Schools

LASD Facilities Master Plan Committee – Some Progress

Superintendent Randy Kenyon at a Facilities Master Plan Committee meeting Dec. 17, 2014
Written by lalahpolitico

On January 7, 2015 the  LASD Facilities Master Plan Committee will hold its eighth meeting. Their agenda is to begin an evaluation of  the interesting “new solutions for enrollment growth” which the FMCP participants generated through brainstorming session at their prior meeting Dec. 17, 2014.

FMPC Output so far…

The FMPC accomplishment so far is its recommendation of how to allocate the future “leftover” bond Measure N funds in order to modernize our existing school sites.  After the LASD trustees get done paying for “accommodating enrollment growth and BCS” — preferably by acquiring one new school site — there may be $50 million or so leftover. To bolster the “Yes on N” election campaign public relations, the  FMPC made  broad brush recommendations last October as to which “categories” of  existing campus modernization were most important to “the community.”  What FMPC did not do: they did not identify particular modernization projects at particular schools. The trustees and staff will do that in a year or two.

Tonight: Winnowing the Brainstorming Solutions for Growth

Since October the FMPC — 33 participants with 1/3 being staff & consultants and 2/3 being parents and residents — have evaluated the board’s  3 “solutions for enrollment growth” AND also brainstormed to generate a couple dozen more solutions of their own.  At the January 7 meeting, the group will decide which of the brainstorms will receive more thorough evaluation.

Los Altos School District – Facilities Master Plan Committee – Dec. 17, 2014 Meeting from Norma Schroder on Vimeo. Recommended short viewing is at 27:10 for the brainstorming or at 45:00 for Randy Kenyon’s timeline for spending on Measure N.

Initially each brainstorm has been described by its originators by answering these 5 questions:

Does it require new land? Y/N, how much, where, explain

Does it involve a middle school conversion (move grade 6 to Egan & Blach junior highs)?  Y/N, explain.

Where is BCS housed in this option? Spell it out.

Are any existing LASD schools eliminated or relocated? Explain.

How well does it meet the 14 evaluation criteria, devised by the Superintendent’s Task Force on Enrollment Growth in 2013?  Your opinion.

Recap of the Brainstorms Floated Dec. 17

Not surprisingly “Process” is always a big deal at ad hoc temporary LASD committees like the Task Force of 2013, the Facilities Advisory of 2014, and now at the Facilities Master Plan Committee (FMPC) group.  FMPC accepted ALL applicants ( except no former elected officials ), then it began life with a typical formal committee process for its 30 plus members. But LASD staff must have felt that structure was slow and unwieldy… so the “process” has evolved to a more structured, classroom-like process with short “teacher” presentations and content review followed by small group breakout sessions of 4 to 6 persons. The content presentations and review are often delivered by Committee Co-chair – Principal Katie Kinnaman of Gardner-Bullis in Los Altos Hills, but occasionally delivered by other staff & consultants.  

Lalahpolitico: Over the 8 meetings so far, there has been some considerable polite “push” and push-back about “process.” Thankfully staff took the “hint” from the majority of participants a few meeting ago that the initial “solutions” evaluation process imposed by staff was lousy.  Instead the 20+ FMPC parent and resident participants convinced the 12 staff participants that the “14 Criteria” developed by the 2013 Task Force were a better way to identify the pluses and minuses of proposed “solutions for growth.”

Small Group Group 1 Brainstorm ideas

build a new site NEC for K-6, leave BCS on an existing site

2 – 4 smaller sites like a k-3, 4-6, satellite schools

2 schools on Covington, moving the District offices, utilize the park, building up, acquiring the church, putting 3 schools on that location

having suburban school model rather than a suburban school model

partner with the city and lease a building site vs. purchasing

have year round schools with different tracks

building with multiple stories and one door (?this was funny!)

rooftop spaces, mandated home schooling, underground classrooms, partner with LAH school

 

Group 2 Brainstorm ideas

third middle school

year round-school

site BCS in NEC, so it can act as a [quasi] neighborhood school there

multiple specialized facilities that students rotate through during the year, eg. Science, then art, etc.

acquire St. Williams, reconfigure the entire Covington space for two schools

a reconfiguration of all schools as  K-4,  5-8…. Or perhaps as k-4, 4-6, 7-8

convert an existing to school to a magnet school on Blach or Egan, and give BCS that vacant campus. The magnet would be a k-5 on the junior high.

LASD on the new site, rather than BCS.

use microsites – 1 or 2 acres – for 300 or 400 students

 

Group 3 Brainstorm ideas

look at all publicly owned land. For example. Use public “wild” land to have a nature-based curriculum ( Esther Clark Park  in LAH)

look at Covington, Rosita, St William area — for BCS or for one of the middle schools

can there be a school site at the City Civic Center? Go back to the city about that.

move santa rita to Egan. SR becomes a NEC site.  Move Oak to Blach. And Oak becomes BCS.  Keep LASD k-6 configuration.   Variation: Make NEC on Egan, SR stays put…

new choice school  at Blach or Egan or both.  BCS gets an existing site.  New site/land goes to LASD.

partner with Foothill college for a site.

 

Group 4 Brainstorm ideas

get Hillview back.

lease land instead of buying

use Cooper Park in Mountain View — is a former school site

small school concept. Take leased Waldorf back.  For choice school [Waldorf contract is rent-to-own. LASD can’t get it back]

recofigure gradesfor smaller schools.

year-round school

get two new sites. One for NEC, one for BCS.

make all schools k-8.

share middle school campuses with k-2 schools.

absorb BCS students into LASD, and redistribute them to where the density is needed.

use an AM / PM schedule

 

Group 5 Brainstorm ideas

building two schools on a shared site. The largest sites — Covington Egan and Blach — can all be shared.  One for BCS, and two more schools on the other two.

Covington, especially if St. Williams is in play, is a superstar site with a lot  of space with of possibilities.

repeating others: magnet schools, rotating year-round, re think grade reconfigurations, use city resources …

convert Egan to k-8 for BCS

put a  k-8 at Covington.

put an elementary on Egan.

rebuild the Portola School.  There are 3 sites in North Los Altos good for that. [used to be a 2 blocks east of Egan Jr. High]

a shared magnet school with PA and MV

nuild a mega middle school – contains 4 schools with 300 each — with themes – students can attend different themes through the year

convert all schools to theme/magnet. Put a k-8 magnet on the new site.

Measure N timeline

Superintendent for Business — Randy Kenyon – shared some upcoming bond planning/spending milestones with the FMPC participants so they could understand how their first draft report of March or April might be used by the LASD trustees. See minute 45:00 of the Video of Dec. 17 at the top of this post.  Lalahpolitico will report on the Measure N spending timeline in another post.

 

CONCLUSION:

It is heart-warming to see some of the FMPC participants learning so much about the LASD system and its institutional history for the very first time. However, it is dispiriting to hear Superintendent Jeff Baier reminding the FMPC participants that their mandate is only to “review and evaluate,” not to recommend.  That means their FMPC report will NOT have recommendations/preferences like the Task Force report of 2013 or the Facilities Advisory report of 2014.  Rather the FMPC report will just describe “pluses and minuses” and “gaps and deltas” of various options they “review and evaluate.”

Lalahpolitico hopes that LASD management and trustees are learning that there is broad “customer & employee” interest in much more varied programs –magnets, themes, choice, year-round school — beyond the curriculum gruel of the cookie cuttter “neighborhood school model.” (at least with this particular FMPC “focus group”).  Although many FMPC participants are advocating for putting two or more “schools” on a single “site” – especially at Covington, Egan and Blach sites – no one is o.k. will large schools over 600 kids, except maybe for conversion of the 7-8 junior highs to 6-8 middle schools.

The schedule for the next six FMPC meetings is Wednesdays at  7pm, Jan. 7, 21, Feb. 9, 25, Mar. 4, 18.  LASD Board Room. Covington School.

LASD Facilities Master Plan Committee – Meeting Dec. 3, 2014 from Norma Schroder on Vimeo.

This Dec. 3 tape is presented in the interest of transparency, not entertainment! Excess viewing may cause extreme drowsiness and eyes to glaze over. Do not view and drive!

 REFERENCE MATERIAL:

A. Options suggested by Staff & Trustees that the FMPC has evaluated in prior meetings:

THREE OPTIONS

Option 1 – Add a 10th Site [Lalahpolitico: politically viable] Option 2 – Close a LASD School [Lalahpolitico can’t believe this was even proposed!!! Silly fear-mongering?] Option 3 – Move a LASD School to a Jr. High Site [barely politically viable]

ASSUME: For each option, BCS is placed as a contiguous K-8 on one site, no site sharing or partial facilities sharing.
For each option, the LASD system is converted to a middle school model. [Egan and Blach become 6-8 middle schools]

OBSERVATIONS: Option 1 requires purchase of new land.
Option 2 requires LASD to redistrict.
Option 3 can be done with no redistricting (BCS sited at Santa Rita or Oak).

 

B. Two Sacred Texts….handed down from on high…

1) FOUR CHALLENGE STATEMENTS FROM THE DISTRICT & TRUSTEES

As part of the facilitation process, LASD staff and consultants “recommended” [required]  that the the committee use the ” Four Challenge” as context for evaluating possible enrollment growth solutions. How well do proposed solutions meet the Four Challenge statements? The challenge is to “uphold the very successful” current LASD schools model. Below listed are the five (5) key points in the challenge statement as put forth by the District and LASD trustee policy. Staff required that only the first four be used by the FMPC. Lalahpolitico: Apparently LEED platinum construction and solar energy is not a top goal for the FMPC or a district which houses a large fraction of its students in portables.

  • Our (LASD) goal is to maintain school sizes of less than 600 students as per board policy. Schools should be “neighborhood” schools as much as possible—i.e., be within walking/biking distance for a large proportion of students.
  • Our school facilities should act as a resource for the community, including as parks, playing fields, playgrounds, gyms, etc.
  • We want to be able to maintain class sizes of no more than 25 students per class (K–3) and 30 students per class (4–8) in the short term and, in the long term, no more than 20 students per class (K–3) and 25 students per class (4–8).
  • We need to ensure that we have flexibility with our facilities— that we are able to change with the times and with changing needs.
  • [Note:  not being used by the FMPC]
  • We embrace sustainability and wish to continue investing in “high performing” (energy efficient) facilities—a hallmark of Phase 1 of our modernization program.

 

2) THE 14 TASK FORCE CRITERIA 

The 2013 Task Force committee developed the following criteria against which to evaluate various proposed solutions. The group also ranked the criteria in order of importance.

  1. Does the proposed solution meet the community’s values on class size, school size, type of facility? [Highly redundant with the Four Challenges above, eh?]
  2. Does this solution address the conflict between BCS and LASD?
  3. How does the proposed solution meet the ranges and variability of anticipated student populations—in both LASD and BCS?
  4. Does the proposed solution solve the projected growth[?]
  5. How does the proposed solution affect students, including the social and emotional impacts as well as the academic impact?
  6. What is the political feasibility of the proposed solution?
  7. Does the proposed solution cause disruption to families, e.g. relocation to different school or redrawing boundaries? Does the proposed solution cause disruption to other groups?
  8. How long would the proposed solution last?
  9. What problematic issues might the proposed solution create?
  10. Will the proposed solution adversely affect the socio-economic balance among the schools in the district? Will there be a healthy mix?
  11. What is the financial impact of the proposed solution? Is it within the district’s means without passing a bond measure? Is there state funding available?
  12. What are the traffic and access implications? Walk-ability? Bike-ability? Length of drive?
  13. What time frame does the proposed solution take to implement?
  14. Is there a benefit to the broader community? A broader use for general public?

 

Lalahpolitico:  These are good criteria and are in the right order of importance. The FMPC parents and residents politely clamoured to be able to use them during its “solutions for growth” evaluation process.

About the author

lalahpolitico

Norma Schroder is an economics & market researcher by trade and ardent independent journalist, photographer and videographer by avocation. Enthralled by the growth of the tech industry over the decades, she only became fascinated with business of local politics only in the past couple of years.

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