The Belmont-Redwood Shores School District Board of Trustees heard an overview on the progress of each of the five Measure I and N facility construction projects at its Thursday meeting.
The construction projects include additional modular growth classrooms at , and , as well as lunch area transformations, improvements to walkways, drainage, entryways, outdoor spaces and refreshing of the learning environments at five school sites (Nesbit, , , Fox and Ralston). Ralston will also see construction of a new library and administrative offices.
Architect Laura Knauss of Lionakis Architects showed schematic drawings of the various projects.
Two components of the modernization projects prompted discussion between the architect and board members.
The proposed removal of lockers at Ralston due to space restrictions raised questions about how students would go about their day with heavy backpacks, as well as safety issues.
Knauss explained that the California State Department of Education building codes require hallways have a certain student passing width, and the lockers take up too much of that space. Also, with a projected enrollment increase of 300 students next school year, there would be no room for additional lockers at the middle school.
Superintendent Dr. Emerita Orta-Camilleri explained that additional lockers will be available in the physical education locker rooms for students to store their belongings.
The impact of classroom expansion on youth sports fields also raised some concerns by youth sports organizations.
Rich Bortoli, a member of the Belmont Sports Advisory Committee and the Belmont Parks and Recreation Commission, addressed the board citing his organizations’ concerns.
“The four additional classrooms at Fox will impact the soccer fields to the right of the classrooms. If we moved the fields over, that would require grading changes due to the slope of the field,” said Bortoli.
And of the Ralston site, he said, “The baseball diamond that is currently closest to the school will go away, and the diamond in the far corner of the field (used by Pony League Baseball), will have its outfield impacted.”
Bortoli also said that sports groups are concerned about the loss of a soccer field at Ralston used by U12 players.
Knauss pointed out that Measures I and N both speak to making the fields whole during the construction process and said the architects and have met with representatives from the city of Belmont, the Parks and Recreation Department and youth sports organizations to address these issues.
In an e-mail to Assistant Superintendant Nellie Hungerford, Tom Snider, also a member of the Sports Advisory Committee, asked the district consider some steps to mitigate some of the negative impacts of the building expansion.
Suggested steps include adding synthetic turf to Fox and Ralston, allowing sports groups to use new fields in Redwood Shores, re-stripe, grade and irrigate and replace fields and infrastructure that are impacted or lost, and a commitment to repair any damage done to the fields.
Board member Brian Matthews said, “I am concerned about the fields, and I don’t know if we have the funds to do everything we want--but I don’t want them forgotten.”