Blogging Bayport Alameda

September 19, 2013

Let’s get it started

Filed under: Alameda, School — Tags: — Lauren Do @ 6:09 am

Since the School Board meeting from Tuesday is not yet up, but former School Board member Ron Mooney did an amazing job capturing the meeting in tweets.   So for those interested, School Board meeting in tweets about the very important topic of the Master Facilities Plan:

I wasn’t clear on what “Education Specs” really meant and it came up a lot in Ron Mooney’s tweets, so I looked it up.  “Education Specifications” is so complex a term, the State of California Department of Education came up with a whole report describing what they are and how they should be structured, so a brief definition of Education Specifications from the report:

Educational specifications are interrelated statements that communicate (or specify) to the architect, the public, and other interested parties what educators believe is required of a proposed educational facility to support a specific educational program.

Educational specifications serve as the link between the educational program and the school facilities. They translate the physical requirements of the educational program into words and enable the architect to visualize the educational activity to be conducted so that the architectural concepts and solutions support the stated educational program.

From this definition two aspects of educational specifications emerge: (1) instructional matters, often referred to as the educational program; and (2) the physical requirements of instruction, often referred to as the building/architectural program.

Educational Program
The educational program describes the curricula, learning support programs, activities, and persons to be served; defines educational requirements; and represents local community consensus on educational priorities. It should be prepared by educators and should not prematurely suggest architectural solutions.

Building! Architectural Program
The building/architectural program deals with the numbers of students to be housed and numbers and kinds of spaces required and describes areas, spatial relationships, materials, and special features (e.g., use of technology in the classroom) needed to serve the requirements of the educational program. The architect may lead in the development of the
building program but needs guidance from educators in interpreting requirements and determining priorities.

Educational specifications are a part of a total planning process, a natural outgrowth of a comprehensive facilities master plan.

Just to recap what happened in case you missed it in the sea of tweets.  District staff will bring back a recommendation on October 8, 2013 of consultant to start the Facilities Master Plan process.   And three cheers for School Board member Mike McMahon who, from the tweets, apparently moved this whole process along.


  1. I agree — Ron Mooney did a really great job tweeting!

    For those who are still trying to wrap their minds around this Facilities Master Plan thing, the video from Tuesday night’s meeting is up on the AUSD website

    (Just click on the little film icon next to agenda item D.)

    Even if you don’t want to watch the whole 2.5 hour meeting, it’s worth watching the architect’s presentation, which took up the first half hour. He was really good at explaining why districts need these plans and the steps involved in developing them.

    Comment by Susan Davis — September 19, 2013 @ 8:18 am

  2. Ah! Forgot to note that I was posting that as AUSD community affairs person. Sorry!

    Comment by Susan Davis — September 19, 2013 @ 8:20 am

  3. I love hearing mention of tearing some schools down or eliminating them. My whole issue with the “facilitated” HAHS process was it was narrowly focused on figuring out ways to reuse HAHS for students. While there was lip service paid to “anyone with an idea should step forward”, all of the cost analysis was based on reusing the site as an education facility. An enlightened and big picture approach would be to look for ways to convert the site into housing, retail, commercial or some other type of space that would help generate revenue. As such, any bond measure putting money toward HAHS for educational purposes is not going to get my vote.

    Comment by notadave — September 19, 2013 @ 9:12 am

  4. Thanks for posting these tweets for those of us that don’t endulge in this form of communication. While I don’t want to take anything away from Mike’s participation in getting the board to unanimously agree to direct staff to bring back a recommendation for a firm to prepare a fmp for our district, the person that was primarily responsible for getting the board to that decision point and the unanimous vote was Mark Quattrocchi, the architect/presenter who first took 30 minutes to explanin what a facilities master plan was, why it was needed, what the parts of a master plan were, why each part is important, and that it could be done in sufficient time to create a complete facilities master plan that then would be the basis for a bond measure in November of 2014. AND, he explained it in plain English that we all could understand. A key part of his presentation was to show how past reports, plans, and other information that the District already had in its possession could be used in the development of the facilities master plan. This is why it is possible to develop a complete plan in the shortened time and to lower the original cost estimates presented at earlier meetings.

    The next hour involved Mr. Quattrocchi responding to a multitude of questions from the board and the community regarding details of what would be considered in the plan and how it would be developed. The takeaway from Mr. Quattrocchi’s presentation was that the facilities master plan process is a community based activity and requires professionals to interprete the data collected and create a plan that is both responsive to the needs of the community and functional for the students and teachers that use those facilities every day.

    The next critical step in the process of developing a facilities master plan is to get the architect hired. Hopefully, this decision can be made at the October 8th board meeting when staff presents its recommendation for a firm that is qualified to prepare such a plan. Please contact the board members and urge them to make that decision on October 8th, so the community can start providing input to the firm.

    Congratulations to each member of the board for being able to work through their individual concerns and positions and arrive at a consensus on the path forward.

    Jeff Cambra,

    Comment by Jeff Cambra — September 19, 2013 @ 9:29 am

  5. Good morning notadave

    The HAHS Comminity Engagement Project did look at many other uses beyond educational uses and concluded that before the project could make any recommendations to the District, it needed to know the space needs of the District. Informally, the project knew that the rented District offices on Challenger Drive were approximately 22,000 square feet and that new construction costs were higher than rehab costs. Consequently, it would be more economical to consider renovating one of the wings of the Kofmann building to Field Act standards so that the District office could be moved to a District owned building rather than continue to rent. This was not a recommendation, but rather one of a number of possible scenarios.

    The interim request from the project was to see if the District had a use for the full 75,000 square feet of space (or some portion thereof), and if so, confirm that the cost to renovate would be on par or less than new construction. If there wasn’t a need, then I believe the stakeholders would have looked at alternate uses for the buildings.

    The “other than educational” uses discussion raises the issue of who would pay to renovate the building for these other uses? Since the project decided to not evaluate these other issues until it better understood the space needs of the District, this specific subject was not fully discussed. I think the District’s Facilities Master Plan process will provide the space needs information necessary to continue the HAHS use discussion.


    Comment by Jeff Cambra — September 19, 2013 @ 9:53 am

  6. thanks Susan for link and clarifying presentation is first 1/2hr. and Jeff for helpful recap. The news cycle is so miserable these days that if one watches any TV at all it’s hard to justify not watching at least presentation. I’m always anxious to invest the time when there is something to sink teeth into as opposed listening to tedious bitch fest. Interesting and hopeful that Quattrochi incorporating previous work on facilities will cut cost and time, thank god. Lauren, I forget time line for bond in previous blog. Does proposed acceleration align us with elections?

    as for twitter…whatever. I suppose if one had other obligations and was impatient to know what was happening at BOE Ron’s stream would be useful, but I can’t imagine that if I was watching taped segment of Breaking Bad that I wouldn’t be distracted by tweets and prefer to simply watch the tape. Maybe I could watch A’s game and monitor tweets but multi-tasking, or attempting it ain’t that great. Then there is watching live and getting tweets as stream of editorial, but I don’t really see that in the content of Ron’s transmissions. I’ve seen people in gallery at public meetings wildly texting to each other and I don’t really get that either, if you’re really trying to listen well.

    Comment by MI — September 19, 2013 @ 10:09 am

  7. MI: The Board has 7 months if they want to have a bond on the ballot for 2014, the even year is crucial because it only requires 55% voter approval as opposed to the two-thirds +1 % for odd years.

    Ron’s twitter feed was awesome that night because the School Board meeting was not televised on Tuesday night as the City Council meeting was occurring at the same time and because it’s held in the Council Chambers it gets the air time. Unless you were physically at the meeting, Ron’s tweets were the only thing relaying the information of what occurred in real time or shortly it happened.

    Comment by Lauren Do — September 19, 2013 @ 10:23 am

  8. jc wrote ” Since the project decided to not evaluate these other issues until it better understood the space needs of the District, this specific subject was not fully discussed.” My point exactly, Jeff, thanks. It feels like, and maybe I am wrong, that there is now momentum to move forward with a bond measure that would dedicate money to HAHS to upgrade it to field act standards, without bothering to do the due diligence you mention in the quote, and that I think is essential.

    Comment by notadave — September 19, 2013 @ 11:27 am

  9. The FMP will look at whether HAHS should be upgraded or not. That’s why an FMP is necessary. It will look at all the needs of public schools in Alameda and then prioritize those needs.

    Comment by Sarah Olaes — September 19, 2013 @ 1:22 pm

  10. Notadave:

    Rest assured that if I am involved, the due diligence you speak of will take place with everyone (stakeholders and residents) in the room and participating. What is important to keep in mind that the TOTAL District needs will be evaluated before any decisions are made. Intuitively, at the very least, there seems to be a need for District office space (20,000 plus square feet) somewhere. With a complete needs assessment as part of a facilities master plan, even more space might be needed. I have heard that there isashortage of charter school space asan example. The HAHS might be able to satisfy these and other yet to be identified needs. The real key is getting thisdarn facilitiesmaster plan kisk started and completed. Stay tuned.

    As you suggested earlier, if the master plan does not find a need for all 75,000 square feet, the HAHS Community Engagement Project did identify a number of “non-education” uses that would preserve the buildings. Then, we would need to look at a number of factors in deciding on the viability of one of those uses and then make a recommendation to the District. I think this would be a very complicated discussion, but doable. Thanks for your interest and thoughts.


    Comment by Jeff Cambra — September 19, 2013 @ 1:34 pm

  11. Jeff, I understand that we have a legal obligation to avail charters of surplus but I hope you aren’t talking about floating a bond the make more capacity for them. They can go rent at Marina Village like the district office can’t they?

    Comment by MI — September 19, 2013 @ 8:11 pm

  12. the next time a teacher defends TS by saying she asks the right questions, I may refer them to this meeting. I really hate to keep making it personal, but at some point it just is. TS tried to wander out into the weeds on question about bond financing until Mike jumped in and just laid it out, probably shaving 15 to 20 minutes off the meeting. Trish tried to stop him so she could belabor the question with the architect, but Mike persisted. And his answer was pretty much something any BOE member should have memorized. Basic math of bonds. Presenter didn’t correct him or elaborate. I hope my teacher friends who think Mike isn’t friendly enough to their cause see this, cause if in coming election they target him without having a better qualified candidate ( particularly on numbers) then it’s total Tea Party Express.

    When Vital speaks after initial presentation as meeting opens to questions from board I thought I could feel her desperation is stating that what she wants to come of the Q&A is some clear direction from the board. Been a while since I’ve put in the time to watch the BOE show and I’m coming around to Lauren’s theory on staff flight.

    Comment by MI — September 19, 2013 @ 9:47 pm

  13. Hi MI:

    Did not mean to imply or advocate for any specific use of AUSD space. One of the board members had mentioned the charter school situation at one of the public schools as a “space need.” Hopefully, the development of the facilities master plan will be a very public process and that stakeholders and the community will be able to watch as the professionals work on the plan.


    Comment by Jeff Cambra — September 20, 2013 @ 4:37 pm

  14. 13
    Re. this “stakeholders” term: I realize the term ‘stakeholder(s)’ has become le mot du jour, but since you separate each from the other in your #13, what differentiates stakeholders from the community that pays the bills for the District and essentially owns the District? Would they be the ‘stakepayers’ maybe or maybe ‘those people who will be more than happy to float a $140MM bond for the stakeholders while watching AUSD crumble, (Re: September 18, 2013 “Big city news, small town meh,” The fact that only one person leaving becomes newsworthy in such a large metro area with a lot of news going on is pretty amazing. But that four or five senior staff departing in a short amount of time in a city the size of Alameda’s is pretty disappointing.”)?

    Or is the term ‘stakeholders’ reserved for those who attend and stay awake through Board meetings?

    Comment by Jack Richard — September 21, 2013 @ 2:44 pm

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