The Pleasanton school board reviewed the conceptual design for the Lydiksen Elementary modernization project Tuesday night, a design that district officials said was created in collaboration with the school community and faculty.
Staff presented the design to the board at a 3-1/2-hour-long meeting, alongside the architects who won the bid for the project, Aedis Architects. The renovation, they say, will emphasize the natural beauty of the campus, create 21st century and collaborative classrooms and decrease nearby traffic congestion by adding in a second student drop-off zone.
“When Lydiksen was designed, it was the 1960s, when most people walked or bused to school, so they had a shorter drop-off lane,” said Nick Olsen, director of facilities and construction for the district. “And now everybody drives to school, and it backs up onto Foothill Road.”
No action was taken at this time, with the board members receiving the presentation and then offering comments and questions. The design will return to the board for possible approval on March 13.
The Lydiksen Elementary rebuild is among the projects included in the initial $70 million Measure I1 bond issuance authorized by the board in August, with $30 million earmarked for the Lydiksen project. About a third of that amount would go toward soft costs like pre-construction services and furniture while the rest would cover construction, according to staff.
A campus committee consisting of Lydiksen staff, parents and district staff worked with the architects to put together the conceptual design.
The proposed additional drop-off and parking space would be located alongside Sandalwood Drive, with space for the addition taken out of the adjacent turf field.
In order to create more collaborative spaces, staff and Aedis Architects decreased the total number of regular TK-5 classrooms from 29 to 25, and added an extra 270 square feet for collaboration to classrooms for grades 1-5.
In their push to emphasize the “natural beauty” of the campus and surrounding areas, the conceptual design proposes an outdoor sort of “academic quad,” along with a paved “symbolic arroyo” running through the campus, said Thang Do, chief executive officer of Aedis.
“The idea here is to create a lot of open space, to preserve the natural asset of the site, and to bring in what is beautiful about Pleasanton – the hillsides all around there – into the campus,” Do said.
Board vice president Valerie Arkin expressed some concern about the reduction of turf field in order to make way for the drop-off.
Lydiksen Principal Jake Berg, who was on the panel of presenters, said the field reduction would not pose a problem based on present use.
“I would say that even on the busiest days, like field day or fun run, things like that – our field is very large, it does not get fully utilized ever,” Berg said.
Staff added that they will be discussing the field reduction with the city of Pleasanton as well, which also uses the field for various activities.
During public comments on this item, Erica Holdren, a Lydiksen parent and neighbor of the school, said she was excited for the project, but also was apprehensive about how the new drop-off zone would affect traffic on her street.
“I am concerned with the change in traffic patterns. If we do it without a traffic study right now -- Sandalwood is a smaller residential street compared to Highland Oaks,” Holdren said, referring to the street adjacent to the existing drop-off location.
“It wasn’t clear in the letter home, I would like there to be a chance for the traffic study to be done, and neighbors to know what’s coming,” she added.
Though not specifically responding to Holdren, trustee Jamie Hintzke encouraged parents and community members to take a look at schools that do already have two student drop-off zones, like Alisal and Hearst elementary schools.
“Because it really works great,” Hintzke said.
Principal Berg also added that a good deal of student drop-off and pick-up already happens along Sandalwood.
Other modifications proposed include the construction of an outdoor covered lunch structure and creating additional space for an administration building, separate from the library and campus center.
Staff added that they are looking to minimize interim housing during construction, and keep classes in their rooms for as long as possible.
If approved in March, the schematic design phase will begin immediately, followed by construction drawings, six months of review by the Division of the State Architect, and another two or three months for bidding and approval.
Staff anticipates that construction will begin summer 2019, with students and staff moved into the first completed classrooms by fall 2020.
In other business
*Staff from the student support services department presented enrollment data gathered over the course of five years, including from the 2017-18 school year thus far.
As of Feb. 20, district enrollment stands at 14,958, 112 students more than were enrolled as of October 2017. Over the past five years, Pleasanton Unified saw an enrollment dip between 2013 and 2017, but this school year numbers are back around their 2012-13 levels.
Ethnically, the district has seen some demographic shifts as well in the past five years – most noticeably, a 10% increase in Asian students and a 10% decrease in white students.
The annual demographer’s report and projections will be presented at the March 13 school board meeting.
*The board unanimously approved the pilot program of a new assessment system to take place this spring. The system, called MAP (Measurement of Academic Progress), was discussed more intensively at the last school board meeting, at the pilot’s first reading.
Staff hope that MAP could streamline the assessment process for teachers and evaluate students more accurately through its adaptive structure.
*Trustees heard the first reading of updates to board policies and administrative regulations, to match the most updated state regulations.
Among the updates, included clarifying volunteer screening processes, grades and evaluation procedures, student conduct at extracurricular events and updating student testing policies to incorporate the CAASPP, the new state assessment.
*The meeting opened with three recognition presentations.
A handful of students were honored with character awards, after their teachers nominated them for demonstrating exemplary honesty in the classroom.
Several teachers who had earned citizenship over the course of the past few decades were recognized, including Foothill High Principal Sebastian Bull, who was born in England and officially became a U.S. citizen in 2005.
And finally, the two competitive civics teams from Amador and Foothill were recognized for having taken first and second, respectively, at the state “We the People” competition on Feb. 1-2. Both teams will go on to represent California at nationals in Washington D.C. at the end of April.