The Alta Vista School moved from 3,500 square feet of start-up space in 2012 to a one-acre Portola campus at 450 Somerset Street with a three-story school building of 23,000 square feet, a two-car garage, and a paved play yard which doubles as parking for the adjacent church.
With a current enrolment of around 160 students, the school has drafted plans to raze the garage along Wayland and construct a second three-story building of 21,000 square feet on the site with classrooms, administrative space, and a landscaped green roof with open space for the students. The paved play yard would be reconfigured with play/sports areas, a garden and new landscaping. A parking pad for six cars would be provided at the rear of the site.
With the proposed addition, the Alta Vista School would be able to accommodate an enrolment of up to 420 students.

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Comments from “Plugged-In” Readers

  1. Posted by invented

    Any investment in, and growth of private schools in SF is welcomed. With the additional enrollment, I hope they have a generous subsidy for families in need. More please.

  2. Posted by noe mom

    Another death knell for SF Public Schools

  3. Posted by Bayness

    @Noemom. Seriously? What on earth does this have to do with public schools?

  4. Posted by soccermom

    The growth of private schools in the city takes talented, on-the-ball (read high SES) families out of the public school system.
    While ‘death knell’ is probably an exaggeration, the choice by well-to-do families to opt out of the public system perpetuates the gap between the top and the bottom in the city. Why put your kid in a public school that you:
    -Whose identity and location you can’t predict with certainty because of the lottery system.
    -Will have a difficult time impacting given the inertia of the school district and teacher’s union. (Just go raise money for the PTA, okay?)
    Opting out is the easy choice. So it makes sense for a school like Alta Vista to work to more than double enrollment. At the margin, it means fewer motivated families in the SF public system.
    Many SF public schools are still great by objective state-wide standards, and parents should be happy to have their kids attend. At the same time, the energy and attention of the parents of every well-resourced kid not in the public system is lost by the schools those high SES children would have otherwise attended.

  5. Posted by NJ

    soccermom: Alta Vista School is doing things that no S.F. public school is doing, including the Clarendons of the City. SFUSD has itself to blame for encouraging so many fence-sitters to go private (or leave town) instead of public.
    I’m glad to hear AVS is doing well and expanding. They have an interesting approach, and we strongly considered sending our first child there.

  6. Posted by Walkable City

    Could you expand a bit on what AVS is doing that is unique and what you liked? We will be coming up on the public/private question in a few years and would welcome any info.

  7. Posted by soccermom

    @NJ – I would not doubt that Alta Vista school has a unique curriculum, or that one should be happy to take advantage of it. My point is that the low-high social bifurcation happens now as much as ever in schools. I think we agree.
    @Walkable – Start here:

  8. Posted by pumpkin patch

    Soccermom…I am not sure AVS takes more families out of the public schools. I think it keeps more families in San Francisco that would otherwise run to the burbs when the lottery has not gone their way.

  9. Posted by NoeValleyJim

    Does anyone know what the racial breakdown of the student population is? I can’t find it on their website.

  10. Posted by BobTheBuilder

    @soccermom: Only a true SF bleeding liberal would blame families who aren’t in public schools for those schools’ current problems which are predominantly self-inflicted (by their employees) or inflicted upon them by the (largely childless) electorate. It’s also interesting how many of the City’s socialist self-proclaimed leaders one can observe touring the open days at some of these expensive private schools (“treat your kids as I say you should, not as I treat my own …”).
    @NoeValleyJim: Wow, it took as many as 9 comments on a thread on SF eduction for someone to play the race card. That must be a record.

  11. Posted by soccermom

    Hi Bob – I am sorry you misunderstand my comments.
    I tried to explain why choosing a private school in the city is a totally rational choice for parents of socio-economic means. That this choice has knock-on-effects (unintended consequences!) for public schools is my point. It’s an observation, not an assignation of blame.
    I probably agree with you more than you think, though I’m curious how you would rate the ‘current problems’ of SF Public Schools. If you consider the state-wide Academic Performance Index (API) rankings of many schools, compared to schools in Marin, and high performers in the East Bay and Peninsula, many SF public schools rank just as high ( The perpetuation of the notion that “all SF public schools are bad” is damaging to the city and false in the context of the rankings of similar schools in the outer counties.
    Public elementaries in my neighborhood -the Richmond- are very good based on rankings: Lafayette, Alamo, Argonne. We could move to Corte Madera or Mill Valley for the weather or a big backyard but not for public schools that are an order of magnitude superior to the city.

  12. Posted by SFNativeWolf

    My mother, aunt and I went to this school when it was known as St. Elizabeth’s Catholic school. I don’t know how anything about the siphoning off of potential public school students enters into the subject. A former private school has become a different private school and now wants to expand; end of story.

  13. Posted by NoeValleyJim

    @Bob I just asked a simple question, not sure why you are so riled up about it. The SFUSD schools all publish this info, I was kind of hoping that AV also had it.
    Is it considered confidential info or something for private schools?
    How is asking this question “playing the race card” exactly? Can you explain to me what you mean by that?

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