DUBLIN — When given the opportunity to dream big, Dublin residents had some creative ideas for a new high school: food trucks on campus, cricket as a new sport, electric charging stations and a student wellness center.
The new highly anticipated comprehensive high school has been a hot topic for the school community for years. After grappling with an increasing student population and potential overcrowding, residents pushed for a second high school to alleviate some of that pressure.
Last week, the Dublin school community received an email for potential feedback on three design concepts by the district’s architecture firm, SIM-PBK. The district started with one idea, and because of community feedback, went to six schematic designs, and now is down to three.
Although the district has officially chosen a site — a roughly 25-acre property known as the Promenade — it has not actually purchased it yet. Sandwiched between Central Parkway and Dublin Boulevard, where Grafton Street and Finnian Way intersect, the district and property owner have agreed to go into mediation. The district will acquire the land (valued at $29 million) through eminent domain — when a government obtains property for public use through proper compensation. The process is expected to be completed this fall.
Configuration of the school includes whether to place the front of the school on Dublin Boulevard or Central Parkway. There are also differences in where parking spaces would be placed throughout the site, and various drop-off and pickup zones in each design. The designs also include multiple entrances.
Besides the design and configuration of the school itself, the workshops also asked the community for ideas on programming and classes inside the school itself. For example, at the May 8 special school board meeting, architects indicated residents had said they wanted a focus on science and engineering classrooms, including robotics. Parents, teachers, students and others even asked for classes related to “life skills” — such as practical financial information, including balancing a checkbook.
Swimming was a popular response for sports suggestions, and there was also interest in adding cricket. Although the architects initially came up with a concept design that included a cricket field, they indicated at the May 8 meeting that a cricket field might be added to the nearby Fallon Sports Park. The school could work out a deal with the park for other sports that may not be played on the high school site because of facilities constraints.
From the board meeting, one major concept architects are seeking feedback on is the possibility suggested in community meetings that the three, two-story academic towers instead be switched to just two, three-story buildings. This could make way for more ground space, and a potential swimming pool the community indicated it wanted.
The difference between the two-story and the three-story option would be $7.6 million, architects said. This does not include the cost of adding a swimming pool.
Design-wise, the community favored more modern looks, including buildings that had more natural light through glass facades. They also favored a wellness center for students to decompress, and they strongly wanted a library and a drama component on campus (such as a visual and performing arts center and a theater).
Choosing a site itself took slightly longer than expected. The school board got close to approving a site in 2017, but then backed off after community backlash that the site was too close to Santa Rita Jail.
It wasn’t until January 2018 that the board agreed to the Promenade site, which is about half the land size of Dublin High School.
The first phase of the project will be funded by $100 million from Measure H funds, a $282 million bond measure voters approved in June 2016 to raise funds to build a second high school and alleviate school overcrowding throughout the district.
This first phase is expected to hold up to 1,000 students, and will include the academic buildings, gym and locker rooms, and the football stadium and track fields. The administration building, and the full build-out of the theater, however, may not be completed until the second phase, said Charles Dehnert, district spokesman.
Construction could begin as early as next spring 2020, and the school is expected to open in fall 2022.
Anyone who wants to give feedback on the three school designs can email to firstname.lastname@example.org before 5 p.m. May 22.