Castilleja School will construct several new buildings and an underground parking garage.

Castilleja School, a private school in Palo Alto, Calif., for girls in grades six through 12, has received city approval to renovate its campus and build an underground garage. 

The City Council also approved the school's plan to increase its enrollment from 416 to about 540 students, reports The Palo Alto Daily Post

The renovation will replace several buildings on the campus. The new buildings would total 128,687 square feet on six acres — less than what’s there now, but more than the 81,379 square feet that’s allowed under city zoning.

The permit allowing the expansion was controversial because the property is in a low-density residential neighborhood, and people were concerned about increased traffic and noise. 

The council voted 6-1 to approve a permit with several conditions. Castilleja must enroll at least 40% of students from within five miles of campus before enrollment will be allowed to increase. Right now, 34% of the school's students come from Palo Alto and East Palo Alto, said Head of School Nanci Kauffman.

To abide by the permit, the school must follow strict rules:

  • Transportation: The number of students driving to school can’t increase, and juniors won’t be allowed to drive to campus, except in rare cases. The school also must monitor the neighborhood to make sure students aren’t getting dropped off a couple blocks away, the council said. Instead, the students must bike, ride Caltrain or take a shuttle from a satellite parking lot. The school is hiring a compliance director to make sure students follow the rules. 
  • Enrollment and school events: The city will appoint a committee of three residents to monitor Castilleja’s compliance. If the school follows the rules, then enrollment can increase by 25 students per year, up to 540, and hold more events. If the school violates its permit, then city planners can force the school to scale back enrollment and reduce the number of events. The school will be allowed to have 55 events a year to start, including five events with more than 500 people. Castilleja had asked to have 70 events.

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