What do Piedmont Unified’s teachers say about Facilities Master Planning?
- “Experts Center. Students teaching students new technology skills. For example, Adam Seville is teaching two students in my social studies class to use Wevideo (think Chromebook “IMovie”). They will produce a “Ken Burns style” presentation that includes selected video clips about the Terra Cotta warriors of the Qin Dynasty. In an “Experts Center” they could teach other students these new skills, and those students could continue passing on these skills throughout the class.”
- “Conference Center. Students could meet in small discussion groups for literature circles/book clubs or with partners to collaborate on writing. Currently students are writing scripts to demonstrate three ancient Chinese philosophies in a contemporary family setting, and this is very difficult in our crowded setting of table groups.”
- “Project Center. Students could work on designing and building models and projects that demonstrate their knowledge. If we had this space students could build a 3D model of the lost wax and piece methods of bronze casting. Currently they are limited to 2D presentations due to lack of storage and design space.”
- “Independent Work Center. We need a quiet corner for independent work and reading. There is substantial current research on the need to provide alternatives to group work for students. Our school psychologist has shared this research to encourage us to balance group work and independent classwork.”
What if the community does not support bond measures to improve facilities?
- The District would need to spend significant resources to operate inefficient and ineffective mechanical, electrical, plumbing and heating systems, pouring good money into failing equipment that will ultimately have to be replaced. If deferred, the cost of replacement will likely escalate.
- Spending money on failing equipment and systems, such as inefficient boilers and deteriorating sewer lines, would mean diverting money from the District’s general fund that would otherwise be available for educational programs.
- Middle and high school students would remain in overcrowded, undersized classrooms that fail to provide an educationally appropriate, comfortable or secure learning environment. Poor sound insulation, ventilation, and climate control would continue to undermine learning.
- The District would remain constrained in the range of courses and opportunities it offers students, particularly in STEAM education and career technical pathways.
- The District would remain unable to offer extendedday kindergarten due to space constraints.
- Elementary school students would remain in overheated and uncomfortable classrooms.
- Piedmont Unified would fail to keep pace with surrounding public and private high schools that are investing millions of dollars in STEAM facilities and modernization.
The City of Piedmont has its own Master Plan. How is Piedmont Unified School District’s Facilities Master Plan related to the City’s Plan?
A few years ago the District proposed a bond measure to renovate Alan Harvey Theater and voters did not approve the measure. Will improvements to the Theater be included in the Facilities Master Plan?
When the Facilities Master Plan is implemented, would students have to be relocated during construction? If so, would the relocation site be outside of Piedmont?
After the Facilities Master Plan is adopted, will there be continuing community involvement in implementation of the Plan?
Yes. To be most effective, facilities projects require ongoing community involvement and oversight. Piedmont Unified has long relied on a steering committee to oversee both the Seismic Safety Bond Program (SSBP) and the Modernization Program (MP), and both programs were completed on time and on budget. Specifically, the SSBP Steering Committee and the MP Steering Committee met regularly with District staff, architects, and construction managers to oversee planning and management of individual projects and program financing. Members of these committees contributed significant professional expertise and helped guide these programs to successful completion.
Is the District eligible to receive State funding for these projects?
How will these improvements be funded?
What will it cost to implement the Facilities Master Plan?
How will the District prioritize the work?
How will the Facilities Master Plan be used?
What needs are identified in the Facilities Master Plan?
Piedmont Middle and High Schools4
- To accommodate current and projected enrollment, the middle school needs at least three additional classrooms and the high school needs at least two additional classrooms and one additional science lab.
- To support STEAM education, labs must be configured with sufficient preparation, collaboration, project, presentation, and storage space.
- To provide an educationally appropriate, comfortable and secure learning environment, sound insulation, ventilation, climate control, and additional restrooms are needed.
- To support a range of teaching strategies including quiet study, research, smallgroup collaboration, project work and exploration, presentations, and formal instruction classrooms must be modernized and furnished for maximum versatility.
- Antiquated mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems must be replaced.
- To sustain, improve and expand course offerings, specialized facilities are needed:
- The high school cafeteria, Piper Cafe, is used as the culinary arts classroom and for conferences, presentations, professional development programs for educators, and parent education programs. Nonetheless, use of the Cafe kitchen for career technical education programs in culinary arts means that the kitchen is not available for its original cafeteria purposes during class time. For this reason, the Cafe kitchen can support one section only of the culinary arts class. Also, the cafeteria is not wellsuited for conferences and presentations due to poor acoustics. Additional teaching, conference, and presentation space is needed.
- Alan Harvey Theater is used daily as a classroom, as well as for assemblies, rehearsals, performances, and community events. The Theater lobby is also used on a regular basis for small group meetings and rehearsals. The Theater is undersized for the current school population, does not adequately support the performing arts programs and needs for performance space, does not support Community needs for presentation and performance space, and does not comply with current fire/life/safety and accessibility codes. Additional seating capacity and additional teaching, rehearsal, and ancillary backstage spaces are needed.
- Course offerings in sports medicine and related fields require dedicated space and equipment that support instruction in physiology, athletic training, nutrition, preventative care, and rehabilitation techniques. This space differs from typical classrooms, in part because training tables and equipment storage is needed.
- The turf on Witter Field has reached the end of its useful life and must be replaced. In addition, underground drainage is inadequate and must be improved to protect the new turf from stretching and tearing due to the pooling of water from Bushy Dell Creek under the surface. These improvements are critical to preserve and enhance student athletics.
- To support the social and emotional health of students, additional, private meeting space is needed at the middle school for Wellness Center programs.
- To the extent feasible, parking and traffic issues should be mitigated. The District has been working with the City of Piedmont to reduce traffic congestion along Magnolia Avenue during dropoff and pickup times with new parking zones, permits, and signage. Offstreet, paved parking is desirable for faculty, staff and visitors although the constrained area around the middle and high school campuses makes this difficult. The District and the City are continuing to explore possible solutions for Magnolia Avenue.
- Extended-day kindergarten is needed to better serve students. The District currently offers halfday kindergarten due to space constraints. Nonetheless, a growing body of research suggests that extendedday kindergarten produces greater learning gains than halfday programs. Furthermore, elementary school curriculum is developed based on the assumption that kindergarten is a full day, so offering halfdayonly kindergarten necessarily means that students are not covering all recommended curriculum. For these reasons, additional kindergarten classrooms are needed.
- Climate control measures are needed to prevent classrooms from overheating and provide a comfortable learning environment. Ambient classroom temperatures exceed 80 degrees at least 30 school days per year.6
- All three elementary schools need additional shade for the outdoor recreational areas.
All School Sites
- Additional support spaces and meeting rooms are needed to meet current teaching needs.
- To the extent feasible, each campus should have a secure perimeter and administrative oversight over the access points to enhance safety and security. At the same time, facilities such as fields and playgrounds should be unlocked and open for community use and enjoyment during nonschool hours.
How was the Facilities Master Plan developed?
- Assessment of whether Facilities Support Educational Goals
During the fall of 2015, nearly 30 District educators and administrators met four times to discuss the educational programs and goals, and the educational appropriateness of the existing facilities.1The group discussed: current and future educational needs of students; classroom functionality and capacity; whether the school sites provide an environment that is appropriate, comfortable and conducive to learning, including classroom size, acoustics, air quality, ventilation, and climate control; student safety and security; and current and future facilities use by the broader Piedmont community. The group consulted with the Piedmont Police Department, Piedmont Recreation Department, and school security professionals.
Assessment of Physical Condition of Facilities
During the same time period, a team of architects and engineers assessed the condition of each school facility including: educational appropriateness; mechanical and plumbing systems; safety and security; energy efficiency; and fire/life/safety and accessibility code compliance. This team consulted with the Piedmont Police Department, Recreation Department, Department of Public Works, and school security professionals concerning site security and community use. The team also developed a “solar master plan” with the Bay Area Air Quality Management District to generate enough solar power to offset all of Piedmont Unified’s energy use. This assessment was informed by California Department of Education (CDE) standards and guidelines concerning classroom size and features.2
The project team also consulted with the Collaborative for High Performance Schools (CHPS), a nonprofit organization that specializes in school design that is versatile, energyefficient, and provides a healthy educational environment. For example, CHPS has developed models for: maximizing flexibility of classrooms so they can be easily reconfigured for projectbased learning and other purposes; integrating outdoor space for educational purposes; and incorporating natural light and energy efficient materials. The team also reviewed school specifications promulgated by Makers groups.
- Community Meetings at each School Site
Piedmont Unified hosted a series of facilities tours and public meetings at each school site to gather community input concerning the adequacy of school facilities. Educators, students, families, and the broader Piedmont community were encouraged to participate.3
- Board of Education Meetings
In addition to receiving progress reports at its regular meetings, the Board of Education held a special meeting on December 14, 2015 to review all input received at the school site meetings. As with the site meetings, the December 14 meeting was publicized in the school bulletins, school newspaper, and local newspapers, and all members of the public were encouraged to participate.Following this meeting, the District created a draft Facilities Master Plan that combined (1) the assessment of the educational appropriateness of facilities with (2) the assessment of the physical condition of facilities and (3) community input received. The project team also developed two illustrations for purposes of discussion and soliciting further community input demonstrating different approaches to implementing the Plan. The draft Plan was presented at three public meetings (to date), on January 12, January 19, and February 10.The Board of Education will hold additional meetings on the draft Plan in the coming months, and will likely finalize and adopt the Plan in April 2016.
1. This team included: Randall Booker, Superintendent; Song ChinBendib, Chief Business Officer; Pete Palmer, Director of Maintenance, Operations & Facilities; Dr. Cheryl Wozniak, Director of Curriculum & Instruction; Stephanie Griffin, Director of Instructional Technology; Michael Brady, Director of Alternative & Adult Education; Julie Valdez, Director of Special Education; Brent Daniels, Principal of PHS; Ken Taylor, Elementary Admin Rep; Sati Shah, Principal of MHS; Ryan Fletcher, Principal of PMS; Courtney Goen, Virginia Leskowksi, Marna Chamberlain, PHS Teacher Reps; Ken Brown, MHS Teacher Rep; Amy Savage, Carolyn White, Logan Medina, PMS Teacher Reps; Ras Medura, PUSD Custodian; Mike Wong, PMS Classified Rep; Lydia Adams, Kelly Wallis, Havens Teacher Reps; Lianne Morrison, Kathleen Schneider, Wildwood Teacher Reps, Anne Valva, Raul Jorcino, Beach Teacher Reps.
2. For example, CDE recommends at least 960 square feet of classroom space for a class of 2530 students, and at least 1350 square feet for a kindergarten class. For a science classroom, CDE recommends at least 1400 square feet but prefers at least 1600 square feet. The recommended ventilation for classrooms is eight “outside air changes” per hour. Without adequate air changes, air becomes stagnant and carbon dioxide accumulates. At the high school and middle school, there are classrooms with zero air exchanges per hour. In some of these classrooms, the only ventilation is to open a window, but cold temperatures preclude this for part of the year. The recommended acoustics (or “sound transmission”) rating for classrooms is at least 50, but at the middle school and parts of the high school this rating is zero. This means that measurable background noise, which is supposed to be at or below 25 decibels, is typically above 35 decibels.
3. The school site meetings were held as follows: PHS (10/26/15); PMS (11/2/15); MHS (11/5/15); Havens (11/12/15); Wildwood (11/19/15); Beach (11/30/15); and PHS/MHS (12/1/15).
Why fix something that isn’t broken?
- Investment in facilities at the middle and high schools is now overdue and unavoidable. These schools have antiquated mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems that have reached the end of their useful life. These systems are inefficient and expensive to operate, and require either overhaul or replacement.
- The middle and high schools do not have a sufficient number of classrooms to support current and projected enrollment. The middle school needs at least three additional classrooms, and the high school needs at least two additional classrooms and one additional science lab.
- The District has identified a range of vital educational needs from the need to provide extended-day kindergarten to the need for modern science labs and maker spaces that can be addressed only through facilities improvements.
- Serious deficiencies that distract from and undermine the learning environment include poor sound insulation, poor ventilation, poor climate control, and insufficient restrooms. At the middle and high schools, noise transfers among rooms, making it difficult for students and teachers to hear each other. At all schools, climate control measures and improved ventilation are needed to prevent classrooms from overheating in warmer months.
- Modernization of antiquated facilities is needed to keep pace with surrounding public and private schools, which are investing millions of dollars in STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics) facilities. These schools include: Miramonte High School (Orinda); Campolindo High School (Moraga); Skyline High School (Oakland); Monte Vista High School (Danville); San Mateo Union High School (San Mateo); Bishop O’Dowd (Oakland); Head Royce (Oakland); Bentley (Lafayette); College Preparatory School (Oakland); Redwood Day School (Oakland); and De La Salle High School (Concord). The project costs are not available for all of these, although Cahill Construction reported that De La Salle’s new STEAM building cost $18.5 million to construct, Head Royce invested $33 million in capital improvements, and Oakland Unified School District recently invested $55 million in new science and classroom facilities.