Board okays firm to craft facility plan

Board okays firm to craft facility plan

Michele Ellson

Alameda’s Board of Education has selected an architect to craft a master facilities plan for the school district – its first major facilities plan in half a century.

Quattrochi Kwok Architects will put together the plan, which is expected to be the basis for a series of facilities bonds the school board is expected to put before voters. The board will vote on the work they expect the Santa Rosa-based firm to do – and the price for that work – on October 22.

If approved, the planning effort would begin this month and be completed in June 2014. District leaders had hoped to be ready to put its first facilities bond on the ballot by May 2014.

Two of the four board members who attended Tuesday’s meeting – board president Niel Tam and member Barbara Kahn – said they were comfortable with the plan being proposed, while the remaining two – Mike McMahon and Trish Spencer – said they’d like additional sites considered. The existing proposal will cost the district an estimated $238,500.

Other items that could be studied for the plan include space for Alameda’s charters, which educate about 10 percent of the Island’s public school students; permanent housing for the Alameda Science and Technology Institute; purchasing the former Miller Elementary School site, which the district left due to a lack of proper sewage facilities; and use of the old Island High School site on Eagle Avenue, which the district is set to surplus and is part of closed-door negotiations with the city. The plan could also examine the best place to put the district office, which is in leased space in Marina Village.

Some board members had balked at the originally estimated cost of the plan, which was $300,000 to $350,000. But Superintendent Kirsten Vital credited QKA with bringing costs down for the study, which will be used to decide what to pay for with any bond money voters approve and to secure matching funds from the state.

“I have to tell you, this is a very good deal in the grand scheme of things, with a pretty extraordinary architect,” Vital said.

The architecture firm proposes to hold a study session with the board to determine what trustees believe the study should contain, and then to conduct more than 40 meetings with committees at each of the district’s schools to get a feel for educational and security needs, dropoff, playground and other improvements. It would also conduct a trio of community-wide forums.

Under QKA’s proposal, the school board would create a committee to develop educational program guidelines for the district’s elementary, middle and high schools. The firm would generate a building program detailing facility needs and standards. The plan would make use of existing demographic and school facility studies that were conducted in 2010.

In addition to looking at existing schools, the firm is proposing to assess what’s needed to make Historic Alameda High School fit for student use again, and at what that would cost. The firm offered preliminary estimates during a community discussion process earlier this year, but those numbers were based on costs for another school it helped fix, according to its six-page proposal.

The firm would also look at the district’s maintenance and supply yard and warehouse. Superintendent Kirsten Vital said some community members want to increase the number of spectators who can attend games on Alameda High School’s Thompson Field; if the district’s warehouse were removed, the field could be expanded to accommodate as many as 4,000 spectators, she said.

QKA conducted an assessment of fixes and upgrades needed at all of the district’s schools that was completed and released in June 2012.