Call for green school upgrades

Parents of local elementary school children want greener, more energy-efficient schools, prettier campuses and more space for their children to eat and learn, they said during a community discussion Monday on possible school district renovations.

As Mountain View Whisman School District trustees prepare to approve a 10-year master plan of facilities, they invited parents to a public forum to talk about construction and expansion ideas. A dozen parents came to the meeting with long wish lists of changes they would like to see.

The district board passes a master plan each decade, and this year's plans could range from upgrading the fire alarm system to adding classrooms to alleviate overcrowding. School officials said they could build a second story on some campus buildings or take back leased land.

"Everything is on the table," said architect Bill Gould, whose firm, Bill Gould Design, is helping the district with its 10-year plan.

The renovations could cost up to $192 million, according to Bill Gould Design, and trustees said they want parent feedback before they make any decisions. After that, the next step is to place a bond issue on the ballot, probably in 2010.

The parents spent about half of the two-hour forum discussing ways that the schools could go green, and many liked the idea of adding solar panels to the roofs. Other ideas included placing systems in the classrooms that could automatically turn off the heat if a door was open and making the water faucets automatic, so kids don't leave them running.

"There is no reason for not working with green buildings," said one Castro parent, who is employed in the sustainability sector. "We should [try to be one of the most sustainable schools."

Several parents suggested that the students be involved in making the campuses green by growing the food eaten in the cafeteria or building their own solar panels to go on the roof.

Parents were also interested in improving the schools' appearance. They said many campuses were not exciting places to learn; instead, students just saw long, traditional rows of classrooms when they arrived to school each morning.

Looking around the Castro multipurpose room, Alison Hicks, a Castro parent, said the gray color of the walls made it look like a "Kleenex box." Other public buildings, she said, such as the public library, had been renovated and were now more appealing to local residents.

"We've redone our library and it tells the kids that books are important," Hicks said.

She added that the schools should "give kids the signal that learning is important."

One dad suggested that the schools should reflect the different "ethnic mix" of families in the district, so everyone "feels more welcome."

Parents also had suggestions on how the district should expand to accommodate growing enrollment. Larger cafeterias were needed, they said, since some children don't get to eat lunch due to limited space. Additional office space for all teachers was another suggestion.

"Our poor art teacher takes things in and out of her car," Hicks said.

As part of the master plan process, the trustees also heard a demographic analysis.

A political consultant will discuss bond measures and polling with the board during its meeting on Thursday, May 7 at 7 p.m. in the district office, located at 750-A San Pierre Way, Mountain View.


Posted by PTA Mom, a resident of Blossom Valley
on May 8, 2009 at 8:56 pm

What will the pact think of next.

Posted by Todd, a resident of Waverly Park
on May 9, 2009 at 10:08 am

I have heard of schools in Washington State that grow their own food for the lunch program. What a clever idea and it teaches kids the basics of life.

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