SVUSD community urges changes in master plan survey
The need to put students first, provide them with equitable access to resources and invest in what is really necessary are among the suggestions that the Sonoma Valley Unified School District community has made when it comes to a long-range Facilities Master Plan.
Perkins-Eastman, a global planning, design and consulting company, reported the feedback during a slide presentation at the district’s board of trustees meeting on Sept. 20. The company is in the middle of a process that began in June and is scheduled to end in January, designed to help the district create a vision to improve spaces and facilities for students, staff and the school community as a whole.
The Facilities Master Plan will be based on comprehensive information regarding current and future demographics, facility usage and how district facilities can and should address educational needs. It will focus on modernizing aging facilities and improving deficient buildings; constructing or modifying buildings to align with demographics, pedagogy and program needs; and investing in facilities to improve operations such as food systems, energy efficiency and transportation.
Much of the firm’s preliminary work centers around obtaining input from the SVUSD community.
“We’re trying to engage with different stakeholders in different ways,” said Josh Jackson, engagement specialist for Perkins-Eastman. “I have to say that the community here is not shy about saying what they think. We’ve got some really good input. It’s exactly what we’re looking for from this process.”
Jackson said that although the firm hasn’t done an in-depth analysis of feedback yet, it has heard these recurring requests in a community survey and discussions with school district and community personnel.
• Put students first.
• Include all voices.
• Provide students with equitable access to resources.
• Celebrate Sonoma Valley’s culture.
• Address the challenges associated with regarding SVUSD as a district rather than as individual schools.
• Develop outdoor places for learning.
• Address the challenges caused by declining enrollment.
• Invest in what is really needed.
• Effectively adapt to new technology.
Perkins-Eastman has completed facility walk-throughs, provided a workshop on guiding principles for the Facilities Master Plan leadership team and reviewed data.
“The first few months have been about really getting to know the district data and examining facilities,” said Patrick Davis, principal with Perkins-Eastman, at the board meeting. “The summer was a great time to get in the classrooms without students and staff in them so that we could really look at the structures.”
During the summer, Perkins-Eastman met with school principals and took 360-degree images of every room in every school to facilitate informed decisions during the planning process.
The firm’s ongoing work includes more engagement with school staff, holding community town hall meetings and conducting public surveys.
The Perkins-Eastman group has engaged directly with school-based staff at all schools except for Sonoma Charter School, which it will visit on Monday, Oct. 3, and Woodland Star Charter School, which it will meet with on Tuesday, Oct. 4.
These meetings are designed for the firm to provide an overview of the Facilities Master Plan, hear directly from school staff about their experiences and vision for the future, and help develop guiding principles for the district.
Community town hall meetings already have been held at Sonoma Valley High School (for Sonoma Valley and Creekside high school communities), Adele Harrison Middle School (for Adele Harrison as well as the Sassarini and Prestwood communities) and Altimira Middle School (for the Altimira community: El Verano, Dunbar and Flowery elementary school communities; and Sonoma and Woodland Star charter school communities).
“We’ve now transitioned to walking the campuses and getting to see the schools in action,” Davis said. This is an exciting part of the process because we’re really getting to feel the heartbeat of the campuses.”
Davis told the trustees that he and Jackson would like to have an in-depth discussion with them about the Master Plan. Trustee John Kelly suggested that Davis and Jackson meet both with the board as a whole and one-on-one with each trustee. The board didn’t reach a decision on the matter.
A website, sonomavalleyfacilitiesmasterplan.org, has been launched that contains information and a public survey on the district’s principals and priorities. At the time of the board meeting, 108 people — 29 administrators, 18 teachers, one student and 60 community members — had filled out the survey.
“One of the really good things we’re seeing is we’re starting to get more clicks on the survey,” said Dr. Adrian Palazuelos, superintendent of SVUSD.
Davis told the board that he and Jackson would like to have an in-depth discussion with them about the guiding principles of the Facilities Master Plan. Trustee John Kelly suggested that Davis and Jackson meet both with the board as a whole and one-on-one with each trustee. The board didn’t reach a decision on the matter.
Perkins-Eastman also plans to conduct educational adequacy assessments, assess nonschool public properties and further identify the district’s needs.
“We’ll then take all the information we have, analyze it and process it to understand what the real needs are that need to be addressed in the Facilities Master Plan,” Davis said. “As we identify these needs and find ways of addressing them, we’ll get into some facilities planning.”
Reach the reporter, Dan Johnson, at email@example.com.