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Status of Facilities

Community Input Sought on Future of Historic Alameda High School

Dear Alameda Community,

Beginning the week after Spring Break, the Board of Education will be holding four community meetings seeking input regarding the future needs and potential uses for the future of the seismically unsafe portions of Historic Alameda High School (HAHS). Jeff Cambra and Alice Lai-Bitker, both respected community leaders and mediation specialists, will be managing this community engagement process seeking to involve stakeholders throughout Alameda.

Here are the dates for these Community Meetings:

Meeting Type

Date

Time

Location

Video Link Documents & Minutes

Facilities Meeting "Education"

Thursday, April 11th

6:00 PM

AHS Cafeteria

Click Here

Minutes

Field Act PPT

Fact-Finding PPT

HAHS Renovation PPT

Facilities Meeting "Options"

Monday, April 15th

6:00 PM

AHS Cafeteria

Click Here Minutes

Facilities Meeting "Options"

Saturday, April 20th

1:00 PM

AHS Cafeteria

Click Here Minutes

Facilities Meeting "Presentation of Rehabilitation Costs"

Thursday, May 9nd

6:30 PM

AHS Cafeteria

Click Here

Rehab PPT

Narrative

Summary

Detail

Facilities Meeting "Shared Interests"

Thursday, May 21st

6:30 PM

AHS Cafeteria

   

The community engagement process in April and May will be followed by a Final Report to the Board of Education at the Board's regular meeting on May 28. That report will include a list of agreed to and disputed facts, a complete list of options for utilization of HAHS, and a report from the facilitator on the results of the May "Consensus" meeting.

Additional Community Input on Other Facilities Decisions

Later this spring and next school year, the Board will also seek additional community input on any future decision to purchase rather than lease space for the District Office and on the many issues we need to answer about the long term facilities issues facing our schools and community.

You can view the District-Wide Facilities Report that was presented to the Board of Education at its June 4, 2012 meeting for more information.

Historic Alameda High School

FAQs regarding AUSD Facilities – August 2012

1) I heard the fence around most of Historic Alameda High School (HAHS) cost “almost $1 million.” Is that correct?

No, that is not correct.  The hard cost of the fence is $211,300.

Here is the simple (hard cost) breakdown for all of the seismic mitigation work now underway at HAHS:

Structural Upgrades to the Buildings: $552,830

Repairs to Existing Stairs: $16,500

Fence: $211,300

Stair Protection Structure: $106,370

2) Has the District done any facilities work at school sites this summer?

Yes. This summer our outstanding staff has worked hard on many facilities improvements at all schools across the District. We hope this facilities work helps teachers, staff and students start out the new school year on a positive note.

In total, during the summer of 2012 there has been in excess of $3 million worth of facilities work done, with projects at every one of our school sites.

3) I understand the District Office is moving later this year. Is the current District Office building really unsafe?

Yes, the building where District Office is now located is unsafe and presents a risk to human safety for the people working and visiting there.

Historic Alameda High School (HAHS) was built in the 1920s along with Patton Gym. The buildings of HAHS currently house the former City library in the west wing, several AHS classrooms and Kofman Auditorium in the center building, and the AUSD District Office in the east wing. Until this summer, the Alameda Adult School was also housed in the east building, which is the building closest to Oak Street.

In February of this year, the District received a structural engineers' report detailing the serious safety issues posed by the un-retrofitted sections of HAHS. According to the analysis completed by the structural engineers, in the event of a large earthquake on the Hayward fault, the un-retrofitted sections of HAHS (housing AUSD's District Office, the former public library and the adjacent former Adult School building) are at risk of a pancake-type collapse in which the buildings' floors would detach from the walls and fall down inside the buildings onto those inside. The engineers' report explaining these risks is here on our website, where it has been posted since last spring. 

It is important to note that the areas currently housing AHS classrooms and Kofman Auditorium (the center building of HAHS) were seismically retrofitted in 1998. Accordingly, AHS students and staff in classrooms in HAHS or at events in Kofman Auditorium are currently in a safe, retrofitted, State-certified building. The activities and classes in those rooms in the middle of HAHS will continue, although we are taking additional steps to improve the safety of the building by shoring up entrances and exits students routinely use. The nature and extent of these modifications, however, will render District Office uninhabitable.

4) Isn't the risk of a major earthquake fairly remote and therefore the risk to human safety quite low?

Unfortunately, experts have predicted a high likelihood of a major earthquake on the Hayward fault in the next 30 years. The United States Geological Survey recently released a forecast that there is a 63% probability of a magnitude 6.7 earthquake in the Bay Area in the next 30 years and, more specifically, a 31% probability on the Hayward fault.

We are all aware that life is not without risks and that our dwindling resources in a difficult economy necessitate that we make do with less than ideal working conditions. However, based on all of the available information, continuing to occupy the un-retrofitted portions of HAHS presents an unacceptably high risk to our employees and community members who use our District Office facility every day.

Our very highest priority must always be the protection of human life and safety. At the June 4 community workshop about these issues, one long-time classified employee spoke plainly about the importance of this value when she explained that she favors moving District Office from Historic Alameda High "so my grandchildren can have their grandmother a little longer, not because I want a new cubicle." Although we have many facilities needs in AUSD, the un-retrofitted buildings at HAHS are the only facility presenting a risk to human safety. The nearby Hayward fault has not had a major earthquake since the 1800's, well before HAHS was built.

In July, construction began to improve the safety of the building by shoring up entrances and exits students and teachers routinely use. These measures are designed to save the buildings from complete collapse and protect those around them; they will not render the buildings habitable. In order to fully retrofit the buildings, the District would need to undertake substantial additional work at a significant additional expense.

As we conclude this phase of our efforts to overcome the facilities challenges we face at HAHS, we will continue to work with all in the community to decide how best to move forward and make the best possible use of these important buildings.

5) How were the problems with the HAHS building discovered?

In order to comply with the Field Act, Alameda High's Patton Gym (which is attached to the back of the building housing Kofman Auditorium at HAHS) was closed in the fall of 2010 when historic records confirming that Patton Gym was Field Act certified could not be located. The Field Act is a State law passed in 1933 regulating school architecture for seismic safety and to ensure student and staff safety. The Department of State Architecture (DSA) issues Field Act certifications. DSA has since confirmed that Patton Gym is certified and it has reopened.

Following the closure of Patton Gym in 2010, AUSD continued to work closely and carefully with DSA and with structural engineers to investigate the seismic safety of the rest of HAHS. The Seismic Evaluation Report in February was the result of that extensive work and that continued investigation with DSA and the engineers.

6) I heard that the District Office doesn't need to be in a Field Act compliant building. So why is it moving?

The District Office is not moving in order to comply with the requirements of the Field Act. The Field Act was intended to set a very high standard for structural safety in order to ensure that students would be safe while attending school and that our neighborhood schools would be suitable for use as community centers in the event of a major earthquake.

This very high standard does not apply to buildings intended to house only adults. However, as explained above, the un-retrofitted portions of HAHS are not suitable for any type of human occupation as measured by any applicable building code. According to the structural engineers' report, these buildings present an unacceptably high level of risk to human life and safety.

7) Can't the District Office just stay put while the retrofitting is done?

No. The nature of the retrofitting work makes the building housing District Office uninhabitable. HAHS was constructed using materials that modern safety standards now prohibit. As a result, the retrofitting work is disturbing materials that have been found to present significant risks to human health. For example, the asbestos contained in the former Adult School building which also housed the Human Resources department necessitated the relocation of Human Resources out of the building before work could even begin.

Furthermore, even when we complete the seismic retrofitting to save the un-retrofitted buildings at HAHS, those portions of HAHS will not be habitable for students or employees without great additional expense, much more expense than the Board approved this summer. In other words, our current work to shore up HAHS is to save the buildings and protect those around them. We are not now undertaking the additional work and significant expense to fix all of HAHS to be habitable.

The Board of Education recognizes that this is just the first phase of our efforts to overcome the facilities challenges we face at HAHS. The District will continue to work with all in the community to decide the future use of our important historical buildings

8) Does the District Office really have to move?

Yes. We understand how difficult this process and decision to move District Office has been for many in Alameda, including employees who work in District Office and those who work at school sites. We also know there is no perfect answer to the complex issues involved. However, this move is the best we can do under difficult circumstances beyond our control and it is the right thing to do to protect the safety of staff.

9) If the District Office has to move out of HAHS because the building is dangerous, why are you keeping the middle section of the building open and in use after you move?

As mentioned above, in 1998 AUSD completed a seismic retrofit of the center building of HAHS, the area currently housing AHS classrooms and Kofman Auditorium. Accordingly, AHS students and staff in classrooms in HAHS or at events in Kofman Auditorium are currently in a safe, retrofitted, State-certified building. Accordingly, the activities and classes in those rooms in the middle of HAHS will continue, although we are taking additional steps to improve the safety of the building by shoring up entrances and exits students routinely use and fencing off dangerous areas.

10) Why doesn't District Office just move over one building to the east building where the Alameda Adult School was until this summer, the building closest to Oak Street?

That east building is also unsafe. Even when we complete the seismic retrofitting to save the un-retrofitted buildings at HAHS (housing AUSD's District Office, the former public library and the adjacent former Adult School building), those portions of HAHS will not be habitable for students or employees without great additional expense, much more than the Board approved this summer. In other words, our current work to shore up HAHS is to save the buildings and protect those around them. We are not now undertaking the additional work and significant expense to fix all of HAHS to be habitable.

11) How much is the lease or purchase going to cost?

The annual lease payment will be budgeted at $660,000.

12) Why isn't that money being spent on the schools, students, teachers or staff outside of District Office?

Our very highest priority must always be the protection of human life and safety. Although we have many facilities needs in AUSD, the portion of HAHS housing District Office is the only facility now presenting a risk to human safety. The nearby Hayward fault has not had a major earthquake since the 1800's, well before Historic Alameda High was built.

It is important to note that the funds to be spent on the lease or purchase of a facility to house District Office are from restricted facilities funds that, unlike unrestricted dollars from our general fund, cannot be spent on programs for students or employee compensation.

In addition, even with this lease, the vast majority of our facilities funds will continue to be spent on school sites. For example, the budget for our "Routine, Deferred and Capital Management" of our facilities is budgeted in excess of $3 million annually. There are also additional restricted and one-time facilities funds as well as projects funded from the Measure C bond that we are spending on school sites.

13) Why can't the District Office just move to empty classrooms in the District? Aren't there plenty of empty classrooms?

We have considered many possible alternative sites for District Office, including this approach. The unfortunate reality is that we simply do not have room to relocate District Office into existing District facilities.

Based on current enrollment, there are fewer than ten vacant classrooms spread across seven different school sites in the District.

Trying to split up parts of the District Office into the few open classrooms spread across the District would be highly disruptive to school sites, inefficient, and inconvenient for families and the public. In addition, because our schools do not have a high number of vacant classrooms, we would still be forced to lease some additional space even if we split up the District Office.

14) Why can't the District Office move into portables at Wood? I heard that's where District Office used to be.

We also explored the possibility of placing additional portables at Wood Middle School to house District Office there, but concluded that was not feasible. The large number of portable classrooms necessary to house even half of the District Office there would not only be highly disruptive to Wood, but would also be very expensive and a poor financial investment as the portables would depreciate in value and fail to provide us with any long-term assets.

We estimate that this approach we would cost approximately $2.5 million and the District would still have incur substantial additional costs to lease a building to house the remainder of District Office staff.

15) Why can't the District Office move to either of the previous Island High sites, either the former Miller elementary site in the West End on Singleton or the old Island High site in the East End at Everett Street and Eagle Avenue?

The former site of George Miller Elementary School, also known as the "Singleton property," is no longer owned by the District. In 2010, it became clear that to maintain the site would have required many different, very expensive infrastructure investments. As a result, in 2011, the District returned the property to its original owner, the Navy, and moved Island High from the Miller site to its current location at what is now the AUSD Educational Options Center located at 1900 3rd Street (Woodstock).

The previous Island High site, also known as "old Island High" (at Everett Street and Eagle Avenue) has not been in use for several years and currently has no usable rooms. If it were ever were to be used for staff or students, it would require new portables or new construction, since the portables there have deteriorated, are uninhabitable and have been condemned. As a result, using that site is not feasible for the same reasons moving into portables at Wood is not feasible: Buying many portable classrooms to house District Office would be very expensive and a poor financial investment as the portables would depreciate in value and fail to provide us with any long-term assets.

16) Is District Office moving to a bigger office instead of economizing and getting the smallest, cheapest place possible?

No. We have investigated every reasonable alternative for relocating District Office. After a months-long process, we have pursued only the lowest cost and most efficient solution. In the end, we negotiated a competitive, reasonable rate for the facility we are leasing, lower than the rate for other commercial space we considered.

The leased building will reduce the footprint of District Office from in excess of 40,000 square feet down to approximately 24,000 square feet, representing a significant downsizing, reduced space and set of sacrifices for District Office employees.

17) Why was the final decision to move District Office made in July? Was there any public input leading up to this big decision?

Throughout the five and a half months from when we received the structural engineer's report in February to the Board's approval of the lease of the new facility for District Office on July 27, there was substantial public involvement and transparency in the process leading to the Board's decision to approve the lease.

In fact, staff's recommendation that the Board approve a lease for a new facility for District Office at the Board meeting on July 27 was the ninth public presentation to the Board since February on the dangerous condition of the buildings of HAHS: The Board has heard staff reports and public comments on these issues at Board meetings on February 14, February 28, March 19 (at a joint meeting with the City Council), March 27, April 24, May 8, June 4 (at a special community workshop), June 12 and July 27.

District staff discussed these issues repeatedly with the leaders of our employee bargaining groups last spring, including at two meetings of the monthly Superintendent's Council. The issues were also reviewed by a Classified School Employees Association (CSEA) employee safety committee which also concluded the District Office must be moved.

The issues that were before the Board on July 27 were the subject of Op-Ed pieces, articles, letters and postings in the local media (in the papers and on-line) and were also discussed in many other meetings and conversations with groups and individuals over the previous five and a half months.

18) Why is there now a fence around most of Historic Alameda High School?

The fence is designed to protect people from being hit by pieces of concrete and other debris from HAHS in the event of a major earthquake. It is part of the temporary seismic shoring-up work at HAHS.

The fence is at the outside edge of a "barrier zone," the distance that State of California engineers calculate debris could fall in case of an earthquake, even a 6.9 or 7.0 quake. The outward danger zone is equal to the height of the building.

The I-beam posts in the fence go down into the ground about 8 feet, cemented in. They are specifically engineered and intended to hold back the force of any debris falling off the building.

Because the fence had to be placed closer to the building wall that faces Oak Street, more seismic retrofitting will take place in that section of HAHS to protect students and other pedestrians on the sidewalk.