H1 Facilities Bond Program Questions and Answers

What is the “Facilities Master Plan”?

During 2015-16, Piedmont Unified assessed its facilities to determine whether they support changing educational programs and goals, and develop a plan to ensure that facilities enhance educational programs now and in the future. This Facilities Master Plan is intended to further the fundamental goal of educational excellence.

Why is Facilities Master Planning needed?

Educational programs and objectives must keep pace with the changing needs of the world outside the classroom. Readiness for higher education and future careers requires different types of knowledge, different educational experiences, and a different set of skills than in the past. To serve the needs of students, it is essential to offer students a broad range of educational opportunities. For example, students must have the opportunity to: learn through project-based exploration, collaboration, and presentation; investigate the connections among the sciences, and develop and test hypotheses; work individually, in small groups, and in large groups; complete service projects; and take full advantage of modern educational technologies.

The purpose of the Facilities Master Plan is to address current and future educational needs of students and ensure that facilities provide both the functionality and capacity to support educational excellence.

Haven’t the schools been modernized?

Yes and no. Piedmont Unified recently completed seismic safety and technology modernization programs. The elementary schools were renovated or rebuilt to better withstand earthquakes, and all facilities have new technology infrastructure. Nonetheless, the middle and high schools have not been modernized, and many of their building systems have reached the end of their useful life and must be replaced. Also, educational needs have changed since these schools were constructed, and both additional and different kinds of facilities are needed.

How have educational needs changed?

Since the middle and high school buildings were constructed, course offerings have become more varied and some courses require specialized classrooms and labs – particularly in the fields of science, technology and engineering. Course work now incorporates collaboration in small groups and presentations, but undersized classrooms and heavy, inflexible furnishings make it difficult to reconfigure classrooms to support these activities. Lab work requires safe and suitable space for group projects and project storage, and inadequate labs, in fact, constrain teaching and learning opportunities. Additional specialized facilities are needed to offer or expand courses in film, web design, theater arts (including set and lighting design), graphic arts, culinary arts, and sports medicine, among others.

Why fix something that isn’t broken?

Piedmont Unified provides an excellent education, so some have asked whether facilities upgrades are really needed. There are significant reasons for investing in facilities

  • 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).

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 facilities1. The 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 non-profit organization that specializes in school design that is versatile, energy-efficient, and provides a healthy educational environment. For example, CHPS has developed models for: maximizing flexibility of classrooms so they can be easily reconfigured for project-based learning and other purposes; integrating outdoor space for educational purposes; and incorporating natural light and 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.

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.3 Educators, students, families, and the broader Piedmont community were encouraged to participate.

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 the following Board of Education meetings: January 12 and 19, February 10, March 9 and 23, May 11 and 25, and June 22. The Plan was adopted at the June 22, 2016 meeting.


1 This team included: Randall Booker, Superintendent; Song Chin-Bendib, 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 25-30 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).

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, small-group 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 well-suited 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 drop-off and pick-up times with new parking zones, permits, and signage. Off-street, 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.

Piedmont Elementary Schools5

  • Extended-day kindergarten is needed to better serve students. The District currently offers half-day kindergarten due to space constraints. Nonetheless, a growing body of research suggests that extended-day kindergarten produces greater learning gains than half-day programs. Furthermore, elementary school curriculum is developed based on the assumption that kindergarten is a full day, so offering half-day-only 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
  • 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 non-school hours.


4 Piedmont Unified has two high schools and one middle school, clustered together at 740-800 Magnolia Avenue. Piedmont High School has 39 classrooms, roughly 110,000 square feet of building space, and 871 students enrolled for 2015-16. PHS consists of several separate facilities that were constructed in the 1920s, 1930s, 1960s, and 1970s, and includes classroom buildings, the Student Services building, Binks Gym, Alan Harvey Theater, and the Witter Field complex. Millennium High School is an alternative high school that shares space with PHS and the District’s administrative offices. MHS has 4 classrooms (1 that is shared with PHS) and 80 students. Piedmont Middle School has 33 classrooms, roughly 85,000 square feet of building space, and 683 students enrolled for 2015-16. PMS buildings were constructed in the 1970s and
1990s and include the Science Building and Morrison and Redford Gyms.

5 Piedmont Unified School District has three elementary schools. Beach Elementary (100 Lake Avenue) has 18 classrooms, roughly 35,000 square feet of building space, and 334 students enrolled for 2015-16. Beach was modernized and seismically strengthened in 2011 and 2012. Havens Elementary (323 Highland Avenue) has 23 classrooms, roughly 51,000 square feet of building space, and 498 students enrolled for 2015-16. Havens was built in 2009. Wildwood Elementary (301 Wildwood Avenue) has 15 classrooms, roughly 20,000 square feet of building space, and 311 students enrolled for 2015-16. Wildwood was modernized and seismically strengthened in 2010.

6 All elementary classrooms were supposed to get air conditioning and climate control features when they were renovated as part of the seismic safety program. However, in order to ensure completion of the seismic work, the installation of air conditioning units was deferred for budgetary reasons.

How will the Facilities Master Plan be used?

The Facilities Master Plan is a long-range planning document that will guide short-term and long-term facilities improvements. Piedmont Unified cannot afford to address everything in the Plan at one time, and that is not the intent. Instead, the District will have to prioritize the work and propose a series of bond measures over time, seeking voter approval to make these improvements in phases.

What will it cost to implement the Facilities Master Plan?

District staff worked with architects, engineers, and three general contractors, each with
extensive experience in public school construction, to develop detailed cost estimates for
implementing the Plan. If all work identified in the Facilities Master Plan were to be addressed in a single (multi-year) phase, the estimated cost is $137 million. This includes hard costs (cost of construction), soft costs (architectural and engineering fees, state design review fees, inspection and permit fees, utilities fees, estimated price escalation over the next few years, and furnishings, fixtures, and equipment), and contingency funds. Nonetheless, Piedmont Unified cannot afford to address everything in a single phase. Instead, the Plan will be implemented in phases and actual cost will depend on the scope and sequence of each phase, which have yet to be determined.

How will the District prioritize the work?

Piedmont Unified’s Board of Education will prioritize improvements based on educational needs and goals, considering input from the school community, broader Piedmont community, and City of Piedmont. The Board held a series of public meetings and conducted a public opinion poll concerning the community’s priorities in the Spring of 2016, prior to proposing Measure H1 to the voters on November 8, 2016. In addition, the Facilities Steering Committee (FSC), which plays a significant role in bringing community viewpoints and professional expertise into the management and oversight of the District’s capital projects, made recommendations concerning bond program priorities in May 2016.

In summary, the FSC concluded:

  • Recognizing that it is not possible to address all of the needs identified in the Facilities Master Plan within the current “bonding capacity,” Piedmont High School campus should be the primary focus because the PHS buildings are the oldest in the District with the most severe physical needs, because PHS serves all Piedmont students in their highest level of education in the District, and because supporting high school STEAM education (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Mathematics) is a paramount educational goal.
  • Investment in new classrooms at the elementary schools to support extended-day
    kindergarten is also a high priority.
  • The Board of Education should not seek to “do the minimum” by repairing or replacing failing systems only. The Committee determined that it would not be a good value to invest in a building — such as Piedmont Middle School — if the building is nearing the end of its useful life and the improvements will not extend its useful life.

(See the Facilities Steering Committee recommendation here.)

The Committee did not recommend a specific design concept. Instead, more public input is needed to determine the scope and sequence of projects, assess the educational benefits and trade-offs of the various options, identify additional options, and determine the best solutions. Additional public meetings for this purpose are planned for March through May, 2017.

How will the District fund these improvements?

In California, school districts typically finance capital improvements by issuing bonds. The money is repaid over a period of years with property tax revenue. Property tax revenue is determined by the assessed value of real property (not market value), and the total cost to taxpayers depends on the interest rate and the repayment period.

To issue bonds, approval by 55% of local voters is required (Measure H1 was approved by 74% of the Piedmont voters). In addition, aggregate debt issued by the district may not exceed 2.5% of assessed value of the district’s taxable property. Also, bonds may be issued only if the estimated tax rate levied to repay the bonds does not exceed $60 per year per $100,000 of assessed value of the taxable property.7

Piedmont Unified’s bond financing consultant, KNN Public Finance, reported that the District’s “bonding capacity” is now roughly $66 million, and this number will increase over the next few years as previously-issued school bonds are retired. (To see KNN’s presentation to the Board of Education on January 13, 2016, click here: https://goo.gl/FHWzgI)

Consistent with this advice, the District proposed the $66 million Measure H1.


7 California Education Code section 15270 imposes these limits on the sale of school construction bonds.

Is the District eligible to receive State funding for these projects?

The District is likely eligible for state matching funds to help pay for modernization of the middle and high school facilities. Eligibility is based on the age of buildings, student population, and past receipt of state modernization funds. The District estimates that it is eligible to receive between $4.8 million and $6.47 million in state funds, provided that Piedmont Unified offers a 40% match.

The actual amount of the state modernization grant would depend, in part, on the extent of accessibility and fire life/safety code compliance work that is required by California’s Division of State Architect (DSA) in the final project scope. In addition to State modernization funds, Piedmont Unified is eligible to receive state grants for water and energy conservation projects.

The District will receive a $650,000 DROPS (Drought Response Outreach Program for Schools) grant for water conservation enhancements on the high school campus, and $420,000 over five years for energy efficiency and conservation improvements across the District.


Will there be continuing community involvement in implementation of the Facilities Master Plan?

Yes. To be most effective, facilities projects require ongoing community involvement and
oversight. Piedmont Unified has long relied on a facilities 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.

As noted above, during the Spring of 2016, the Steering Committee studied the Facilities Master Plan and helped prioritize the work in anticipation of Measure H1. The Steering Committee will also oversee implementation.

The community members currently serving on the Steering Committee are: Sally Aldridge; Angel Fierro; John Gibbs; Grier Graff; Brad Hebert; Robert Hendrickson; John Lambert; Lane Lin; Bernard Pech; Rick Raushenbush; Clark Thiel; and John Welch. District staff who serve on the Committee include: Superintendent Randall Booker; Assistant Superintendent Song Chin-Bendib; Director of Facilities Pete Palmer; and Board of Education Members Andrea Swenson and Doug Ireland.

When the Facilities Master Plan is implemented, will students be relocated during construction? If so, would the relocation site be outside of Piedmont?

Whether temporary relocation of students will be needed will depend on the scope and
sequence of campus improvements, and these have yet to be determined. The work identified at the elementary campuses could be completed over summers, when no students are on campus, so there would be no relocation issue.

The District hopes to avoid relocation of middle and high school students to a temporary school site for several reasons. Relocation adds considerable expense to construction projects and can be disruptive for students and staff. Also, as a practical matter, there are few, if any, appropriate relocation options within or close to Piedmont. The District hopes to avoid relocation through careful sequencing of the implementation plan. For example, the Facilities Master Plan calls for additional middle and high school classrooms and labs to ease overcrowding and meet program needs. If new classrooms and labs are constructed first, the new facilities could then be used as “temporary housing” while older buildings are modernized.

If phased properly, students could be cycled through the new facilities throughout the renovation, so all students would remain on the Magnolia campus.

A few years ago the District proposed a bond measure to renovate Alan Harvey Theater and voters did not approve the measure. Are improvements to the Theater included in the Facilities Master Plan?

Yes. Alan Harvey Theater is undersized for the current school population, does not adequately support Piedmont Unified’s performing and theater arts programs, and does not comply with current fire/life/safety and accessibility codes, so the Facilities Master Plan includes these improvements.

The District received a range of feedback about why voters did not support the Alan Harvey Theater measure. Many voters questioned how the proposed theater improvements fit within an overall plan for facilities, particularly plans for STEAM labs and for modernizing antiquated classrooms at the middle and high schools. Based in part on this feedback, Piedmont Unified has now completed its comprehensive Facilities Master Plan.

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?

The City of Piedmont and the Piedmont Unified School District are distinct legal entities, and the regulatory oversight for their capital improvements and funding are separate. For example, all proposed public school construction in California must be reviewed and approved by the Division of State Architect (DSA), which has the authority to require that school projects include accessibility and life safety improvements to bring school facilities into compliance with current building codes. City projects are not subject to this DSA review.

Although the City and the School District capital programs are subject to different rules,
procedures, and oversight, there is a commitment to confer and collaborate to the greatest extent possible. Specifically: there are regular liaison meetings between the City Council and School Board; Pete Palmer, Piedmont Unified’s Director of Facilities, participated in the City’s planning group concerning the aquatic center, and contributed to the City’s pedestrian and traffic safety plans; then-Chief of Police Rikki Goede and Recreation Director Sara Lillevand have consulted on the schools’ Facilities Master Plan; Fire Marshall Dave Swan worked with Piedmont Unified on a comprehensive fire/life/safety assessment and participates in active fire drills at the school sites; Director of Public Works Chester Nakahara consults on parking and pedestrian safety as well as storm drains, utilities, and other improvements that are coordinated between the City and School District.

What can bond funds pay for?

Bond funds may be used only for the reconstruction, rehabilitation, or replacement of school facilities as authorized by the voters, and to furnish and equip school facilities. Specifically, bond funds can be used to pay for the following:

  • Professional fees for program management, architectural services, structural
    engineering, environmental consulting, construction management, testing and
    inspection, inspector of record, and Division of the State Architect services;
  • detailed schematic drawings for each project;
  • actual construction costs of repairing, upgrading, and/or rebuilding the identified buildings;
  • accessibility work necessary based on the Division of the State Architect requirements;
  • interim student housing costs if applicable; and
  • contingencies and allowances for cost increases for labor, materials, and other
    unknowns that may be identified during the course of the multi-year construction

Bond funds may not be used to pay for teacher and administrator salaries and other school operating expenses.

When will the bonds be issued?

The District will issue bonds as needed. The first bond sale is likely to be in April 2017.

When will the bonds be fully repaid?

Based in part on the projected growth in assessed real property values in Piedmont, the District expects the bonds to be fully paid off around the year 2045.

What oversight is in place to ensure that the bond funds are used properly?

The Program Manager will provide quarterly financial reports to the District, including budget information and actual costs incurred to date for the overall construction program and each of the major projects. On an annual basis, independent auditors will conduct a review and examination of the bond program and its financial reports.

In addition, as provided in Education Code Section 15278, a Citizens’ Oversight Committee will review and report to the public concerning the expenditure of bond program funds. Meetings of the COC are open to the public and all are welcome to attend. The COC is comprised of individuals from local businesses, senior citizen organizations, organizations involved with schools, a tax payers’ organization, legal, technical, and financial advisors, as well as involved parents of children residing in the Piedmont Unified School District. The COC members are:

  • Grier Graff , a community member who has served on the Board of Education and a
    broad range of City of Piedmont and PUSD commissions and committees, including the Seismic Safety Bond Program Citizens Oversight Committee.
  • Julie Caskey , a parent and attorney who has served on elementary and middle school parent boards.
  • Adam Christensen , a parent and technology executive with experience in technology investment.
  • Kim Dao , a parent with brand and team management experience.
  • Andrew Hempeck , a parent and member of the Parcel Tax Subcommittee, with
    experience in capital markets
  • Kyung-Hee Howard , a community member with experience in capital markets and bond sales.
  • Jonathan Levine , a parent and attorney who has served on the Piedmont City Council and a broad range of City of Piedmont commissions and committees.
  • Melissa Wilk , a parent and auditor for Alameda County who previously served as an administrative finance manager for Alameda County.

What is the scope of the Measure H1 facilities bond program?

Measure H1 (approved November 8, 2016) authorizes $66 million in school construction bonds.  This measure includes the following project list:

  • Construction of a new Piedmont High School building, focused on Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics (“STEAM”), with size, scope and location to be determined following additional public input [emphasis added];
  • Renovation, refurbishment, or replacement of existing Piedmont High School, Piedmont Middle School, and Millennium High School buildings, including classrooms, infrastructure and landscaping;
  • Addition of classrooms to elementary schools sufficient to meet higher educational standards for kindergarten;
  • Energy efficiency measures to reduce long term operational expense and environmental impact;
  • Addition or expansion of security measures, safe playground and outdoor structures, and “green” areas at existing schools;
  • Furnish and equip new, renovated and existing buildings, including modern technology and infrastructure.

Why are high school facilities a priority?

Piedmont High School is a priority in the Measure H1 Facilities Bond Program 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.  Additional classrooms at each elementary school for extended-day kindergarten are also a priority.   

Why are classrooms for extended-day kindergarten a priority?

Piedmont Unified has three elementary schools that offer half-day only kindergarten due to space constraints.  A growing body of research suggests that extended-day kindergarten produces greater learning gains than half-day programs.  Also, elementary school curriculum is developed based on the assumption that kindergarten is a full day, so offering half-day-only kindergarten necessarily means that students are not covering all recommended curriculum.  For these reasons, additional kindergarten classrooms are a priority.  

Will the needs of Piedmont Middle School be addressed?

Piedmont Middle Schools’ buildings were constructed in the 1970s and 1990s and include the Library and Classroom Building, Science Building, and Morrison and Redford Gyms.  Although structurally sound, the facilities are not ideal.  As documented in the Facilities Master Plan, PMS classrooms are undersized and at least three additional classrooms are needed to support the school population.  Bathrooms, doorways, and paths of travel through the school do not meet accessibility standards.  Until recently, poor ventilation, climate control and sound-proofing, when combined with classroom overcrowding, undermined the learning environment.  

During the summer of 2016, the District made non-structural improvements to PMS, including the replacement of non-functional “movable” walls with permanent classroom walls.  These changes significantly improved ventilation, climate control, sound insulation, and the overall learning environment.

The remaining issues at PMS are structural, concerning accessibility and the need for additional and larger classrooms and bathrooms.  To address these issues, the District would need to do extensive renovation of the library and classroom building or construct of a new school.  Renovation would be extremely expensive because of PMS’ design and concrete construction, and topography of the PMS site.  The District expects to demolish and replace PMS is a later phase of the facilities bond program.  

Although structural improvements to PMS are unlikely to be part of the first, $66 million phase of the facilities program, PMS may still gain some needed classrooms.  Depending on the scope of improvements made to PHS, classrooms in the 760 Magnolia Avenue building (which currently houses District Administrative Offices and classrooms for both PHS and Millennium High School) may become available for PMS.

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).  The cost and delay associated with interim housing may be avoided through careful sequencing of the projects — construction of new classrooms before demolition of the old.  

How were concept designs for new high school facilities developed?

Following the passage of Measure H1 in November 2016, District architects and community members with expertise in architecture and construction helped develop three concept designs for new and improved high school facilities.  All three options would create new STEAM facilities with specialized labs for Science, Technology and Engineering, and provide additional, needed classrooms for Piedmont High School and Millennium High School, within the District’s budget and without the need for interim housing.   

Because of the limited space at the Piedmont 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, 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 facilities bond program and 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.  

The District held three community town hall meetings (on April 1, 6 and 18, 2017) to engage the community in a conversation about the three concept designs — about what individuals liked and didn’t like about each concept, and how they viewed the trade-offs associated with each.  These meetings were publicized through press releases, notices in the Piedmont Portal and school bulletins, and public service announcements on KCOM.  Roughly 130 parents, teachers, students, and members of the Piedmont community participated.  


Gina Bartlett of the Consensus Building Institute (http://www.cbuilding.org) facilitated the three town hall meetings, and the majority of time was dedicated to community discussion, comment, and questions.  The District held a similar meeting with Piedmont High School ASB students.  Also, the District created an online feedback form for those unable to attend one of the three town hall meetings.   
District architects, staff and the Facilities Steering Committee reviewed the community input, revised the concept designs based on that input, and ultimately reached consensus on a plan to demolish Alan Harvey Theater and locate the new main high school building on the theater site.  Following completion of the new building, the 10s building would be demolished and replaced with a new Alan Harvey Theater.  The estimated cost to implement this plan is $57.23 million.

How many high school classrooms do we need?

The Facilities Master Plan indicates that to meet educational needs, that District needs at least 45 high school classrooms.  The District currently has 37 high school classrooms, including general classrooms and labs, and including classrooms used by Millennium High School.  (This count does not include shared spaces with Piedmont Middle School, including the Instrumental Music and Acappella rooms in Morrison Gym.)  Also, the Plan states that, to support a range of teaching strategies including quiet study, research, small-group collaboration, project work and exploration, presentations, and formal instruction, additional meeting, collaboration, and “break out” spaces are needed.  

The Plan reflects the key finding that, since the high school buildings were constructed, course offerings have become more varied.  Some courses require specialized classrooms and labs, particularly in the fields of science, technology and engineering.  Course work now incorporates collaboration in small groups and presentations.  Lab work requires safe and suitable space for group projects and project storage.  Additional specialized facilities are needed to offer or expand courses in computer science, film and media arts, web design, graphic arts,  theater arts, culinary arts, and sports medicine, among others.  Also, although Piedmont Middle School offers a film class and a Makers program with an appropriate Makers lab, there are no facilities at the high school for students to continue in these areas beyond middle school.  

Under the Plan, the District needs to add at least eight high school classrooms to support current and projected enrollment, meet new curricular mandates (primarily the Next General Science Standards), and meet demand for more varied courses.  Specifically, the District needs to add at least two general classrooms, one science lab, and one engineering lab at Piedmont High School, one classroom at Millennium High School.  

The Facilities Master Plan also states that Piedmont Middle School needs at least three additional classrooms. Following construction of the new main building, the District expects that classrooms in the 40s building could be refurbished and used by Piedmont Middle School to meet its need for additional and larger classrooms, at least until a new middle school is constructed.   

Is it possible to renovate rather than replace Alan Harvey Theater?

District architects and consultants have determined that the scope of required renovation would be so extensive that the cost of renovation would likely exceed the cost of replacement.  The required work includes:

  • Accessible Pathways.  The theater must have an access path of travel throughout, including accessible pathways to the stage, orchestra pit, sound booth, dressing rooms, restrooms, and seats at the front, middle, and back.  There must also be accessible pathways to the basement level that houses the Adult Education office.   
  • Number and Accessibility of Restrooms.  Currently there are only two single-occupancy restrooms in the 450-seat theater.  Additional restrooms are needed for a theater of this size.  Also, restrooms in the Adult Education Office are not accessible and must be enlarged.   
  • 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 theater perimeter, mechanical screen, and cantilevered trellis.  
  • Water Intrusion.  The roof, gutter and downspouts are leaking and must be replaced.   
  • Fire and Life/Safety Systems.  DSA will require the District to upgrade the fire and life/safety systems in the theater, including installation of a new fire alarm, fire sprinklers, and a voice evacuation system.  The addition of fire sprinklers in turn will likely require an increase in the EBMUD feed (street lateral) and water meter.
  • Seismic Strengthening.  DSA will likely require the District to seismically strengthen the theater.  The scope of this work would be determined by DSA’s structural engineers.  

Didn’t the District just invest $500,000 in improvements to Alan Harvey Theater? If the theater is demolished, will that investment be lost?

In 2015 the District invested $500,000 in privately-raised funds to improve Alan Harvey Theater.  These funds were used to convert multi-stall bathrooms into two single-occupancy bathrooms, replace the theater’s seats, lighting, and sound systems, and resurface the stage.  These improvements did not address the significant accessibility and fire and life/safety code requirements.  These improvements (except the new bathrooms) were carefully planned so that the lighting, sound system and stage could be reused in a new theater, so this investment would not be wasted.  

Why is the District working to avoid the use of interim housing?

Interim housing (portable classrooms) is needed when classrooms are demolished before new classrooms are completed, and it can add significant costs to a project and cause delays and logistical complications.  

For example, if the 10s building were demolished before replacement classrooms and offices are constructed, the District would need interim housing for eight classrooms, two offices, and restrooms for 1 ½  school years, at a cost of $2.35 million.  This would include rental of the mobile modular classrooms as well as:  architectural, engineering and permitting fees to prepare the site (the current site of Alan Harvey Theater); construction of a foundation and small retaining wall; installation of utilities including power, water, and sewer at each site; transportation and placement of the modular classrooms; site work and construction of ramps; and installation of fire alarms, intercom, and other safety systems.  This $2.35 million figure is not a rough estimate — it was developed and verified by the Director of Facilities, District architects, and mobile modular vendors.    

In addition to the cost of the interim housing, there would likely be a delay of at least twelve months due to the time required to obtain permits and engineer and prepare the temporary site.  Cost escalation for a one-year delay would add $2.83 million to the project cost.  

In other words, in this example, the use of interim housing for 1 ½  years would add $5.18 million to the cost of the project.  Interim housing for other buildings would be even more costly.  Interim housing for the 20s building would require portable science labs, which are larger and more costly that general classroom portables.  Interim housing for the 40s building would require portables for 12 classrooms (including a science lab, two art rooms, and two computer labs) and the District’s administrative offices.  Fortunately, the District can avoid interim housing through the careful sequencing of projects.  

Why is it important to avoid delay?

In the November 2016 election, more than 160 California school districts passed bond measures.  This proliferation of school construction projects will impact Piedmont Unified’s ability to move forward in important ways.  Director of facilities Pete Palmer recently attended the 2017 conference organized by the California Coalition for Adequate School Housing (CASH).  CASH brings together the head and regional directors of DSA, school construction managers, and contractors, lawyers, and other vendors who work on public school construction in California.  Participation in this conference gave Mr. Palmer the opportunity to confirm the time and cost projections applicable to District construction projects.   

Increase in “Bin Time” for DSA Review.  The estimated duration for DSA review of the District’s high school project is six to nine months.   DSA reports that this review will likely take longer as the number of school construction projects under review increases.  This is because DSA is not staffed to handle the expected increase, and the staffing shortage will worsen as 10% of DSA staff are expected to retire in the next two years.  DSA is also reporting difficulty attracting qualified staff to review these kinds of projects.  

Decrease in the Pool of Qualified Builders.  There is a finite number of qualified builders who have experience with DSA and public school construction in California.  Also, there are practical limits on the number of projects each of these builders can undertake at one time.  For these reasons, as other school districts secure DSA approval for their projects and enter into contracts with builders, the pool of qualified builders will shrink, competition among bidders will decrease, and construction costs will likely increase.  

The Race to “Get in Line” for State Matching Funds.  Piedmont Unified is eligible to receive an estimated four to six million dollars in state matching funds, and may apply for these funds only after submitting construction drawings to DSA for review.  Time is of the essence for two reasons.  First, these matching funds are paid on a first-come, first-served basis, so it is important to “get in line.”  Second, these matching funds are paid from available State bond funds.  In other words, even after an application is complete, some school districts have to wait years to receive their matching funds, because payment depends on both the sale of California school construction bonds and the number of applications already “in line.”  Given the large number of school construction projects that will be eligible to receive matching funds, it is generally believed that even a six–month delay in submitting an application could cause many years of delay in receiving the funds.  

Construction Costs are Escalating Faster Than Expected.  During the planning for Measure H1, District staff, architects and contractors estimated that construction costs would escalate at a rate of 5.13% per year, or 10.25% over two years.  This two-year escalation number is important because the time between initial design and budget development  and the start of construction.  Nonetheless, the consensus at the CASH conference was that cost escalation will soon reach 10-12% per year, or 20-24% over two years.  Delaying the high school project could result in even greater cost escalation.  

Delay Would Necessitate Further Investment in Failing Facilities.  By delaying the high school project by even one year, the District would be forced to invest more money in building systems that are at end of their life, costly to operate and maintain, and that will likely be demolished in the bond program.  For example, delay of even one year would likely require the District to patch leaky roofs, mitigate leaks to prevent the growth of mold and other water intrusion problems, and maintain failing mechanical systems.   This continued investment in failing systems is both wasteful and avoidable.  

How does the District estimate the cost of construction?

Prevailing Construction Costs.  For purposes of developing concept designs for new high school facilities, the District started with an estimate of cost per square foot for new construction.  This is for “hard construction costs” only — the cost of actual construction, which does not include architectural, engineering, inspection or permitting fees, site work, or contingency funds.  

Based on data from recently completed public school construction in the Bay Area, and accounting for the sloping site topography, the District determined that the per-square-foot hard construction cost is currently $530.  This figure was verified by architects, school builders, and consultants who specialize in public school construction in the Bay Area, using data from more than 30 recently completed school construction projects in the area, all of which involve new construction rather than renovation.   

Once the $530 per square foot figure was verified, the District added:

  • 5% for site work ($26/sqft).  Site work includes installation of underground utilities.   
  • 5-1/8% per year for two years for cost escalation, or 10.25% ($57/sqft).  This allowance is needed because project costs typically increase between conception and completion.   

The subtotal of hard construction costs ($530 + $26 + $57) is $613 per square foot.  

Construction Contingency Funds.  Consistent with industry standards and practices, the District added a 10% construction contingency ($61/sqft), to cover unforeseen hard construction costs that typically arise during the construction phase of a project.  The subtotal of hard construction costs and contingency funds ($613 + $61) is $674 per square foot.   

Soft Costs.  Also consistent with industry standards and practices, the District added 13% for pre-construction “soft costs” ($87/sqft), which include architect fees and other professional services needed to complete the design phase and prepare for the start of construction.   These include:

  • Structural engineering
  • Civil engineering
  • Mechanical engineering  
  • Electrical Engineering
  • Plumbing/Fire sprinkler calculations and design
  • Fire alarm calculations and design
  • Telephone/data
  • HAZMAT survey, hygienist, abatement
  • Survey, topographical map
  • Geotechnical reports, lab work
  • Construction management
  • Energy/sustainability consultant
  • Solar PV panel procurement consultant
  • Intrusion alarm
  • Commissioning agent
  • Cost estimating

The District also added 10% for construction-phase “soft costs” ($66/sqft):

  • 8% for California Division of State Architect (DSA) fees (8% of $674 = $53/sqft),
  • 1.5% for special inspections and soils inspections (1.5% of $674 = $10/sqft),
  • 0.5% for DSA’s on-site, full-time Inspector of Record (0.5% of $674 =  $3/sqft), and

The subtotal of hard costs, construction contingency funds, and soft costs ($674 + $87 + $66) is $827 per square foot.  

Program Contingency Funds.  Consistent with practices followed during the Seismic Safety Bond Program (SSBP), the District added a 10% “program contingency” fund (10% of $674 = $67/sqft) to cover unforeseen costs relating to design, engineering, construction management, and other professional services.  

The total estimated cost per square foot, including hard and soft costs, and construction and program contingency funds is $894 ($827 + $67).  

This methodology and amount has been verified by Cumming, the consulting firm that provides independent peer review, cost estimating, and budget analysis for the District’s facilities bond program.

The District will continually revise bond program budgets to reflect actual costs and updated projections.

Why have both a construction contingency and a program contingency?

The District creates reserve funds for both hard construction costs (“construction contingency”) and soft costs (“program contingency”).  Both reserves are intended to cover unforeseen costs that typically arise during the construction phase of a project.  Although related, these contingency funds are not duplicative.  

For example, during the District’s Seismic Safety Bond Program (SSBP), excavators at the Havens site discovered an old building foundation and underground storage tanks.  As a result of these underground structures, work came to a halt.  Geotechnical consultants and civil engineers were brought in investigate and plan for remediation.  New architectural drawings were needed, as well as supplemental regulatory approvals from Alameda County (for remediation of hazardous materials) and the Division of State Architect (DSA).  All of these soft costs were covered by program contingency.  Once the remediation plans were approved, the cost to remove the underground structures and stabilize the site were covered by the construction contingency.   

Contingency funds are an essential for all construction projects.  Program contingencies are particularly important for public school construction for the simple reason that there is extensive regulatory oversight by DSA.  Unforeseen conditions that are common during construction almost always require formalized design and engineering solutions and DSA approval.  Private school construction, in contrast, is not subject to DSA oversight.  

Why are the District’s projected costs higher than those for private school construction?

In California and elsewhere, public school construction is typically more expensive than comparable construction by private schools.  There are several reasons for this discrepancy.   

In California, public school construction is subject to regulatory review, approval and oversight by the Division of State Architect (DSA).  DSA views schools as key locations for emergency shelter and operations for communities in case of earthquakes and other disasters.  For this reason, public schools are subject to the highest standards for design, engineering, construction, and materials.  Throughout the construction phase, DSA requires oversight and inspections, including but not limited to a full-time on-site DSA inspector.  In contrast, private schools are subject only to local building requirements.   

In addition to DSA’s specifications, public schools are subject to other rules and requirements that increase project costs.  For example, public schools are legally required to pay prevailing wages for construction, but private schools are not.   

A few members of the community specifically asked the District to comment on recent construction of the Nueva School, a private high school built on the former Bay Meadows race track in San Mateo, California.  The school was completed in 2014 on 2.75 acres of open land, for a reported $418 per square foot.  

In addition to the strict standards for design and construction imposed only on public schools, there are a variety of other important differences between the Nueva project and the proposed STEAM building on Magnolia Avenue:

  • The District is planning to build a steel frame (rather than concrete) structure, so there are significant differences in the construction methods and materials that affect project cost.  
  • Construction sequencing and work flow in Piedmont will be limited because the Magnolia Campus will remain an active school site for two high schools and a middle school.   In contrast, the Nueva site was vacant land throughout its construction.  When demolishing and building on an occupied campus, development and maintenance of protected pathways and barricades are critical for student and staff safety.  Nonetheless, these safety measures limit the builder’s work flow and efficiency.  Similarly, work schedules will have to account for campus activities such as testing and special events that should not be disrupted by construction.  
  • The Magnolia Campus has limited space and is served by a single, one-way street.  Limited access to and topography of the site make the staging of materials and equipment a challenge.  The Nueva site, in contrast, was surrounded by open, flat, vacant land.  This, too, impacts work schedules, work flow, and efficiency.
  • The Nueva project did not require interim housing of 800 students and offices.  The cost of the interim housing alone that would be required for Piedmont to build a building comparable in size to the Nueva building would add at least $10 million to the cost of the project.  

Cumming, the District’s consultant that reviews cost estimates and budgets, reviewed the Nueva project budgets and concluded the Nueva costs have no bearing on the proposed new construction in Piedmont.  Cumming calculated that, if the Nueva project were built today, on the Magnolia Campus, with the constraints of an occupied school campus, sloped topography, with limited space and access, the cost would be $635 per square foot, without factoring in the added costs of demolition of existing buildings, interim housing (at least $10 million), steel-frame construction, and compliance with DSA standards.   

Would it be economical to tear down all of the high school buildings and build one, large, new building?

No.   The cost to demolish and replace the 10s, 20s, and 30s buildings, Alan Harvey Theater, Binks Gym far exceeds the $66 million authorized for this first phase of the facilities bond program.  These buildings currently total 87,617 square feet.  At $894 per square foot, rebuilding 87,617 square feet would cost $78.33 million.  In addition to these construction costs, there would be costs for demolition, interim housing for 800 high school students (requiring a minimum of 26 classroom portables, four restroom portables, and portables for administrative offices for two years), and cost escalation.   This would far exceed the program budget, without allocating any money for extended day kindergarten and other priorities.  

Also, it is important to note that the District recently invested over $10 million to seismically strengthen and modernize the 30s building.  It would be wasteful to demolish this building which has a useful life of another 30 years.   

How and when will the District decide about other projects (other than the new STEAM facility and theater at the high school, and new classrooms for extended-day kindergarten at the elementary schools) to include in this $66 bond program?

The voters authorized the District to spend up to $66 million to address the most critical educational needs identified in the Facilities Master Plan.  The District estimates that the new STEAM facility, new theater, and related costs will total $57.23 million, and classrooms for extended-day kindergarten will total $1.4 million.  This would leave roughly $7 million to address  additional needs.  

Additional needs that may be addressed, at least in part, are listed below.  This list is not prioritized.  Unless otherwise noted, cost estimates are preliminary, as the precise scope of each project is still being developed.  In several cases, the scope and cost will depend on engineering and other studies that have not yet been completed.  

What can be accomplished and the timing and sequencing of projects will be determined  as more precise cost information becomes available.

Renovation of Witter Field
Cost: $4-5 M
The turf and track on Witter Field have reached the end of their useful life and must be replaced.  Underground drainage is inadequate and must be improved to protect the new turf from stretching and tearing due to the pooling of subsurface water. These improvements are critical to preserve and enhance student athletics.  Other needs include a new energy-efficient lighting system.
Renovation of PHS Quad/Repurposing the Amphitheater Site


There was strong community input regarding the the need to improve the quad, repurpose the amphitheater site, and create spaces for students to gather on campus.  Further structural investigation and engineering is needed to identify solutions for the amphitheater, which is built over the Binks weight room.  
Renovation of Binks Gym
Cost:  $5-6 M  
Binks Gym has water intrusion under the floors, mechanical problems, and many of its building systems have reached the end of their useful life.  Replacement of the roof, boiler, HVAC, leaking windows, rotten trellis, gutters and downspouts are needed.  Installation of a fire sprinkler, hot water system, and exhaust and ventilation system is required.  Renovation of the bathrooms and installation of new lockers are also needed.  
Modernization of 30s Building The 30s building houses 10 general classrooms.  Modernization (including replacement of mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems, plus sound insulation, ventilation, and climate control) is needed to provide a comfortable learning environment.  The scope and cost are to be determined based on the feasibility of doing this work incrementally as deferred maintenance.  
Climate Control for Elementary Classrooms Climate control is needed to improve the learning environment in the elementary schools.  Solutions may include new ventilation and climate control equipment, planting shade trees, and construction of a shade trellis.   
Reconfiguration of PMS Classrooms


PMS’ three-story “Library Wing” has 12 undersized classrooms.  If the 40s building is renovated to create additional PMS classrooms, the Library Wing classrooms could be reconfigured, converting 12 undersized classrooms into eight standard classrooms and significantly improving the learning environment.  
Furniture, Fixtures & Equipment
$19,500 per classroom
Option 2B includes the cost of modernized furniture and equipment for all new or modernized classrooms at the high school.  Additional FFE are needed for classrooms District-wide.   
Solar Master Plan    Implementation of energy efficiency measures to reduce long term operational expenses and environmental impacts.  District wide, the Plan would cost approximately $5.8 million plus the cost of new roofs, and will likely be completely incrementally.