One of many projects putting Measure I1 bond money to use in Pleasanton schools, Hart Middle School marked the start of work for its new science building with a groundbreaking ceremony at the future site on Tuesday.
Board President Joan Laursen introduced the socially distanced outdoor event, which was live streamed on social media and also attended by the Pleasanton Unified School District Board of Trustees, cabinet members and staff, and Hart student body president.
Hart science department chair Brian Wigand told the crowd that "we were beyond ourselves but it also seemed impossibly far away" when teachers at Hart first heard about the new building, "and yet here we are now at the groundbreaking."
"One of the things we definitely learned this last year in teaching is that so much of a student's education is based on creative teaching, responsive teaching and innovative teaching," Wigand said. "It's not completely based on a flashy building, brand new lab tables and the latest technology, but it sure ain't gonna hurt."
This week's kickoff on the first phase of work will see a new parking lot and secondary drop-off lane added, then the science building courtyard during the second phase, and the science building's construction during the third phase. The existing science labs will be renovated into general education classrooms, and four portable buildings will be removed from the site in the fourth and final stage of work.
Overall, the project won't add much capacity, but Hart eighth-grade science teacher Ali Orsi-Davis said that "students, families and the community are all aware of the impact of deliberately tailored and secure learning (that) space can create."
"I happen to speak from experience on that matter after having left a position when classroom conditions sent me to the emergency room," Orsi-Davis said. "The investment that the Pleasanton community has made to drive the future meshing of science, technology, engineering, arts and math -- 'STEAM' -- to the forefront of this district's agenda is astonishing."
Orsi-Davis added, "Pleasanton's next generation is now given an opportunity to become those emergent scientists equipped for well beyond the 21st century. "
The trustees unanimously approved a $1,941,747 contract with Silicon Valley Paving Inc. for work on the project's first phase just several days earlier at their April 22 meeting. Construction costs were originally estimated around $2.25 million, but the latest bid reduced that by about $300,000.
Total costs for the new Hart science building are estimated at $11.4 million, and will be funded by Measure I1 bond revenue. Work is expected to finish on the first phase of construction by August, according to PUSD.