Santa Monica Observer - Community, Diversity, Sustainability and other Overused Words

By Nikki Herron Kolhoff
Local Resident 

School Board Lies About Classroom Size. History Building Need Not Go "because it cannot accommodate modern classrooms"

Santa Monica deserves so much better than a School Board which Misrepresents to Approve a Project

 

Samohi History building, Circa 1965

Dear School Board -You all have repeatedly stated that the History Building must be torn down because it cannot accommodate modern classrooms shapes and sizes. This is a lie. After staff said they never studied adaptive reuse, the Information Item last week magically says you did that in the January meeting. Another lie.

Of course everyone but the school board, district staff, and the bond manager know that adaptive reuse of the History Building means gutting the interior and making whatever sized rooms we want. But the school board, staff and bond manager insist that the spaces created by current walls (which will be removed), aren't big enough for "21st Century learning." The District's memo from November 2020 states new facilities are needed "to teach current and future generations of students. Practically, the classrooms needed to be larger to support differing modalities of teaching and learning. To meet SMMUSD's educational goals, the Function Space Program determined that a standard classroom needs to expand to 1,100 – 1,200 square feet. In addition, classrooms need to be paired with small breakout spaces, commons, and accessible outdoor learning areas. Lab, Tech and Studio spaces should expand to 1,400 – 1,600 square feet." (See Photo 1.)

Well, in that case, guess what else can't accomplish modern learning?

1. The Innovation Building. We paid $93 MILLION for this building that opened in 2015 and was declared by the District to "represent a model of what 21st century classrooms and science labs should be." Turns out that the classrooms in the Innovation Building average 980 square feet. (See photo 2.) Did the District get it wrong, has education changed, or are you lying?

2. Many of the classrooms in the proposed Exploration Building are smaller than 1100 square feet and many of the labs are smaller than 1400 square feet. These include the following:

EXPLORATION CLASSROOMS < 1100 SQFT

Group x 2 (151 sqft)

Think Tank (156 sqft)

Control Room (408 sqft)

Photo Studio (408 sqft)

Sound Stage (602 sqft)

Dark Room (604 sqft)

Art Think Tank (634 sqft)

Photo Lab (990 sqft)

Multi-Media Studio (1007) sqft)

EXPLORATION LABS < 1400 SQFT

Minilab x 3 (402 sqft)

Applied Learning Lab Small x 3 (971 sqft)

Brainstorming and Design Lab (1017 sqft)

Applied Learning Research Workstation Small (1190 sqft)

Applied Learning Lab Medium (1314 sqft)

The art and media spaces could easily fit in half of the History Building as an Art wing, while the rest of the History and Art Buildings become an open-plan student center, library, cafe, outdoor learning/reading spaces, rooftop garden and rooftop classroom/deck. It is unclear why we need any of the larger undefined "lab" and "studio" spaces (there are only 9!) and, if we do, why these cannot be created by adapting the newly built classrooms and labs in the Innovation and Discovery Buildings, or the new spaces in the History Building, or in a renovated Business Building, or in replacement of the Language Building nobody wants.

Demolishing the History Building, and the memories of generations of Samohi students, alumni, and residents, to make room for the unnecessary Exploration Building is just wrong. Shame on you for your lack of vision, clinging to your vanity projects, and refusing to admit you have made a mistake.

New Career Building in a graphic released by SMMUSD.

Santa Monica deserves so much better than you.

Regards,

Nikki Kolhoff

 

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