What is the scope of the facilities bond program?
Measure H1, approved November 8, 2016, authorizes $66 million in school construction bonds. This measure’s project list includes:
- Construction of a new high school building for Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics (“STEAM”);
- Renovation or replacement of existing high school and middle school facilities;
- Addition of kindergarten classrooms;
- Energy efficiency measures to reduce operational expense and environmental impact;
- Improvement of security at all school sites; and
- Furnishings and equipment for new, renovated and existing facilities.
Why are high school facilities a priority?
Piedmont High School is a priority because its buildings are the oldest in the District with the most antiquated systems, it serves all Piedmont students in their highest level of K-12 education, and supporting high school STEAM education is a paramount educational goal in the District.
Why is the construction of new high school facilities a challenge?
Building new high school facilities is challenging for several reasons. The high school campus is small, sloped on a hillside, there is little available space to expand, and existing buildings limit the options. At the same time, the District hopes to avoid the use of interim housing for students and offices during construction, because interim housing adds considerable expense (at least five million dollars) and can cause delays (there is an additional permitting and construction process to lay foundation, bring utilities including power and water to the site, install the modular classrooms and ramps, and establish fire alarms and other safety features).
Fortunately, the District can avoid the cost and delay of interim housing through careful sequencing of projects — construction of new classrooms before demolition of the old.
Why demolish and replace Alan Harvey Theater?
District architects and community members with expertise in architecture and construction developed three concept designs for new and improved high school facilities. Because of the limited space at the high school campus, there was only one option that could be achieved by using available space, without demolition of an existing building. The other options involved tearing down an existing building to take advantage — and make better use — of its real estate. One would tear down and then relocate Alan Harvey Theater (AHT), and the other would tear down and then relocate Binks Gym. Both the theater and the gym could be demolished and relocated without the need for interim housing for students.
To promote awareness and understanding about the options for locating new STEAM facilities, the District: created a website (www.measureh1.org), a short animated video (https://youtu.be/lOhWHostJYc), and two public service announcements; held three community town hall meetings (on April 1, 6 and 18, 2017); met with students; and offered an on-line feedback form. Several hundred parents, students, and members of the community have accessed the information and participated in the process provided by the District.
District architects, staff and the Facilities Steering Committee reviewed the community input and developed the plan to demolish AHT and locate the new main high school building on the AHT site. Following completion of the new building, the 10s building will be demolished and replaced with a new AHT. The estimated cost to implement this plan is $57.23 million. The Board of Education approved this plan on May 24, 2017.
What is the condition of Alan Harvey Theater? Would demolition be wasteful?
AHT is undersized for the current school population, does not adequately support the District’s performing arts programs, and does not comply with current fire/life/safety and accessibility codes. AHT requires extensive renovation, and District architects determined that the renovation cost would likely exceed the cost of replacement. The required work includes:
- Accessible Pathways. Accessible pathways are needed throughout, including to the stage, orchestra pit, sound booth, dressing rooms, restrooms, and seats at all levels.
- Number and Accessibility of Restrooms. Currently there are only two single-occupancy restrooms in the 450-seat theater and more are needed.
- Building Systems. The HVAC systems are more than 35 years old, failing, costly to maintain, and highly inefficient to operate. The transformer, currently located in the in mezzanine, overheats and creates a fire hazard.
- Dry Rot. There is extensive dry rot in the perimeter, mechanical screen, and trellis.
- Water Intrusion. The roof, gutter and downspouts are leaking and must be replaced.
- Fire and Life/Safety Systems and Seismic Safety. Any renovation will trigger State requirements to upgrade AHT’s fire and life/safety systems (including installation of a new fire alarm, fire sprinklers, and a voice evacuation system) and seismically strengthen the structure.
The Measure H1 project list does not explicitly include replacement of Alan Harvey Theater. Can Measure H1 funds be used for this purpose?
The Measure H1 project list allows for replacement of any high school facilities that are antiquated and do not adequately support the District’s educational programs, regardless of whether they are specifically named, including the 10s building and AHT. Stated differently, Measure H1 funds may be used to implement the District’s Facilities Master Plan, which includes renovation or replacement of AHT.
Did the community reject plans to replace Alan Harvey Theater?
In 2014, the District proposed a $13.5 million bond measure to renovate AHT, which was not approved by voters. The District received a range of feedback about why voters did not support the measure, and the reasons are varied.
Many voters questioned how the proposed theater improvements fit within an overall plan for District facilities, particularly plans for building new STEAM labs and modernizing antiquated classrooms. These voters did not necessarily oppose renovation or replacement of the theater, but felt there needed to be a comprehensive facilities plan before approving a theater-only bond. Based in part on this feedback, the District has since completed a comprehensive Facilities Master Plan.
Some voters believed the renovation would not go far enough to serve the educational needs of students and favored replacement rather than renovation. Similarly, some voters found the reduction of seats resulting from the proposed renovation unacceptable. Still other voters believed nothing should be done to renovate or replace the theater, despite the poor condition of the theater and the code compliance and accessibility issues.
The District considered the full range of community input in its subsequent assessment of facilities, development of a master plan, and operation of the Measure H1 bond program. In addition, prior to the Measure H1 bond election, the District conducted a survey of community priorities and found that 63% of respondents were in favor of renovating or replacing AHT.