Tahoe/Truckee schools eye update to building master plan

Margaret Moran
A site enhancement suggestion for Glenshire Elementary, seen here on Thursday morning, is safety at the parking and drop-off area. This suggestion and others have come out of a TTUSD facility master plan update process that began in August.
Margaret Moran / | Sierra Sun

TAHOE/TRUCKEE — For Cris Hennessey, a parent of a Kings Beach Elementary second-grader, school safety is key.

“… I’m not a proponent of living in fear; however, our playground is absolutely a freaking nightmare,” she said.

Hennessey’s main concern is the number of access points to the school’s playground at 8125 Steelhead Ave. At a recent Tahoe Truckee Unified School District forum, she suggested officials look into a main funnel entrance as a possible solution.

Ideas like Hennessey’s are among several the district is considering as it works to update its facility master plan, a process that started in August of this year.

“We do have clean and safe facilities; we just have needs,” said TTUSD Superintendent Rob Leri, in an interview late last week.

To help identify those needs across the district, TTUSD has hired California-based LPA, a sustainable design architecture firm.

After conducting site tours of the district’s 11 schools and gathering feedback from teachers, principals, parents, students and community members, LPA presented its findings and initial solutions at two community forums on Nov. 7 in Kings Beach and Truckee.

Safety and security, maintenance needs, alignment with the district’s vision of graduating students with 21st century skills and future enrollment projections are among items being considered.

Some initial identified site needs/concepts include:

• Expanded administration and reconfiguration to control school access, a dedicated student drop-off zone, and adjustments to restrooms to meet current code at Kings Beach Elementary.

• Technology and wireless upgrades, creation of a student union, and increased band room size at North Tahoe High School.

• Upgraded parking lot, replacement of portable classroom buildings with permanent construction, and creating a problem-based learning science lab with a greenhouse at Glenshire Elementary.

As the process continues, those and other site needs will be further refined, said Kate Mraw, an LPA associate.

Estimated improvement costs and funding options will also play a role, Leri said.

“We don’t want the funding to drive the facility master plan at the beginning because we want everything out on the table,” Leri said. “Then there will be (the) reality when we have so many dollars and these are the priorities, so this is what we can and can’t do.”

Possible funding options include a general obligation bond, grants, capital facility funds and state funds.

“The other thing driving this is that we hope that there may be a statewide facilities program coming up in the future,” Leri said. “If we don’t have an updated facility plan, we’re not even in contention for possible state matching money or state grant money.”

Up to $224,000 is in TTUSD’s facility budget to update the plan, with as much as $163,000 going to LPA, Leri said.

The goal is to present a rough draft to the school board in January 2014, Leri said. It’s unknown when a final plan would return to the board.

TTUSD’s facility master plan was first approved in 2003 and was revised in 2007.

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