The following 2 articles appeared recently in the Springfield Times:
How Will Pleasant Hill Schools be Safer?
Included in the May 20th bond measure proposed by Pleasant Hill School District are multiple improvements to increase the safety across the District campus. Considerations regarding safety include not only the deterrent of violent crimes on site and in the buildings, but also the less publicized threats that exist at schools across the country: bullying, theft, vandalism, and vehicular related issues.
These types of threats will be addressed through a variety of approaches.
The elementary parking lot will be configured to separate bus and car traffic as well as provide clear and safe access for students and other pedestrians from these areas to the front doors of their buildings. Parents have long struggled with the elementary school parking lot congestion, leaving students to weave between cars and buses. The new plan will remove bus flow from the parking lot and provide wide, defined sidewalks and crosswalks back and forth. Multiple alternatives for on-site bus drives are being evaluated. The District plans to engage staff and parents with their architects in this evaluation. If the bond passes in May, those design meetings will take place immediately thereafter.
Building perimeters will receive improved doors and door locks, including electronic card entry which will also aid in control of use after hours to those authorized for entry. Additionally, the District will reduce unsafe travel of students between buildings by eliminating the elementary portables, adding control fences and gates, and providing a more compact building footprint for the replacement wings at Pleasant Hill High School.
Offices will be configured to have better visibility of the parking lots and main entry points to monitor people entering and leaving the building. Safeguards will also be incorporated to route visitors through the office prior to entering the rest of the building.
Cameras already exist at multiple locations. The systems will be expanded to include areas not already covered.
Classrooms will receive better window treatments to control visibility in the event of a lockdown procedure. Replacement door locks and, in some cases, new doors will also allow for better lockdown procedures.
Phones and intercoms will be improved by the modification or replacement of these systems in each building to ensure that communication between the main office and the classrooms is clear and reliable.
The Pleasant Hill School District is committed to balancing these improvements with maintaining a welcoming, open, and positive environment for their students, staff, and community. National studies support that an environment that students feel safe in will improve their overall achievement. The Pleasant Hill School bond will achieve these district-wide goals as well as others critical toward their mission of providing the best education for their students.
A Phased Replacement at Pleasant Hill High School
Included in the May 20th bond measure proposed by Pleasant Hill School District are additions and renovations at Pleasant Hill High School.
Originally built in 1962, Pleasant Hill High School has had additions up through 1975. While some of the structures are still viable, the oldest portions are in need of significant renovation or replacement. The two main academic wings are among the oldest structures and are proposed for replacement under the current bond measure. There were multiple drivers for this recommendation that was made by community and staff.
Age: The primary structures are 52 years old. Schools of the 50’s and 60’s were built with a 75 year expected life. Any additions will outlast the existing structure. Any major renovations will not significantly extend the useful life of the building, so a bond for renovations would be paid off within 10 years of the time in which the building should be considered for replacement. This oes not make good financial sense.
Condition versus cost: Based on the data collected and estimates for overall building repairs, the cost to repair or renovate the academic wings would be 63% of the cost of new. Again, with the remaining expected life and delta of renovation to new, further expending funds on these buildings does not make financial sense.
Educational Environment: The academic wings were designed at a time of assembly lines. Repetition was thought as efficient. Current best practice promotes that this is actually inefficient. Students and teachers learn and instruct differently, and a variety of space size and configurations are critical for improved student achievement. Core concepts in current educational environments are: project-based, flexibility, transparency, personalization, technology rich, and collaborative.
The new classroom wings will include modern science labs meeting current state mandated curriculum needs and will include all safety equipment as well as be versatile enough to handle chemistry needs with separated storage, mixing hoods, and support systems.
The replacement wings will also include technology labs. These will have both fixed and mobile capabilities and be tied in with a school-wide wireless access infrastructure, so access to homework assignments and lesson plans can be obtained from anywhere on campus. With that access will also come security measures to help safeguard that information and ensure students are only looking at appropriate sites.
The general classrooms will be made durable and energy efficient. They will also have the same technology tools available at other regional districts with computers and audio and video enhancement. This is not to replace traditional instructional methods, but to supplement them to maintain the competitive offerings in Pleasant Hill.
A critical part of the approach to these wings will be to maintain a separation between the high school grades and the middle school grades as well as address the specific needs of those different aged students. Each of these two grade clusters will also have a commons area for pull out instruction, class collaboration, and independent study. How that separation occurs and the overall configuration and placement of these new wings will be part of a staff and community-based design process occurring after a bond is passed. The District chose not to incur the costs for design until such time as there were funds to support it.
In addition to these replacement wings, the high school will also receive renovations to some of its spaces and systems. A new technology infrastructure will be provided as well as replacements of portions of the roofing and domestic plumbing. All restrooms and locker rooms will have finishes and fixtures replaced. The front office will be reconfigured to provide better line of sight to the front entry and parking lot as well as control of who enters campus.
The high school kitchen is a concession stand next to the gym. The proposed bond measure would be to construct a true prep kitchen in order to pursue the nutrition goals of the District to provide healthy meals and alternative choices for students.
The existing wood gym floor would be replaced. The District is also proposing to add a second gymnasium next to the existing one. The new gym will accommodate State mandated P.E. requirements in addition to fulfilling the need for more athletic space and increased community requests to use the District’s facilities.