The city of San Ramon, the San Ramon Valley Unified School District and Shapell Homes recently announced a partnership that designates land for a future park and elementary school in the Dougherty Valley. The school would be located on an 8.6-acre site one-half mile southwest of the Dougherty Station Community Center in an undeveloped area, next to a 30-acre park.
Shapell Homes will donate the land to SRVUSD, with the understanding that play fields will also serve as a permanent park for the city like other schools. There is no set development timeline for the project, which school district officials estimate will cost $31 million.
"This is a win for everyone," said San Ramon Mayor Bill Clarkson. "To develop more park space is a goal of our city. We also believe that this will help ease congestion in the community by pulling traffic away from other congested neighborhoods."
Officials expect the future elementary school to help alleviate the enrollment crunch at Dougherty Valley's four existing elementary schools, three of which house over 1,000 students in buildings meant for 900. Ultimately, the district hopes to reduce the number of families being diverted away from their neighborhood schools, as families from the Live Oak and Hidden Hills school areas have been.
Slowed down construction around Quail Run Elementary has allowed the district to divert students there, said SRDVUSD Community Relations Coordinator Terry Koehne. As home construction begins to pick up in the area, the more students will need to go to school.
The district had previously discussed jointly operating a multi-use facility with the city that could be used as an auxiliary school, but ultimately decided that a new elementary campus would be a better solution.
"We think this is in the best interest of the community, particularly as the homes in that area continue to be developed. As needs change, I suppose we will have to look at the existing facilities we have, the purposes they serve and adjust as the situation calls for," Koehne said, adding that the district has already modified buildings to accommodate growth.
Koehne added that the school district recognizes a need to expand Dougherty Valley High School, but said the most immediate need was for additional elementary space.
"This is clearly a benefit for the city, the developer, and most certainly for the school district and the families of the Dougherty Valley," said Board of Education President Greg Marvel. "While we still need to pass a facilities bond to build the school, having the land and some of the infrastructure provided will save the school district and taxpayers millions of dollars."
The cost of the new elementary school has already been figured into the facilities bond currently being discussed by the Board of Education. Although the board is still looking over recommendations from a citizen's oversight committee, Marvel estimates that the school could be built in a minimum of three years should the bond pass.
"It would come on board just when we need it, the projection is that we're going to continue to see growth out there," Marvel said. " The voters that we talked to out there in the Dougherty Valley indicated that they would be supportive of a bond if it meant that their elementary schools could be reduced in size. Some of those schools are projected to go as high as 1,400 (students)."
While the three parties have been meeting for nearly a year to discuss and review options and alternatives related to a joint use school and park site, only recently has this specific proposal for a new site in the Dougherty Valley taken shape. The various stakeholders will continue to work together on finalizing the terms of this partnership and spell out the details related to planning, implementation, funding and joint use of the park and school site.