The Mountain View Los Altos Union High District oversaw significant construction and demolition on the Mountain View and Los Altos high school campuses over the summer, adding new classrooms for the 2021-2022 school year.

MVLA used $295 million in Measure E bond funds, which voters approved in 2018, to underwrite construction projects at both high schools.

New classrooms

At Mountain View High, the new, two-story classroom building primarily houses space for social studies and life skills courses, with the life skills section accommodating students with the greatest needs.

With the two-story building, an elevator was installed for accessibility. According to Associate Superintendent of Business Services Mike Mathiesen, the state inspector signed off on the elevator Sept. 3.

Whiteboard material takes up significant space on the walls within classrooms, as per requests from teachers. Classrooms have higher ceilings and are now 960 square feet compared to the approximately 700 square feet of the former classrooms.

Like Mountain View High’s classroom building, Los Altos High’s new building is two stories high and includes an elevator that has been in use since Aug. 23. The building boasts an indoor area with artificial grass, intended to be a student gathering space.

Significant natural light is allowed into the building, intended to maximize energy efficiency throughout.

One challenge the schools face with the new classrooms is reaching a compromise between opening and closing windows. While closing windows and doors maximizes the energy efficiency of the building, keeping doors open provides a safer barrier against COVID.

When older classrooms were constructed, engineering, robotics and computer science programs were not as prominent as they are today, so students previously met for STEM-related programs in hallways.

“That was their home,” Mathiesen said at the Aug. 23 MVLA Board of Trustees meeting. “Then, when we added the 600-wing Measure A construction, we moved them into a classroom and that was a dreamlike space, but it was still a converted modular classroom.”

Now, Mountain View High has a dedicated space for engineering programs within its new classroom building.

“Students and staff seem to be acclimating well to the new classrooms that just opened,” Mathiesen said via email. “They are enjoying the larger classrooms and spaces designed for particular programs – like culinary arts, engineering, robotics, computer science. Students are also enjoying the outdoor spaces to sit and gather.”

Doors of the new buildings are outfitted with electronic locks, a new safety enhancement that has required some software programming adjustments. Staff are still familiarizing themselves with the feature, along with other upgrades included in the new buildings.

Under construction

Construction continues into the school year on other projects.

At Mountain View High, classrooms 201-208, the counseling and administration building, were demolished over the summer to make space for the new Student Services building. Meanwhile, at Los Altos High, the administration and counseling building and the 100 wing that housed four classrooms and the attendance office, was razed to make way for its new Student Services building.

Both Student Services buildings are expected to be completed within two years.

According to Mathiesen, construction on the new Mountain View High auxiliary gym is scheduled to wrap up by Sept. 30, 2022. The new synthetic turf field is set to be installed in November. Students are adapting to the work zone, he added.

“The new construction has taken space from the quad and has created alternate student traffic flow around campus, but students are pretty adept and adjusting and making new norms for how to get from one part of campus to another,” Mathiesen said of the ongoing work at Mountain View High.

By

Staff Writer

Angela Tam covers local schools as the Town Crier's education reporter.