MVLA continues work on Facilities Master Plan update

Town Crier File Photo
The Facilities Master Plan update proposes expanding classroom space at both Los Altos High, above, and Mountain View High.

The Mountain View Los Altos Union High School District Board of Trustees was scheduled to hear further reports Monday on the Facilities Master Plan update, aimed at bringing district campuses up to 21st-century standards and providing space for a projected enrollment increase.

Trustees were originally set to vote on the facilities update at Monday’s meeting, held after the Town Crier’s press deadline, but they postponed the vote at their Oct. 23 meeting to allow time to gather additional information.

The need for space

Smaller classrooms built when district enrollment was lower, coupled with a dependence on portables, have left some teachers in classrooms too small for their needs. Space at Los Altos High has gotten so tight that the old weight room had to be converted into classroom space this year.

The situation isn’t much better at Mountain View High, where a teacher complained at an Oct. 12 meeting on the facilities update that she was tripping over students’ backpacks in her small classroom.

Mountain View High also may have to accommodate up to 78 intra-district transfers from Los Altos High next year, a policy the district adopted last month (see article on page 24).

With limited space and land costs at a premium, the only way to grow is up. Plans call for two-story buildings at both campuses to maximize space, with Los Altos High adding 15 new classrooms and Mountain View High adding 14.

The cost of updates

Associate Superintendent Mike Mathiesen and Mark Quattrocci of Quattrocci Kwok Architects, a Santa Rosa firm specializing in school architecture, presented a draft of the Facilities Master Plan to the board.

The plan, called a “living document” by the architects and district staff, is an expansive proposal that not only features new classrooms, but also student unions at each campus, expanded gym and athletics facilities, and maintenance work on heating, air conditioning, roofing and storm drainage.

The ambitious plan comes with costs to match. Improvements at Los Altos High ranged from an estimated $108.235 million to $119.005 million, while Mountain View High’s upgrades are projected to fall between $121.427 million and $132.735 million. After adding the costs of improving Freestyle Academy, Alta Vista High, the Adult Education Center, the District Office and the Corporation Yard, the final total was a low of $270.47 million and a high of $295.03 million.

“As a rule of thumb – and I’m glad you’re sitting down – it’s about $1 million a classroom,” Quattrocci said of the costs associated with construction.

The steep price tag left some trustees with sticker shock. The board countered with a request for a budget in the $210 million to $260 million range, even if that means cutting less essential projects like the student unions.

To view the Facilities Master Plan draft, visit FacilitiesPlanDraft.

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