PUSD board reviews redesign plans for crowded Bernal intersection | News | PleasantonWeekly.com |


PUSD board reviews redesign plans for crowded Bernal intersection

Also: Parents of special education students report dissatisfaction in annual stakeholder survey

Pleasanton school district leaders talked Tuesday about the city's design options for adding a second left-turn lane from westbound Bernal Avenue onto southbound Sunol Boulevard at the busy Bernal-Sunol-First Street intersection. (Photo by Jeremy Walsh)

For its final regular meeting of 2019, the Pleasanton Unified School District Board of Trustees covered plenty of ground on Tuesday night, including reviewing new design concepts for upgrades to a key Bernal Avenue intersection and results from the PUSD School Quality Stakeholder Survey.

A high-priority traffic-calming project for the city, the intersection redesign concepts call for adding an additional left-turn lane from Bernal Avenue in one direction at the intersection where Sunol Boulevard merges into First Street -- where the PUSD headquarters are located.

"We need to add a second left-turn lane on westbound Bernal to southbound Sunol. We need to do it without changing the traffic signals and avoid causing even further delays," Adam Nelkie, senior civil engineer for the city, told the school board.

According to public records, "depending on the reconfiguration option, there will be an impact to district property and loss of frontage trees" requiring PUSD to negotiate a property transfer and improvements with the city. Nelkie said that an arborist recently examined the trees in question and "indicated these trees are at the end of their lifespan and actually in declining health."

Several alternative options for the intersection design are listed in district documents; the city's first and most preferred plan calls for widening to the north into district property, which city staff said has the "best geometrics" and lowest construction cost.

That plan -- which is the least expensive with a $490,000 price tag and doesn't require building any retaining walls -- also calls for the removal of heritage trees and acquiring approximately 5,400 square feet of PUSD property. Nelkie added that the preferred design could provide an opportunity as well to possibly add a gateway entrance to the downtown area.

The second, and most expensive, option would widen to the south into the hillside by the Pleasanton Hills Homeowners Association. Ten-foot high retaining walls, offset travel lanes through the intersection and the acquisition of 9,250 square feet, would be required to complete the estimated $1.7 million proposal.

A third option costing $868,000 would widen both to the north and south and reduces the speed limit through the intersection in addition to constructing six-foot retaining walls and the offset of vehicle lanes. The removal of heritage trees would be required and the city would need to acquire 1,500 square feet of right-of-way from PUSD and 3,900 square feet of right-of-way from the Pleasanton Hills HOA.

The design completion and right-of-way acquisition process by the city are expected to move forward this spring.

"It's a little hard to say," according to Nelkie, but if all goes according to plan, he said construction could start in spring 2021 with major construction taking place during summer after school is out.

In other business

* The trustees heard results Tuesday night from the second annual PUSD School Quality Stakeholder Survey, which polled 5,409 community members this past spring including parents, staff and students on "aspects of school climate including academic support, student support, school leadership, family involvement, safety and behavior, communication and community building, as well as overall school quality."

Sections for special education and so-called "504 plans" were also added to make the survey "more inclusive" this year, as was a survey option for community members currently without students enrolled in PUSD. Patrick Gannon, spokesperson for PUSD, shared the results, which he said "were pretty consistent with last year, which is not a bad thing, especially given the increase in participation."

Overall, more than half of all respondents rated the overall quality of their respective school sites as "good", and 24% to 48% of respondents in their respective categories rated them as "excellent." The district also received high marks across the board on academic and student support, and safety and behavior.

However, students marked the district lower in a few categories; exactly half agreed that their school had good leadership while 46% answered positively about their school's communication and community building.

But one section of the survey regarding 504 plans, which are designed to help students with disabilities learn alongside their classmates, raised concerns for some of the trustees.

Parents indicated they felt respected and comfortable meeting with their child's teacher, and 55% agreed the district "provides adequate information about organizations that help parents of students with 504 plans." Less than half -- 44% of parents with children with special needs that responded to the survey -- agreed that their child's 504 plan was accommodated.

"It could be that the parent expectations are not necessarily informed by the realities of the way school services are delivered," Trustee Joan Laursen said.

"In other words, they have expectations about something that's not actually the way school does business for a variety of reasons," she added. "The teachers are doing the best they can. They do really great work in this area but it's not being received by students or the parents, so I'd like to tease out a little bit more about what's causing this disparity (among survey results)."

* A contract for a seven-week science summer camp at Donlon Elementary School was unanimously granted by the board on Tuesday. Last summer, Galileo Learning LLC held a six-week science camp at Fairlands Elementary that received positive feedback and provided 50 student-weeks of scholarships for PUSD students.

This year Galileo is asking the district for permission to use Donlon's facilities for another summer camp program that would be a week longer and offer an extended daycare option, meals and 60 scholarship student-weeks, valued at $618 each. PUSD will receive about $44,500 as part of the agreement.

The board also approved the district's own summer school programs, which "will provide credit recovery and academic intervention instructional opportunities" in the form of credit recovery and intensive academic intervention for high school students, math and English/language arts intervention for K-8 students, pre-K for incoming kindergarten students who haven't attended preschool, and special day classes and extended year programs for identified students in grades pre-K-12.

PUSD summer school is projected to cost $798,090, which will be covered by General Education, Local Control and Accountability Plan, Title I, and Title III funds. Extended school is funded by the special education budget, and summer enrichment is fully paid by student feeds and LCAP budget assistance for students with financial need.

* A portion of Measure I1 revenue will be used to fund pilot testing of audio visual equipment in PUSD classrooms, after the trustees signed off on the $76,000 purchase.

According to the district, each classroom will be outfitted with "standardized audio visual presentation equipment, including a digital display, audio amplification and a document camera" in order to "optimize student learning by utilizing innovative technologies." Staff have recommended purchasing 15 bulbless projectors, and 15 interactive flat panels and mobile carts to be used in all district schools.

Staff at all 15 PUSD schools will be asked for input as part of what Superintendent David Haglund called a "school-by-school design process" to help determine which devices are best suited for the different sites.

* Multiple trustee appointments for various committees such as the Tri-Valley Special Education Local Plan Area, PUSD Audit Committee, City of Pleasanton Economic Vitality Committee, and Tri-Valley Education Coalition were also made during the beginning of the meeting on Tuesday.

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Like this comment
Posted by Michael Austin
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Dec 11, 2019 at 5:11 pm

The correct option would be to acquire 1500 square feet from PUSD and 3900 square feet from Pleasanton Hills HOA, and charge PUSD and Pleasanton Hill HOA per square foot costs for the project.

6 people like this
Posted by Jtjh
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Dec 12, 2019 at 2:30 am

Why, Mr. Austin?

Like this comment
Posted by Fifty Years Here
a resident of Pleasanton Heights
on Dec 12, 2019 at 8:49 am

Fifty Years Here is a registered user.

I want to go back to that corner and have just one more burger from the BJ Corral!!!

5 people like this
Posted by ddclausen
a resident of Old Towne
on Dec 12, 2019 at 10:05 am

ddclausen is a registered user.

I remember BJ Corral. Remember when Bernal was Pico and it ended at the entrance to Olde Towne. It was a much different city in the early 80’s.

4 people like this
Posted by Get the Facts
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Dec 12, 2019 at 10:40 am

Get the Facts is a registered user.

I drive that way every day, and I don't see that left turn being a problem. Maybe it's the time I go (between 7:00 and 7:45), but the signal changes enough that I've never seen left-turn cars get backed up beyond the left-turn lane. It doesn't seem like it needs fixing.

1 person likes this
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Dec 12, 2019 at 11:01 am

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

“ Staff at all 15 PUSD schools will be asked for input as part of what Superintendent David Haglund called a "school-by-school design process" to help determine which devices are best suited for the different sites.” These are audio visual devices they wish to pilot. While school-by-school can address different needs of each school’s population, I hope quality and quantity equity will be a priority at each grade level—no one school/grade should have BMWs while another gets Yugos.

3 people like this
Posted by I love a parade
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Dec 12, 2019 at 11:03 am

I love a parade is a registered user.

The facts are that during commute time, it may easily take 3 light changes to get to turn left. Hard to believe for those of us used to traveling off-commute hours, but I got stuck in it one morning after 7:30. In addition to commute traffic, parents getting their youngsters to school exacerbate the congestion, and it genuinely, factually is a problem. Remember there is PMS to the west of the intersection with parents from Vintage Hills, Ruby Hill, Grey Eagle and other eastern residential areas with students going to Vintage Hills or Valley View elementary and perhaps another headed for PMS. Perhaps even one for Amador or Foothill High School. That's a lot of traffic for an intersection with only 1 left turn lane to add those heading to 680 for their own lengthy commute. Yup. It needs fixing.

1 person likes this
Posted by James Michael
a resident of Val Vista
on Dec 12, 2019 at 1:03 pm

James Michael is a registered user.

Inevitable...small town becomes a small city and then small city becomes a medium size city. I don't follow traffic trends so I don't really know, but in my opinion a lot of our traffic is caused by parents getting the kids to school (not that they should be blamed). When there are traffic problems the officials in charge usually tout "public transportation" to help ease the congestion. Would bringing back school busses help? I don't know, but I think Kathleen R. might. I'm sure it couldn't hurt in the a.m. commute.

3 people like this
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Dec 12, 2019 at 5:35 pm

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

One big problem is over 200 elementary students who are not able to attend their neighborhood schools, forcing parents to drive elsewhere in town to get their child to school. Second, in my opinion, is a lack of safe cycling routes (although I know there is a group pushing the city on that topic). There was also the Amador mess earlier in the school year while the solar project caused the temporary loss of 400 parking spots.

I would hope any change in this intersection would include lanes for cyclists.

Busing is not coming back (I was on the board in the early 90s when it was decided to cut them). There was an attempt to have parents pay for the service, but many families couldn’t or wouldn’t pay. Very awkward for drivers—do you leave a child standing at the curb and drive away?

Buses are now over $100K; there would have to be fuel, parking, maintenance, mechanics, drivers, benefits, pensions, all adding to costs there is no money for (increasing pension contributions on the district side are fairly crippling). My understanding is we don’t even have sufficient custodial staff (always seems their jobs and hours are the first cuts). Anyone else feel Amador, or any other school for that matter, is not being properly maintained?

3 people like this
Posted by Map
a resident of Del Prado
on Jan 7, 2020 at 8:35 am

Easy fix. Just build a “flyover” from westbound Bernal to southbound Sunol thus encouraging even more cut-thru commuters to blow thru our city streets twice a day, seems like everything is about making it easier for cut-thru traffic!! Once the city planners get their way and build out East pleasanton with stack and packs they better plan on making Valley Ave a double decker freeway or find some other way to get into town from Livermore and beyond.

Like this comment
Posted by DKHSK
a resident of Bridle Creek
on Jan 7, 2020 at 9:23 am

DKHSK is a registered user.


Serious question:

How can a school district such as Los Banos in the Central Valley afford school bussing but Pleasanton Unified can't?

I only know this because my niece is a school bus driver for LBUSD.

Anyone lurking from the school district want to chime in?


Like this comment
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Jan 7, 2020 at 11:08 am

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

Here’s a link to Los Banos: Web Link The one elementary schedule I looked at starts at 6:25 a.m. (elementary!), and if I read it right, you have to live more than 3 miles away to qualify for an elementary bus. Not exactly busing for all.

All districts, as far as I know, provide transportation for special needs students, as does PUSD. PUSD tried to support busing with a fee, but what does a driver do when a parent doesn’t pay (and many didn’t)? You can’t leave a student on a corner. There’s a longer version, but the district cut $1MM a year for at least the three years I was on the board—out of a then $40MM budget, and busing took one of those hits.

Buses cost more than $100,000 the last I looked; then you need drivers and their benefit impacts and vehicle insurance and fuel and maintenance—not a cheap thing to reinstitute. Plus, the district and city worked with Wheels to provide routes that serve most, if not all, areas. You need families to want their children on those buses. Not likely at the elementary level.

Even “wealthy” districts are selective about providing transportation. Here is a report (2014) from LAO: Web Link

Like this comment
Posted by HUH
a resident of Birdland
on Jan 7, 2020 at 1:26 pm

Pleasanton is a wealthy community

Like this comment
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Jan 7, 2020 at 2:40 pm

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

Sure, not considered a wealthy district relatively speaking though. Piedmont 2017-18: $15,578 per pupil; Pleasanton: $10,754. You can find info on districts at ed-data.org

Like this comment
Posted by Karl
a resident of Pleasanton Heights
on Jan 7, 2020 at 2:46 pm

Sure - I think it's true "New Pleasanton" is wealthy.

The rest of us who have lived here for a longer period of time are not so wealthy (note our home equity doesn't really exist until we sell the property, unless we take out loans we can't really afford).

Id all the new, rich Silicon Valley workers want to pay for buses, please go ahead. Just don't charge me for them.

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