High School Board: New Long-Range Master Facilities Plan

VivienHIGHLIGHTS& Commentary

The Fullerton Joint Union High School District Board

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During the FJUHSD May 9 board meeting, Assistant Superintendent of Business Services Ruben Hernandez and Director of Facilities Tim Walstrom introduced the DLR Group as the administration’s choice for board approval to create the new Long-Range Master Facilities Plan (LRMFP). LRMFPs represent a long-term plan to allocate resources to support the educational environment needs of students, teachers, and communities and should be updated every 5-10 years. After allocating $175 million on bond project expenditures and experiencing cultural shifts made by pandemic learning, FJUHSD trustees voted in January on a master facilities plan update.

DLR Group

DLR Group was formed in 1966 by Irv Dana, Bill Larson, and Jim Roubal and has grown nationwide, serving as architects, engineers, and educational planners for many school districts. For FJUHSD, Mr. Andrew Thompson (Riverside office) leads a team with facilities specialist Kevin Fleming, and education specialist, Karen Montovino. The process should take six months, with a comprehensive document available by January 2024.

Master Facilities Plans

Master Facilities Plans provide a framework reflecting a district’s vision for future educational environments, focusing on areas to facilitate learning over the next decade.

Mr. Thompson said, “This is a process of discovery and transformation to achieve new educational specifications.”

Mr. Walstrom emphasized that teachers, students, and the district maintenance staff should share what they need from an educational environment with the project partner, the DLR group. No longer hardcopy binders, DLR Group’s LRMFP is a computer-generated program allowing flexibility to consider economic shifts, project priority changes, and unplanned expenditures. Distance learning exposed many additional mental and academic student needs, and the LRMFP should reflect new flexible educational spaces and the capacity to serve as a community service hub role necessary to provide multiple services to students and families.

The Process

The six-month process follows seven steps that include extensive input from staff on existing facility inventory and maintenance, stakeholder input from July through September to form facility plan wish lists, matching costs with potential revenue streams, and prioritizing projects according to need and vision.

New district facilities could include areas for adaptable STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics) classrooms, mental wellness centers, and community service hubs. The LRMFP includes all facilities, including CTE (Career Technical Education) areas serving students studying renewable energy careers and updating trades like electrical, medical, robotics, and automotive that depend on ongoing technical upgrades to stay current.

DLR will likely conduct multiple student information sessions to get candid and hands-on perspectives that no one else can convey as clearly. Students use the locker rooms, bathrooms, and classrooms; they learn, study, eat, and spend a significant part of their waking hours on campuses that serve as instructional hubs as well as their entry point to gain access to educational support, social and mental health services, college financing information, career exploration, and technical support. The staff and the students may have similar goals to achieve high school success, but they experience the physical environments differently for much of that journey.

Cost and Expectation

The trustees approved the administrative choice of DLR Group, with Trustee Lauren Klatzker commenting, “We don’t want to make things good for (just) now, but also going forward.” The $267,082 cost of the plan comes from FJUHSD developer fees. As Trustee Marilyn Buchi requested, it includes two updates, one in June and another in December, with the final plan presented in January 2024.

First Reading of the New Sports Eligibility Policy

Dr. Karl Zener, Executive Assistant of Administrative Services, presented for first reading an updated Board Policy (BP) and Administration Regulation (AR) 5353 concerning student participation in athletic activities. After distance learning transitioned back to in-person instruction, the administration noticed discrepancies between current stricter FJUHSD policies and CIF (California Interscholastic Federation) requirements.

Working with athletic directors, the administration formed a districtwide athletic participation policy aligning BP and AR 5353 with CIF requirements and allowing site principals final determination for student participation status. It leaves participation eligibility for any extracurricular or cocurricular activity up to individual teachers and the site principal. However, district policy states if a student is suspended for any reason, they are automatically denied participation in any school activities during that suspension time.

Students who experience expulsion and return to the district may participate in activities after meeting eligibility requirements. The paperwork students and guardians sign for student sports activities explains the updated policy, and parents should contact the coach or the school site principal to answer any questions. The trustees will vote to approve the new policy next board meeting on June 6.