Edition 4 – February 2018
Dear Castilleja Families and Friends,
It has been some time since I last updated you on the progress of our Castilleja Reimagined campaign to provide more girls with access to a Castilleja education and to modernize our campus. In this month’s newsletter, you will find updates on our advocacy efforts, the Conditional Use Permit application process, and our neighborhood outreach.
Over the last several months, Castilleja has sharpened its focus to better articulate our mission and to explain why our request to gradually bring in more students and modernize our campus is important to our future. Being more deliberate about the way we are sharing our message has borne fruit. It is clear that many of you strongly believe in the school’s mission and future. It has been wonderful and gratifying to witness your outpouring of support: you have proudly displayed over 300 lawn signs outside your homes; sent more than 100 letters, emails, and postcards to the City Council; and added 300 names to our list of public supporters. No matter where you go in Palo Alto, you will find expressions of support for Castilleja. Thank you to those who have vocalized your support in one — or in some cases, all — of these ways.
For those of you who have not yet added your voice to the groundswell of support, please join us by visiting CastillejaReimagined.org and doing the following:
- Add your name to the list of public supporters
- Send an email to City Council
- Request a lawn sign
- Volunteer to speak at City Council
Please consider showing your support in all of these ways!
As for the City of Palo Alto application process, it is underway and moving at a slow but steady pace, which is typical of a project that has received a lot of public attention. Although we submitted our application nearly 20 months ago, many levels of review by the City are yet to come. In the meantime, we continue to work with the City staff responding to requests for more information and waiting for the release of the draft Environmental Impact Report (dEIR) for public review and comment, hopefully sometime this spring. The dEIR will be particularly illuminating as it will evaluate our project’s impacts and propose mitigations. This information will be useful as we work with a mediator to find resolution with a vocal minority of neighbors who oppose our efforts to increase the accessibility of a Castilleja education and upgrade our learning spaces.
At the suggestion of the City Council, we are entering facilitated discussions with neighbors through Project Sentinel, a non-profit offering conciliation and mediation services. Our objectives in participating are to develop a better understanding of neighbor concerns and to identify means of addressing their concerns. Our current proposal includes changes to the campus to move activities away from neighboring homes, a new park and bike station accessible to the public, stringent restrictions on vehicular trips and school events, and meaningful penalties should we exceed our car trip or enrollment caps. There is always more to learn, and we look forward to hearing new thoughts and ideas on how these measures can be further improved. We’ll continue to work in good faith to arrive at a resolution that works for our neighbors and provides new opportunities for women’s education.
This is a complicated and lengthy process which requires resilience, patience, and a steadiness of purpose. It’s easy to get distracted by discussions relating to construction details and permitting. But at the end of the day, our efforts all stem from our mission: to provide an excellent education to girls, equipping them with the tools they need to be confident, compassionate leaders and engaged citizens. We are dedicated to this mission and remain determined and focused in our work to empower our students to be tomorrow’s change. Thank you for standing with us in support of our mission, our vision, and our commitment to the school’s future.