The improvements are a step back from the German school's master plan earlier this year, which called for major campus upgrades to facilities that date back to the 1960s. Studies of the campus from 2009 found that the built-up roofing and rusting gutters, along with the doors, windows and vinyl floor tiling of the classrooms, were all in poor condition, and the heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system was due for replacement in 2010.
In January, Michael Koops, the head of school, announced plans to make badly needed upgrades, but GISSV had hit a snag: the plans relied on millions of dollars in financial support from the German government, money was contingent on securing better terms on the lease with the Mountain View Whisman School District.
The German school has a 30-year lease agreement to use the Whisman campus that runs through 2045, but the district can choose to kick out the German school as early as July 1, 2030, and can send an advanced notice for early termination as soon as 2025. A representative from the German government told board members at a Jan. 28 meeting that it was willing to pour money into campus improvements in order to maintain its foothold in the Bay Area, but only if there was some assurance the school wasn't going to receive an eviction notice in eight years.
After several closed-session Mountain View Whisman board meetings discussing the property, the lease terms remained unchanged. In a letter to board members this month, Koops said the extra funding is no longer available, and would "not be available in the future for the master plan as shared with you." But adding two classrooms remains an immediate need for the school, prompting the smaller-scale construction plans, Koops said.
The big question before the board at the May 18 meeting was whether or not the district should compensate the German school for its improvements to the Whisman campus. Under the lease agreement, the district can choose to pick up the bill — at a later date and with a partially depreciated price tag — if the upgrades are deemed desirable for the district once the lease ends.
Although board members gave the construction plans a warm reception, they stopped short of agreeing to pay for it. Board member Greg Coladonato said it's reasonable for the German school to expand, but public funds shouldn't go into an investment in to the Whisman campus that don't fit the needs of the district.
"Considering these aren't the improvements we want done, I don't think they're worth anything for the district," he said.
In addition to the portables, the soccer field on the campus would also be graded to be more even, improving drainage and irrigation and increasing the days it can be used during wet winter months. The cost to replace the field with artificial turf, which would cost $2.2 million, is not being considered for the project, Koops said.
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