The City of Dublin has seen explosive growth in the last two decades, presenting a challenge to its schools in terms of keeping pace with a growing student population.
Dublin Unified School District (DUSD) Interim Superintendent Daniel Moirao said he likes to view challenges as opportunities.
“We are working diligently to keep pace with the growth,” Moirao said. “What we are wanting to do is try to stay ahead of it, so we don’t come into a situation where we don’t have enough seats for everyone. We are working with the city, and we are working with the developers in order to accommodate our students.”
Moirao reported the district now works to accommodate a student population that’s grown to 13,000 – a 92% increase since 2010. In addition to building new schools, the district has added new buildings to existing schools, brought in portable classrooms and put in a parking lot at Dublin High School. Its biggest project is putting a in a second – still unnamed – high school. DUSD hopes to break ground on the new campus in September to welcome students in the fall of 2022.
“With the second high school, we will be able to house all our high school students,” Moirao said. “There are currently 3,300 students at Dublin High School, and the new school will take 1,300 students its first year. That will ease the population at Dublin High School, and then as we ease into the next phases, it will continue to grow and take up to 2,500 students.”
The new and long-awaited high school campus can partially be credited to the City of Dublin, which gifted the DUSD two pieces of property to build two other schools. Without the city’s help, the district would not have had the funds to both purchase three lots and build three schools.
Vice Mayor Arun Goel stated he was supportive of giving the district land for schools because of the significant amount of impact and lack of financial support at the state level. He noted he did have reservations.
“I was not happy about converting retail to residential,” Goel said of the second site, located in central Dublin. “But it was below the threshold, so underneath that, I allowed it.”
To further support city and district collaboration, there is a liaison committee made up of members of the DUSD Board and the city council that meets regularly.
“As it relates to growth, we keep the school district well informed of any projects that are potentially coming forward in the near future,” Haubert said.
Currently, Moirao noted DUSD is meeting all of its contractual obligations in terms of class sizes. The district hired 70 new teachers this year, some to replace teachers who had left, others to accommodate the increased student population.
“If everyone were to return to school today, we would have a place for them to sit,” Moirao said.
Many of Dublin’s residents have asked the city council to reject new home development proposals from builders to keep the community from sprawling and the schools from overcrowding. Haubert cautioned the city has little control over developers’ ability to build where they have zoning rights and the school district has none.
“The city council has no legal ability to restrict growth on the basis of the number of children generated,” Haubert explained. “You really need to look deeply at the state of California laws around approval for housing . . . The best we can do is to make sure the school district is well aware of everything that is coming so they are well prepared to work with the developer to mitigate the impact on the students.”
While it is true a developer can develop appropriately zoned land, the city and district can both negotiate terms, as Goel points out.
“A school district can, during the environmental phase (of a project), identify mitigation measures that need to be addressed as a result of the project,” Goel explained. “From a state perspective, they have tiers relative to the compensation a developer would have to provide for school infrastructure. And it’s by mandate how much they would have to pay based on the current level of impacts.”
Measures H and J – passed in 2016 and 2020 respectively – along with developer’s fees, will fund the new high school. The total cost of the new site is an estimated at $258.2 million. There are currently no new bonds or measures planned. Moirao said the Dublin community has been incredibly supportive of its school district.
“I really need to commend the voters of this community, because they have stepped up every time a new measure has come on the ballot and supported the school system,” he said. “I have been in other communities where that has not been true, and Dublin has been exceptional that way.”
DUSD offices are located at 7471 Larkdale Avenue in Dublin. For more information, call 925-828-2551.