Rapidly changing demographics and poor planning have plagued both agencies as builders have completed homes and apartments that have been long planned. The district has struggled to find additional sites to construct more schools because households are significantly larger than what was expected.
It’s notable that the Dublin school population is expected to grow by 5,000 students by 2022 to a total of 15,400 when the city population will be an estimated 62,500. By contrast, Pleasanton and Livermore, with populations of 71,000 and 89,000, respectively, have enrollments of 14,700 and 14,000, respectively. It shows just how many families with children are moving into the new homes in Dublin.
Naturally, the school crowding has sparked discontent in the community and both the district and the city have responded.
Earlier this month, the agencies announced that the city is providing the school district with a 12-acre site in the Dublin Crossing project on former Camp Parks land on Dublin Boulevard near the east Dublin BART station. The land originally was planned for a park.
The agreement is for an initial five-year lease that can be extended for another five years at $1/year. The district can eventually acquire the land for $111—it is valued at $36 million. The district will apply for state funds to pay for the site—if it is successful, the state money will go to the city.
There will be a joint use with a potential gym on site as well as the public using the facilities as a park. Joint use agreements are ideal uses of public property. One early move by the city of San Ramon after it incorporated was taking over maintenance on school sites, so the public could access them.
This is the second time the city has shifted a park site to the school district. In 2015, the entities signed a land lease that allowed the district to build Cottonwood Creek School, which is scheduled to open this fall in the Jordan Ranch development.
The school district also is moving ahead with negotiations to buy a larger site in the stalled Promenade development across from the Sorento neighborhood at Central Parkway and Brannigan. Developer Jim Tong had asked the City Council to rezone the land from its planned commercial and retail uses but was denied. If negotiations on a price fail (it could be $1 million per acre), then the district can take the land via eminent domain.
Speaking of the new agreement and the potential high school site in the Promenade, Mayor David Haubert said, “We support the district. We are all ears for ideas to help, but we cannot make decisions for the district.”
The acreage the district can afford at the 23-acre Promenade site is not large enough for a full comprehensive high school, but there are alternatives to share fields in the nearby Fallon Sports Park. It could hold a school of about 1,500 students. A high school of that size that will alleviate the traffic congestion trying to reach Dublin High School on Dublin Boulevard.
It’s unfair to criticize the district for missing on the changing demographics of the new community. East Dublin was planned at the same time that Contra Costa County, the city of San Ramon and the San Ramon Valley school district were working on the Dougherty Valley for what once were Gale Ranch and Gumpert Ranch (both named for former judges).
The same demographic shift has been seen in the Dougherty Valley where school sites have been added as the local schools grew overcrowded. The San Ramon Valley district has the advantage of dealing with just one developer (Shapell Homes originally, now Toll Brothers) and the developer’s incentive to continue to sell homes encouraged flexibility on more school sites.
In contrast to the San Ramon Valley, where Dougherty Valley High School was included in the plan (with a joint-use theater), Dublin school trustees decided years ago to make Dublin High the only high school in town. It’s that decision that the current district leaders are struggling to overcome.