Facilities Plan Aims to Accommodate Student Growth

Two-story Student Services building, classroom structure and auxiliary gym enlargement planned

By Emma van Geuns, Justin Yu, and Ashley Cai


Click on the highlighted buildings for more information.

As part of the MVLA School District’s Facilities Master Plan’s most recent draft, Los Altos’ attendance building, small gym, and the 600 wing and the nearby portables will be replaced and expanded. From approval to finishing construction, the entire process will take approximately two years.

The MVLA School Board started discussing the Facilities Master Plan last year after conducting a demographic study of the two high schools. The study projects that enrollment in the district will increase rapidly in the coming years to 4,576 total students at Los Altos and MVHS in the 2021-2022 school year, more than either campus can accommodate. The district aims to match this growth with the addition and renovation of buildings on both campuses, and will vote to finalize the plan on Monday, December 4.

Designed by architectural firm Quattrocchi Kwok Architects (QKA), the latest draft of the Los Altos part of the plan has three main components:

  1. A two-story classroom building will replace the 600 wing and nearby portables. This will create more space for engineering programs such as Robotics and Design and Prototyping.
  2. A two-story Student Union and administration building will replace the two administrative office buildings. The building will house all current administrative and counseling offices, provide student workspaces, and create a new College and Career Center and Wellness Center.
  3. Expansions of the small gym and library and small improvements to the cafeteria and the school entrance will provide new spaces for campus activities.

Along with these changes, the draft plans provide maintenance for facility repairs throughout the school.

The plan proposes to provide more places for students to work, with the new Student Union providing a collaborative workspace with tables and WiFi access.

“I think today, students are looking for much more of a collaborative meeting space,” Superintendent Jeff Harding said. “Universities almost all have them; we’re looking at adding that as well. The library is really crowded and you can’t eat there. And student enrollment is going to grow, so we sort of want an alternative space [in the student services building].”

Since Los Altos will not gain acreage, additional construction projects will require architects to squeeze in more building space and utilize space more efficiently.

“We’re in a situation here where to accommodate the growth on the footprint we have,  we’re going to have to build more densely than we’ve been building,” Harding said. “You’re going to see two-story construction, buildings a little more tightly packed than you would see otherwise, more square feet of building per square foot of land space.”

After presenting the school board with $210 million and $250 million drafts that cut down on costs and decreased the size of the Student Union on Monday, November 6, QKA is currently drafting a $268 million plan with less compromises, per the school board’s request.

The main difference between the three versions is the Student Union component of the Student Services building: the $210 million version would remove it entirely, the $250 million version would reduce its size by 20 percent and the $268 million version would keep all of it. Regardless of the school board’s decision to keep or remove the Student Union, the counseling, student services and the College and Career Center will still be consolidated into one building with administration.

To generate revenue for the project, the school board will ask the public for money through a bond, requesting to put the bond on the ballot in February 2018 for a public vote in June. Consultants conducted a study that tested public approval for two bond amounts of $198 million and $268 million and found that the public supported both measures, with approval ratings at 67 and 72 percent, respectively. The ratings are enough to pass over the 55 percent approval needed.

While the school board looks to approve the plan in three weeks, the Facilities Master Plan is still a work in progress.

“We’re expected to take action in a few weeks, so we’re still in the fine-tuning phase,” Harding said. “There’s such complexity and the dollar figure is so significant, so we want to make sure we get this right with community input.”