There've been some big changes over the summer for the Mountain View-Los Altos High School District -- some more visible than others. Students may not notice it at first, but when they inevitably pull out their iPhone, they're going to see the district's improvements in action.
One of the goals of the school district over summer was to improve the campus WiFi systems to accommodate the thousands of new devices all over campus, according to Mike Mathiesen, chief business officer for the district.
Not only are students bringing more digital devices on campus and connecting to the WiFi system every year, the school district recently purchased 800 new Chromebooks for students at Los Altos High School to use for class work. The improvements over the summer, according to Mathiesen, should handle all the new devices and more. He said the system should now be able to handle three digital devices connecting to the WiFi per person, or as many as 6,000 devices on a single campus -- provided they aren't all in one spot.
"If all 6,000 were in the library we'd have some trouble," Mathiesen said.
Beyond digital upgrades, Mathiesen said, the district re-did the fields at both schools over the summer, replacing the synthetic turf with a "higher tech" version that allows for more vibrant colors on the field in places like the end zone.
Mountain View High School also has a new concessions stand building near the field, which Mathiesen said is in a more convenient location. He said the former "snack shack" and athletic storage building has since been converted into restrooms, with double-digit stalls to better handle sports events and graduation.
The district also made improvements to the pool at Los Altos High School, re-plastering the surface, upgrading the pool pumps, and converting to thermosolar power to make the pool more energy-efficient. The upgrade was paid for, in part, by Measure A funds, which can be used by the district to make "green renovations" to the high school campuses.
The new school year also means new teachers and new classes. The district has 41 new teachers, putting the district at just over 200 teachers across the campuses. Superintendent Barry Groves said many of the new teachers are needed to keep up with enrollment growth and reduce class sizes, and a few are taking over for teachers on temporary leave.
Groves said there's a number of new courses for students to try out this year, including multivariable calculus, introduction to journalism, and an engineering program at Los Altos High School called Project Lead The Way.