My familyâ€™s been in Foster City for over 40 years and Iâ€™ve been in the Bay Area since 1990â€¦moving here from Colorado. I donâ€™t think thereâ€™s any subject that Iâ€™ve heard discussed more often and with more passion in Foster City than the subject of a High School in this community. I remember discussions about it when I visited in 1978 when I was a sophomore in college and there were high hopes for itâ€™s apparently inevitable construction in the area that will now be home to Parkview Plaza (the new name given to the 15 acre site, in case you hadnâ€™t heard). I know that for a long, long time many very passionate people have tried to bring a High School to this town and it finally appears that, after all is said and done, itâ€™s never going to happen.
Iâ€™m not sure if itâ€™s a distant memory or itâ€™s family folklore but, as I recall, the topic of a High School was voted on here on more than one occasion over the years and didnâ€™t pass. If memory serves there were those that didnâ€™t want additional taxes to be levied as well as the fact that creation of a High School meant separation from the San Mateo school districtâ€¦and our brothers and sisters in San Mateo were not too crazy about losing that revenue. They fought it successfully. Ultimately in 1999 the City Council amended the land use designation of the 27 acre site from high school to public/semi-public development of the Civic Center Master Plan. Then in 2002 the Peninsula Jewish Community Center was granted a lease for 12 acres, the other 15 acres was leased to a private Episcopal High School venture. They couldnâ€™t raise the necessary funds to build and thus the land became available again. In 2003 the plan changed into a Charter High School concept that was approved by the City Council as well as the San Mateo School Board. Unfortunately funding for this concept was never completely ironed out and it ultimately became clear that the City could produce significantly more revenue going forward by using the 15 acre site for something other than a High School. It was far more important as a revenue source for the future as a commercial and residential development than it would be as a school so 11 acres were carved out for Parkview Plaza and the remaining 4 acres were then to be used as a Charter High School.
Even more trouble brewed last fall when it became apparent that only a relatively small number of Foster City kids would use the school at allâ€¦.possibly as low as 200 out of a total number of 1200 High School aged kids in town while the rest would be at the discretion of the San Mateo school board. It also didnâ€™t help that the charter petition had changed the name of the school to the Arts and Technology High School of San Mateo. That didnâ€™t go over real well at a City Council meeting last fall.
So last week it seemed that a white towel finally got thrown into the ring when a newsletter was sent to supporters asking for more leaders to step up or the group might have to disband. Itâ€™s become very, very hard to generate excitement and financial support for this 4 acre, scaled down school. Donâ€™t expect to see a photo of a Foster City High Schoolâ€¦like the one above, Iâ€™m betting itâ€™ll never happen. Iâ€™m sure thereâ€™s plenty of passions on all sides of this issue, so donâ€™t hesitate to comment and express your point of view. Hereâ€™s a link to a San Mateo Times story on this issue: