Stone Valley Middle School Now Under Construction!
Demolition of Stone Valley Middle School in Alamo began in March. Crews knocked down all of the ancient school buildings and classrooms as part of the school's $37 million new construction project.
As far back as 2009, district facilities staff recommended that the next facilities bond should include as a high priority project the complete modernization or replacement of Stone Valley Middle School. There was a great deal of discussion regarding Stone Valley MS over the next several years. A major concern was that it was not economically desirable or feasible to use a "band-aid" approach to upgrading the school environment piecemeal. The valid belief was that the existing school, built in the early 1950's, would soon be subject to significant remodeling or demolition to make way for the new school.
It took several years before Measure D, the $260 million local school facilities bond measure, could be placed before the voters. It was approved in November 2012 with a "super majority" vote of over 55 percent of voters in favor. It should be noted that a normal bond vote requires a vote of 66 percent in favor. However, Proposition 39 allows a bond approval vote of 55 percent if and only if the local school board establishes a citizens bond oversight committee. The San Ramon district fulfilled this requirement by creating the Facilities Oversight and Advisory Committee (FOAC). This committee not only oversees the bond expenditures but also is empowered to offer advice on facility design and construction issues.
The school board, district facility staffers and FOAC all agreed that the Stone Valley renovation should be placed at a high priority on the bond project list. When the bond measure passed, plans were started for the new school.
An important step was to involve neighbors and resident in the design process. A major constraint of the design was the limited amount of land available for the new school. At just under 10 acres, Stone Valley Middle School is one-third to one-half the size of most other district middle schools. This meant that the most efficient use of the available land dictated that the new school have an L-shaped design consisting of two stories. You can visit www.buildsrvschools.org for details and plans.
Several neighbors expressed significant concern over the two story plans and a number of meetings with school district staffers, FOAC and neighbors were held. The architects re-designed the plans to reduce the height of the building and repositioned the structure on the site.
The final plans were approved by the school board and were then submitted to the Division of the State Architect (DSA). It is not generally known but local municipalities and government entities do not have oversight of school designs in California. Plans do not have to be submitted to local jurisdictions but must instead be reviewed and approved by the DSA. This ensures that school construction plans are consistent with best construction practices. After all approvals were obtained, 24 temporary classrooms were located on the site and the project was able to move ahead.
Stone Valley Middle School serves about 600 students. The estimated completion date is for the start of school in late summer 2017.
It will be an exciting day for the first students attending classes in a brand-new school. This event is certainly not in my experience – the middle school I attended in Ohio was built in 1906.