Friday, November 15, 2019 Message from the Superintendent, Dr. Brent Stephens
Dear Oxford Families,
I’m writing to share with you the latest information about plans for Oxford School. I want to thank you for your engagement and thoughtful feedback as we worked to quickly understand the findings in the Oxford Geotechnical Report and share the decision-making process with the Oxford community.
At the November 6, 2019 Berkeley School Board meeting, the Board voted unanimously to:
“Relocate Oxford students and staff for temporary housing at West Campus for the 2020-2021 school year and to continue to move forward in subsequent phases for long-term planning.”
The West Campus school site at 1222 University Avenue, is the campus adjacent to the School District Board Room at 1231 Addison Street.
If you weren’t able to attend the meeting, you will find the presentation to the Board here. You may also view the School Board Meeting on Youtube. (The Oxford presentation begins at the 1:01:35 mark.)
I’m happy to share further details about West Campus, which will be a modern, warm, and welcoming school site for students and staff for the 2020-2021 school year. The work to make that happen is already underway. Below is the timeline with estimated completion dates for West Campus indoor modernization as well as landscaping work.
This timeline represents work that is already underway, as well as upcoming work to modernize West Campus for the Oxford community.
Upgrades to the current building will include:
- New finishes throughout the building to create bright and cheerful spaces including freshly painted walls, new carpets and other fixtures, furnishings and equipment
- A large new library
- New whiteboards and short-throw projectors
- Upgrades for safety and accessibility needs including wheelchair access, path of travel, signage, and way-finding
- A new food services elevator
- Administrative and support spaces redesigned for elementary school needs.
A multi-colored concrete path will lead students to the modernized West Campus entrance.
The landscaping plan for West Campus features design elements that provide welcoming and engaging outdoor spaces. Incorporating the seasons and the moon phases, the outside campus will offer an attractive, fun and inclusive learning experience. Students and staff will enjoy:
- A defined entry with multi-colored concrete on Addison Street at the Board Room location, and a secondary entry gate on Curtis Street
- Outdoor seating with shade sails
- An artificial turf field
- Outdoor learning environments, including an outdoor chalkboard
- A main playground, a kindergarten playground, and a Japanese hopscotch court
- Garden space, a peace path, and a sundial
- An “enchanted forest” with new trees planted throughout the campus
- A nature learning area
West Campus will include Four-Square courts similar to these:
Students will enjoy outdoor play on quality new courts:
Garden space, including raised-bed gardens, and an opportunity for in-ground planting, will provide students with the opportunity to garden while also enjoying a colorful and inviting outdoor school environment:
Please note that while these renderings represent key landscaping elements of West Campus modernization, they do not, in all instances, reflect exactly what the campus will look like. For example, these images show mature trees.
Finally, I want to share the District’s timeline for moving the Oxford community to West Campus. As you can imagine, a move like this has many logistical elements as well as an ongoing necessity for community engagement and communications.
Within the next few months, Oxford’s School Site Council (SSC) and staff will have an opportunity to tour the modernized West Campus school site. Over the summer, prior to the start of the school year, I look forward to welcoming Oxford families to an open house and school tour.
This Wednesday I met again with Oxford staff to update them on the Board’s decision to move the Oxford community to West Campus for the 2020-2021 school year. We discussed the moving plan now in development and work the District will do to facilitate an easy transition for the entire community. I provided more detail about the West Campus facility as well. Over the next few months I will continue to meet with Oxford families and staff to offer updates and answer questions. Here is a list of opportunities for families to stay engaged through February. Updates regarding meeting dates, times, and exact locations will follow.
|December 11, 2019||Oxford Staff Meeting||Oxford School||December 12, 2019, 6:00 pm||Oxford Community Meeting||Oxford School|
|January 22, 2020*||Update Presentation to Board||BUSD Board Room|
|January, 2020 (Date TBD)||Staff/SSC West Campus Tour||West Campus|
This is a schedule of upcoming meetings regarding moving the Oxford Community to West Campus for the 2020-2021 school year.
*Pending approval of 2020 Board of Education meeting schedule.
Beyond January, we will continue to engage the Oxford community in this process. I expect we will update the School Board regarding the Increment 2 Contract award in a March meeting, and we expect to schedule additional staff and community meetings in 2020.
We will move Oxford Elementary School to West Campus as a community. The Oxford community has benefited from your feedback and engagement throughout this process. OxfordThis is why I invite your ongoing participation in planning for the move. Please join me at upcoming Community Meetings and Board of Education meetings, and continue to provide feedback and suggestions regarding the Oxford move to West Campus for the 2020-2021 school year to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Brent Stephens, Ed.D, Superintendent
Friday, October 4, 2019 Message from the Superintendent, Dr. Brent Stephens
Oxford Elementary School Modernization Project and Geotechnical Report
This week, the Berkeley Unified School Board received the geotechnical report it commissioned in 2017 for Oxford Elementary School, located in a neighborhood known to be built on top of landslide fill. The 440-page report was a required element of the planned Oxford modernization. It was received and reviewed by me and other members of the BUSD staff during the period from September 12 – 27, 2019.
The report was completed by Alan Kropp & Associates of Berkeley, a firm with a great deal of experience in assessing geological conditions around the state of California.
The report confirmed that the school is built on the Keith Avenue landslide, and assessed the risk associated with this site in the event of a major earthquake. The key findings from this report are summarized below.
Key Report Findings
- The study confirmed the Oxford Elementary School site is located within the actively-moving Keith Avenue Landslide Complex.
An extensive compilation of past data indicates this landslide mass generally moves at an average rate of about one inch per year, with significant variations related to annual rainfall patterns; this movement will continue.
- The existing school buildings appear to be in relatively good condition considering they are approximately 60 years old. The buildings, pavement areas, and the existing retaining wall do not appear to have been significantly distressed by landslide movement. The lack of building distress, and limited observed superficial damage on the school property and in the surrounding area, probably indicate that the school property and the immediate surrounding area are moving as a relatively coherent block since these features were originally constructed.
- Based on calculations of the additional magnitude of landslide movement that would occur during an earthquake, the Oxford Elementary School campus would likely have a total movement that might range from as little as 2 feet to as much as 20 feet.
Without major site reconstruction, a high safety hazard would result in the Oxford Elementary School site.
- With some substantial remedial schemes, it may be possible for an entirely reconstructed school campus to achieve reasonable performance but still experience localized non-structural damage.
- The risk to the neighborhood during an earthquake is significant; this may preclude emergency vehicles from accessing the neighborhood and school and may prevent evacuation of children. This could lead to an extended period of isolation. This is already made worse by the narrow streets in that neighborhood.
- The active Keith Avenue Landslide (also known as the North Berkeley Slide) is very large; even if the school were built on a mat foundation, there will still be a debris field around the school, or coming at the school.
Even with a mat foundation, the school will have to be rebuilt after a landslide.
- Some seismologists predict that there is more than a 50% chance that a large earthquake will occur on the Hayward fault in the next 20-30 year window. (UC Berkeley Seismology Lab)
Other Information about Earthquake and Landslide Risk in Berkeley
The City of Berkeley maintains its own website on seismological risk. Members of the community can access this information at this link: https://www.cityofberkeley.info/Planning_and_Development/Building_and_Safety/Seismic_Hazard_Zones.aspx.
Schedule for Engaging the Oxford Community
The following dates are our short-term plans for sharing more about the AKA report with the Oxford and Berkeley communities. Meeting information will be updated, so please check back regularly.
- October 3, Oxford Parent and Staff Meetings held to discuss the report findings.
- October 4, establish website page for ongoing updates, access to the full AKA report, and links to resources; establish BUSD feedback email “email@example.com”
- October 15, 6:00, Oxford Parent Meeting #2 (neighbors invited)
- October 23, Board meeting: Presentation of staff recommendations and parent/teacher feedback to the Board
- Early November, “Technical Panel” Meeting at Oxford with Alan Kropp and other experts, for parents and community members interested in the details
Long Term Timeline for the Oxford Community
For the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year, my current thinking is that the Oxford community will remain in place. The Oxford facility continues to comply with all state requirements for earthquake safety and is in this respect no different from any other BUSD facility.
Moving forward, we will assess our options. The West Campus facility at 1222 University, which is attached to the 2020 Bonar St. District office, is currently being renovated. West Campus is a potential new location for the Oxford community, should we decide to move the school.
Link to the full Oxford Geological Study by Alan Kropp & Associates
Link to the slide deck from the October 3, 2019 Parent Meeting at Oxford
City of Berkeley Seismic Hazard Zones