From 2000 to 2010, the population of Gilroy grew by almost 7,500 people. Over 1,500 of those new residents are under the age of 18.
That means that Gilroy school had to make room for 1,500 new students while dealing with budget and staff cuts, inevitably increasing classroom size.
Last week we asked the candidates for Gilroy City Council and Gilroy Mayor about this issue. See their responses below.
Question: Is Gilroy's population an issue regarding housing availability and classroom size?
Peter Arellano: Gilroy has a residential development ordinance which, in effect, controls how fast our population grows. This allows our city to gradually expand its basic city services and helps Gilroy Unified School District to plan expansion without overcrowding our classrooms.
Dion Bracco: We have plenty of housing available and we work with the school district to not to impact them negatively. It should be recalled that the school district receives money for every new home built, so the more housing built, the more money for the schools.
Don Gage: There is a lot of expensive housing and not much affordable housing. The school district is in charge of classroom size, not the city.
City Council Candidates:
Paul Kloecker: Hopefully, we are experiencing an improvement in the national, state and local economy such that previously-authorized new housing construction can resume and thereby relieve any existing housing shortage. Relief should also be seen in the rental market availability and affordability. Additionally, the City is currently studying possible rezoning of areas for affordable housing.
Regarding classroom size, this is largely a problem of state funding for schools and within the purview of GUSD. However, there is a need for close collaborative planning and cooperation between the City and the school district so that housing construction and school facilities are somewhat in tandem with housing construction and concomitant population increases thus avoiding increases in classroom size.
Rebeca Armendariz: I am concerned about the impact a growing population has on our already full classrooms, and so we must have this in mind, as well as our water resources, traffic and current housing availability when considering new developments.
Terri Aulman: Gilroy is in a good position because we do have the most affordable housing available in the Bay Area, and it is a desirable community for relocation. As the economy slowly recovers, we need to make sure that we are looking forward and providing the housing at all levels to meet future needs. It is important to look at projects coming forward that will meet our future needs and help them get through the process so they can come to fruition.
I know that we have very large classroom sizes, but I am not sure if it is necessarily because we need more schools or because we have reduced teaching staff. This is an area that I would like to look at closely based on facts and help find an appropriate solution.
Cat Tucker: We need to use smart growth strategies such as in fill development to focus our growth areas and use the Residential Development Ordinance process to help manage our schools and city services.
Are you afraid of increasing population affecting classroom size? Do you trust the city ordinances and school district to manage classroom size? Do you know who you're voting for? Tell us in the comments!