While some districts in the Bay Area have declining enrollment, the Belmont-Redwood Shores School District has seen more families trying to enroll their kids. Over the past 8 years, the number of students attending those schools has gone up by 50 percent and the only way to deal with that was to expand.
The long, dragged-out summer ended Wednesday for thousands of students in Belmont and Redwood Shores. Most parents were thrilled to finally drop their kids off at school. "I have three boys. I had to keep the older two entertained for another two weeks, so that was a challenge," Parent Miriam Antiporda said.
A massive $63 million construction project was what kept the students away for so long. Six of the seven schools within the Belmont-Redwood Shores District were gutted, some rebuilt and/or upgraded. The seventh one was built only three years ago and even that one added six classrooms last year.
In the past few years, the district has added about 200 students per year. "Eight years ago, we were at 2,400 and now, we are at 3,800," Superintendent Michael Milliken said. That's ironic because in the late 80s, the school district sold off several school sites because of low enrollment.
But today, the district has grown so much because more families have moved to the area. "The majority of that growth is families with children taking the place of residents who do not have children or have fewer children," Milliken said.
"Belmont really does maintain very good real estate prices. Our turnover is quite quick, so it attracts a lot of young families and we have a great school district, so people want to move to this area," parent Lisa Bernstein told ABC7 News.
The school district asked the community to pass two bond measures worth $54 million. The state contributed another $9 million in matching funds. In all, 28 classrooms were added, 12 at Ralston Middle School.
"Residents of Belmont and Redwood Shores appreciate the fact that to run a good school, you need money, and we had to do that," parent Nitin Gaglani said.
Starting so late also means students will have to stay in school an extra three weeks in June. "I'll get over it," one student told ABC7 News.
Next year, the students will have a shorter summer because classes end June 25 and they return in August. Also new at Belmont and Redwood Shores this year -- the superintendent.