MVLA board weighs Facilities Master Plan options

Elizabeth Barcelos/Town Crier
Mountain View Los Altos Union High School District Trustee Phil Faillace suggested Cupertino High’s student union as a model for updating MVLA facilities. The building houses the library, administration offices, collaboration spaces and other student services.

The Mountain View Los Altos Union High School District Board of Trustees entered round two of deliberations with Quattrocchi Kwok Architects over the Facilities Master Plan during its Nov. 6 meeting.

The original facilities proposal, presented last month, came in at an estimated low of $270 million and a high of $295 million. Proposed upgrades include new classrooms, student unions, expanded gym and athletics facilities, and maintenance work on heating, air conditioning, roofing and storm drainage.

As trustees had requested, architect Mark Quattrocchi returned to the board with two more budget-friendly options for upgrades at district high schools: one with a $250 million price tag, and a more barebones proposal totaling $210 million.

Both plans would defer work at Alta Vista High School, the Adult Education Center and the District Office and exclude improvements to the athletic fields at Mountain View and Los Altos high schools. Work at Freestyle Academy would be reduced 30 percent.

Student unions

While Quattrocchi introduced the $210 million budget, it was not his recommended option. Eliminating student unions at Mountain View and Los Altos highs brought the less-expensive plan down to size, favoring instead renovating and expanding the current administration buildings.

Trustee Debbie Torok seemed amenable to axing the student unions entirely or drastically cutting them down.

“I’m not really sold on the student union thing,” she said. “If we were to do a student union, it has to be effective. I hear what the principals are saying about rainy days and where the kids are going to go, but I don’t envision a ‘techy’ area. I envision more of a user area where kids can collaborate. It doesn’t have to be bells and whistles – it can be just the space.”

Other trustees, however, would not commit to the downgrade.

When trustees discussed building student unions on a smaller scale, Quattrocchi expressed concern.

“If you scale back student unions now and build something you’re not proud of, you’re not going to be able to fix that later,” he said.

The student union at Cupertino High School, a previous Quattrocchi Kwok project, was brought up frequently as an example. Trustee Phil Faillace, who had toured the Cupertino High building, urged fellow trustees to visit Cupertino’s student union before committing to a decision.

“There’s something about meeting in the middle,” Quattrocchi said. “What you could do is a 10 percent savings instead of 20, and we could provide a student union not unlike the size of what Cupertino’s looks like.”

Expanded classroom space

Quattrocchi took the board’s suggestion and budgeted for expanding some of the smallest classrooms at Mountain View High by eliminating the breezeways between them.

An estimated 57 percent of Mountain View High’s classrooms measure approximately 740 square feet, making them some of the smallest in the area and a poor fit for a school that expects to see enrollment rise along with the growing housing stock in Mountain View. Approximately one-third of Los Altos High’s classrooms are that small.

But even a small expansion here and there is not likely to ease the squeeze at the two high schools.

“When we built our last 12 (classrooms) at both schools – boom boom – Mountain View filled them up before they even had more students that showed up,” Trustee Joe Mitchner said.

Mitchner referenced Los Altos High Principal Wynne Satterwhite and Mountain View High Principal Dave Grissom in his plea for expanded classroom space.

“Wynne’s been crying ‘uncle,’ Dave hasn’t yet,” Mitchner said.

“Uncle,” Grissom replied from the audience.

Next step

The board set a timetable to approve a final draft of the Facilities Master Plan at its Dec. 4 meeting. The board has a meeting before that, scheduled Monday, giving trustees more time to review their options.

To view the proposed budget options, see page 6 of the Nov. 6 board meeting packet at

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