SFUSD offers first look at planned Mission Bay elementary school

San Francisco school officials this month unveiled the design of a planned new elementary school in Mission Bay.

San Francisco school officials this month unveiled the design of a planned new elementary school in Mission Bay.

The growing neighborhood is expected to get a school near the Chase Center for roughly 500 pre-kindergarten to fifth graders with a learning hub and professional learning space onsite for students across The City by about 2025.

The new San Francisco Unified School District facility will be built on a parking lot between Owens and Sixth streets owned by the University of California San Francisco, which is transferring the land to the district.

Mission Bay has seen rapid development in housing, health care, jobs and entertainment.

“The community has been waiting for this school for many years,” said Supervisor Matt Haney, a former school board member who now represents the neighborhood. “It’s an area of our city where we’re seeing some of the biggest growth in children and families. What they’re missing is a school.”

The school will be San Francisco’s first new public one since 2006, when Dianne Feinstein Elementary School opened in Parkside, Haney noted. SFUSD, which has some 54,000 students, estimates that at least another 7,000 students will join the district by 2030.

Designs unveiled to the public Wednesday evening showed a building with orange and green panels topped with a rooftop play space and plenty of wide, open windows. The main entrance from Owens Street, where younger students will be dropped off, will have bicycle parking, while pedestrian access could have a mural like the one at Daniel Webster Elementary School.

The first floor will have pre-kindergarten and transitional kindergarten classrooms as well as the main office, what is called the “Heart” lobby, media library, multipurpose room and cafeteria, wellness center, STEM lab, and schoolyard. Kindergarten to second graders will be on the second floor and third to fifth graders on the third floor, with an upper play yard. The fourth and final floor will have a linked learning hub and professional learning meeting spaces.

“We wanted to create a campus that allowed for a lot of community engagement,” said Karissa Yee Findley, director of school portfolio planning on Wednesday. “SFUSD doesn’t have space specifically for professional learning and development, so we really think that’s a critical need.”

Staff is also considering ways to honor the Ohlone Tribe, who were San Francisco’s first residents.

Responses to the design fielded through a word cloud platform expressed excitement for outdoor and open spaces that allow for flexible learning. Audience members also liked that it was accessible to the broader community, but had questions around curriculum and project costs.

Voters in 2016 approved a bond that included $100 million to open new schools in Mission Bay and Bayview. But some of that money may be used to upgrade surrounding schools that are under-enrolled, Board President Mark Sanchez said.

SFUSD spokesperson Laura Dudnick said those bond funds could not be used for start-up costs, but did not say why. Ongoing costs for the new school are estimated to be $340,000 annually, but would ideally have $1 million annually, according to a staff presentation from September.

There may be another school bond in 2022 that would include more finances for new schools; another attempt to reform California’s property taxes and boost school district budgets is also needed, Sanchez added.

SFUSD is also launching an endowment with founding donor Alexandria Real Estate Equities.

The district will continue to field community responses and work to complete the title transfer with UCSF. It plans to select a design and construction team in 2021 to finish the job.

imojadad@sfexaminer.com

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