This article was originally published in the spring 2013 Harker Quarterly.
January 29 will go down in Harker history as the day school administrators were handed an official set of keys to the long coveted new campus property on Union Avenue in San Jose.
Sharing the historic accomplishment with the Harker community, Chris Nikoloff, head of school, recalled a previous groundbreaking moment when the Palo Alto Military Academy and Miss Harker’s School for Girls merged together and moved to San Jose in 1972.
Today, school officials have innovative, strategic plans to turn the Union campus into the future permanent home of the lower school. The site will also be used to launch a preschool starting this September.
Harker first made breaking news when it became top bidder on the available third campus property located at 4525 Union Ave. Following a due diligence period on the Union campus (where Harker reviewed areas such as permit, traffic, environmental and title use), the administration suc- cessfully closed on the Union property in January.
Ever since opening the upper school in 1998, Harker has planned to own three campuses. Currently Harker owns the upper school Saratoga and lower school Bucknall campuses, but holds a lease on the middle school Blackford campus until 2025. However, the Blackford lease has long been viewed as a temporary stopgap measure.
The school’s long-term plan is to locate the middle school on the Bucknall campus and move the lower school to the Union campus. Other plans in the works include: building a gym and theater complex on the Saratoga campus to replace the gym and theater on the Blackford campus; creating a permanent solution for field use; making improvements on the Union campus in preparation for its K-5 use; and relocating some operations at Blackford.
While the preschool would initially operate on the Union property, it would later be transitioned to leased or purchased land when the time comes to move the K-5 programs to Union.
The preschool will serve ages three through (young) five-year-olds with the capacity to serve up to 120 students. Previously, Harker ran a very successful junior kindergarten, but closed that program (as well as the school’s boarding program) to make space for the upper school.
Kelly Espinosa, Harker’s director of summer and preschool programs, said that due to state regulations, the admission process cannot begin until licensing is complete, likely in early July. Currently, Harker is asking interested families to complete an inquiry form to be notified of the preschool’s progress.
“We are all so excited about the new preschool,” said Espinosa. “It is a beautiful facility, and combined with our caring and qualified staff and our rich and balanced learning approach, it promises to be a one-of-a-kind experience for young children!”