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Amador Elementary School On Track to Welcome Dublin Students for 2015-16

August 30, 2014
Amador Elementary School Construction Site

Amador Elementary School Construction Site

E-4. It is not a new car model from Tesla, nor is it a spot on Bingo. Instead, E-4 is the code acronym for the newest school site in the Dublin Unified School District. Like its predecessor, E-3 was the term for Kolb Elementary School before it was granted its formal name. OneDublin.org was granted an exclusive tour this week of the JM Amador Elementary School site by Senior Director of Facilities Kim McNeely and Project Manager John Hansen.

The explosive housing growth over the past several years in East Dublin prompted the need for another new elementary campus. The urgency was created based upon enrollment projections based upon the number of new housing units in this vicinity. Needless to say, the planning for this type of enterprise began many years earlier. When Kolb Elementary opened in 2011, it immediately served over 900 students. Fortunately, by then, the blueprints and general concepts for Amador were already in motion. Today, the overall project is well on its way towards completion. Most of the physical structures are standing and are awaiting finishing touches. The large Multi-Purpose structure will be the last to experience final framing and finishing. The elementary campus is slated to open in August, 2015 and will be capable of facilitating 950 students at completion.

In order to understand the scope and breadth of this type of project, OneDublin.org reached out to DUSD Senior Director of Facilities, Kim McNeely to help us understand what it takes to build a brand new school site. Ms. McNeely attained a B.A. in Economics from California State University Hayward. Subsequently, she completed a Master in Public Administration from the same institution. While she began her career with a large retailer in inventory costing, she then shifted to the public sector with the Lodi Unified School District. After a stint in Livermore, she joined DUSD 11 years ago. The time invested in her MPA convinced her to support public education. Our visit was on Wednesday and it was a very enlightening.

DUSD Senior Director of Facilities Kim McNeely and Project Manager John Hansen

Kim McNeely and John Hansen

OneDublin.org:  As of today, please give us an update of the progress concerning E-4.  How has the unusually dry weather helped or hampered construction?

Kim McNeely: “While the lack of rain has been hard on northern California it has been very good for construction this year.  The project is on track to be dried in before the potential rainy season this year which make our project completion date more realistic.”

OneDublin.org: The most recently opened elementary school in the district is Kolb.  What were some of the best practices/features that your team incorporated into E-4 and explain how you utilized community feedback for other enhancements.

McNeely: “We learn many lessons from every project whether they are a completely new campuses or the renovation of an existing campus.  We have developed a teaching wall standard that efficiently meets teacher storage needs and minimizes the space impact on our classrooms.  The campus has connecting doors between classrooms to allow for teachers to share resources and to improve classroom safety.  The campus has corridor spaces that serve circulation needs and allow for small group instruction outside of the classrooms.  We have highly specialized special education classrooms taking best practices throughout the District to the next level, naming just a few areas.

“The process used to gather key program information is called a charette.  A charette is an intensive one day planning activity where stakeholders from every facet of the school gather to share program information/goals and then provide schematic design suggestions the design team will use to inform the campus design.  Stakeholders range from teacher by area, to child nutrition, to technology, to maintenance, to child care, and include City of Dublin experts and our parents.”

OneDublin.org: Northern California may be plagued with drought conditions for the foreseeable future.  How did this influence the planning for the non-black top areas of the campus?

McNeely: “The campus has reclaimed irrigation for all planting areas and drought tolerant planting to reduce on-going operating cost.  Several appropriate areas has artificial turf to reduce our water demand as well.”

OneDublin.org: There is also an acute emphasis on effective energy management at this site. Please describe how this is manifested.

McNeely: “On-going operating cost of any campus is a keen interest.  Energy efficiency begins with design that orients building to take advantage of natural light and reduce the need for artificial light.  Energy efficient heating and air conditioning, highly insulated buildings and windows also help reduce demand.  Compact building design maximizes play space for students but also reduces consumption of natural resources and storm water run off.  Cool roofs reduce the heat gain in the building and don’t make our heating and air conditioning work so hard.  All building systems including heating, air conditioning and lighting are on energy management systems which greatly increase operating efficiency.”

OneDublin.org: Over the last several years, there have been multiple construction and retrofit projects all across the district.  Please articulate the value of working with effective Project Managers and how this ensures positive outcomes.

McNeely: “Project Management of all projects allows the owners perspective to be part of every decision on the project.  During construction, decisions are made daily that can affect the operation of the building and the budget for the project.  Having a highly trained project management advocate manage budget choices and understand the specific program needs of the District helps make sure precious resources are spent the way the district wants and on key program priorities.  The project manager is the District’s voice with the contractor and the architect.”

OneDublin.org: Anything else that you would to add?

McNeely: “The construction of any project in California is a highly complex and specialized process.  It takes the skill and resources of hundreds of people including our community.  The Facilities Team is very pleased with the budget oversight and schedule for the project and we are eager to have our community see this great addition to the District in the fall of 2015.”

So, in the afterglow of the commencement of a new school year, the DUSD Facilities Department has been both looking and working towards what the district will ultimately look like. To help appreciate the perspective of this continuing growth, there is another acronym on the facilities white board. E-5. OneDublin.org would like to thank both Kim McNeely and John Hansen for their contributions to this profile. We will revisit E-4 or JM Amador Elementary School prior to its ultimate opening.

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