School leaders meet with council on growth

KB Home has been building near R.O. Hardin School along Line Street.

Hollister School District trustees and city council members held a rare joint meeting this week to discuss the area’s population, which is projected to grow significantly in the next few years.
The district’s most recent demographer report makes projections seven years out, through 2022, but anticipates at least 1,000 more students by 2019. The demographer report encouraged trustees to build other campuses or adjust current school boundaries.
Hollister School District trustees Mike Baldwin and Peter Hernandez were absent from the meeting held at 5 p.m. May 16 in the city council chambers. City councilman Victor Gomez was also not in attendance. Hernandez told the Free Lance he missed the meeting due to a death in the family. He had mentioned wanting to hold a joint meeting at two prior school district board meetings, he said.
“When you say you have to build a new school is there any thought of just expanding the current school?” said Hollister Councilman Ray Friend.
Superintendent Gary McIntire sited limited parking at some sites and issues with managing schools with enrollments in excess of 900 students, but added that growing some campuses to K-8 schools could be an option. The district recently approved adding portables to the Gabilan Hills campus so that the Hollister Dual Language Academy, which is located on the same property, could expand, he said.
“I mean a 1,000 students is another school but eventually it drops off and you’ve built a lot of schools you don’t necessarily need down the road,” Friend said.
Councilman Karson Klauer sited very limited parks in district 3, which includes south Hollister and added the only option is Rancho San Justo Middle School. He asked about a possible joint use agreement with Ladd Lane School.
“We actually don’t have a city park yet,” Klauer said.
McIntire suggested the council could engage school district staff in that and the district would have to work through that with its board. From a community planning standpoint, the district would love to see some dedicated parks since school fields are in constant use and this would allow the district to get maintenance done to let the grass come back, he explained.
Trustee Pat Moore added to Klauer and Friend’s comments, explaining that adding more buildings to the green space on current campuses would lessen available recreation areas for students and the community.
“It’s kind of a catch 22,” she said. “You can’t do both.”

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