News

Ravenswood school board approves initial design for $50 million renovation of Belle Haven Elementary

Belle Haven Elementary School in Menlo Park. Photo by Sue Dremann.

Belle Haven Elementary School will be the first campus to be renovated using money from a recently passed bond measure, after the Ravenswood City School District school board voted Nov. 17 to approve a $50 million budget and a schematic design for the project.

The plan, part of the $110 million Measure I bond that passed in June, includes renovating all instructional rooms at the school, located at 415 Ivy Drive in Menlo Park, and creating new early childhood classrooms and new spaces for students with special needs. It also includes seven new classrooms at the school, and relocates and expands the gym, moving it closer to the field entrance for easier community access, according to a district press release.

Trustee Bronwyn Alexander, who taught at Belle Haven Elementary for over a decade, said in a statement that the plan represents the largest campus improvement since the school was built in 1948 and is "desperately needed." She said she's thrilled to get rid of the vinyl curtains and be able to attract neighborhood kids to the school.

Earlier this year, Chief Business Officer William Eger said that district elementary schools still have uneven sidewalks and classrooms that haven't been updated since the 1950s, with some 20 to 30 years past their useful lives. Termites have destroyed door frames. Clay pipes at Belle Haven Elementary School have had to be replaced on campus. Some classroom walls are so weak they can't hold up a whiteboard.

The overhaul of the campus includes three new classrooms in the kindergarten yard, including two new transitional kindergarten rooms and a new kindergarten room. There will also be two modernized kindergarten rooms.

Help sustain the local news you depend on.

Your contribution matters. Become a member today.

Join

If there is enough funding, the district is proposing to redo the field at the back of the school with a picnic and community recreation area, a new parking area over tennis court and a turf field.

The schematic design of Belle Haven Elementary School's new campus design. Courtesy Ravenswood City School District.

Eger noted that there is "very real" construction inflation right now.

"We've lost the ability to buy 10% of the stuff we thought we could buy when the bond passed," he said. "We obviously anticipated inflation. The faster we move, the more improvements we get to make, the further our money goes. ... Moving quickly allows us to get the most bang for our buck."

The need for upgrades at the school became even more apparent during the COVID-19 pandemic when it "revealed how impactful air quality and safe schools are to student learning," said Superintendent Gina Sudaria in a statement.

"Having healthy learning environments is essential to supporting our students' academic growth and recruiting excellent staff," she said.

Stay informed

Get the latest local news and information sent straight to your inbox.

Stay informed

Get the latest local news and information sent straight to your inbox.

Outgoing trustee Ana Maria Pulido said that the project "represents a decadeslong culmination in site planning and community engagement. This work began with the 2015 facilities master plan and has been updated through three separate bond campaigns. The overwhelming community support from those bonds has made this project possible."

The district's 2015 facilities master plan identified $300 million in facilities needs.

Last summer the district and city of Menlo Park launched a pilot program to open the field in the back of the school to the Belle Haven community. The new design builds on that effort by moving the school gym closer to the field, with a goal of making it easier for the broader community to access and use the site after school hours and on weekends.

The district is seeking feedback from the community on specific classroom features, the outdoor spaces and the layout of the field. Eger told the board that the district is going to be nailing down the design details of the next four to six months, answering questions like "how high are the windows going to be?" and "are there going to be blinds in the rooms?"

SVA Architects, which designed Cesar Chavez Ravenswood Middle School, is contracting with the district to complete the design for Belle Haven Elementary. The district is in the midst of construction on the middle school, which is set to wrap up at the end of 2023.

Construction is estimated to begin in 2024, according to a presentation to the board on Nov. 17.

The board will vote on the final design at a Dec. 8 meeting.

Visit for more information.

Watch a video of the meeting here:

The Nov. 17, 2022, Ravenswood City School District governing board meeting.

Angela Swartz
 
Angela Swartz joined The Almanac in 2018 and covers education and small towns. She has a background covering education, city politics and business. Read more >>

Follow AlmanacNews.com and The Almanac on Twitter @almanacnews, Facebook and on Instagram @almanacnews for breaking news, local events, photos, videos and more.

Your support is vital to us continuing to bring you education news. Become a member today.

Ravenswood school board approves initial design for $50 million renovation of Belle Haven Elementary

by / Almanac

Uploaded: Tue, Nov 29, 2022, 11:09 am

Belle Haven Elementary School will be the first campus to be renovated using money from a recently passed bond measure, after the Ravenswood City School District school board voted Nov. 17 to approve a $50 million budget and a schematic design for the project.

The plan, part of the $110 million Measure I bond that passed in June, includes renovating all instructional rooms at the school, located at 415 Ivy Drive in Menlo Park, and creating new early childhood classrooms and new spaces for students with special needs. It also includes seven new classrooms at the school, and relocates and expands the gym, moving it closer to the field entrance for easier community access, according to a district press release.

Trustee Bronwyn Alexander, who taught at Belle Haven Elementary for over a decade, said in a statement that the plan represents the largest campus improvement since the school was built in 1948 and is "desperately needed." She said she's thrilled to get rid of the vinyl curtains and be able to attract neighborhood kids to the school.

Earlier this year, Chief Business Officer William Eger said that district elementary schools still have uneven sidewalks and classrooms that haven't been updated since the 1950s, with some 20 to 30 years past their useful lives. Termites have destroyed door frames. Clay pipes at Belle Haven Elementary School have had to be replaced on campus. Some classroom walls are so weak they can't hold up a whiteboard.

The overhaul of the campus includes three new classrooms in the kindergarten yard, including two new transitional kindergarten rooms and a new kindergarten room. There will also be two modernized kindergarten rooms.

If there is enough funding, the district is proposing to redo the field at the back of the school with a picnic and community recreation area, a new parking area over tennis court and a turf field.

Eger noted that there is "very real" construction inflation right now.

"We've lost the ability to buy 10% of the stuff we thought we could buy when the bond passed," he said. "We obviously anticipated inflation. The faster we move, the more improvements we get to make, the further our money goes. ... Moving quickly allows us to get the most bang for our buck."

The need for upgrades at the school became even more apparent during the COVID-19 pandemic when it "revealed how impactful air quality and safe schools are to student learning," said Superintendent Gina Sudaria in a statement.

"Having healthy learning environments is essential to supporting our students' academic growth and recruiting excellent staff," she said.

Outgoing trustee Ana Maria Pulido said that the project "represents a decadeslong culmination in site planning and community engagement. This work began with the 2015 facilities master plan and has been updated through three separate bond campaigns. The overwhelming community support from those bonds has made this project possible."

The district's 2015 facilities master plan identified $300 million in facilities needs.

Last summer the district and city of Menlo Park launched a pilot program to open the field in the back of the school to the Belle Haven community. The new design builds on that effort by moving the school gym closer to the field, with a goal of making it easier for the broader community to access and use the site after school hours and on weekends.

The district is seeking feedback from the community on specific classroom features, the outdoor spaces and the layout of the field. Eger told the board that the district is going to be nailing down the design details of the next four to six months, answering questions like "how high are the windows going to be?" and "are there going to be blinds in the rooms?"

SVA Architects, which designed Cesar Chavez Ravenswood Middle School, is contracting with the district to complete the design for Belle Haven Elementary. The district is in the midst of construction on the middle school, which is set to wrap up at the end of 2023.

Construction is estimated to begin in 2024, according to a presentation to the board on Nov. 17.

The board will vote on the final design at a Dec. 8 meeting.

Visit for more information.

Watch a video of the meeting here:

Comments

There are no comments yet. Please share yours below.

Post a comment

In order to encourage respectful and thoughtful discussion, commenting on stories is available to those who are registered users. If you are already a registered user and the commenting form is not below, you need to log in. If you are not registered, you can do so here.

Please make sure your comments are truthful, on-topic and do not disrespect another poster. Don't be snarky or belittling. All postings are subject to our TERMS OF USE, and may be deleted if deemed inappropriate by our staff.

See our announcement about requiring registration for commenting.