When Measure AA passed last November by a landslide, Milpitas elected officials spoke of bringing a second full-time public high school to Milpitas.
The second of three AA-related meetings occurred on April 24 at Milpitas High School’s (MHS) library. San Jose-based design firm LPA Design Studios presented potential expansions to parents, students, and other members of the community. Proposals considered everything from an expanded second gym to an expansion of the performing arts building.
The proposed renovations come as the Milpitas Unified School District (MUSD) prepares to open the promised second high school on the campus of Calaveras Hills Continuation High School, to help alleviate overcrowding issues at MHS.
“We’re looking to focus on improving everything from health and wellness, water and energy,” said Denise Flatley, a project manager at LPA.
LPA was chosen by the Milpitas Unified School District to carry out an extensive, multi-phase redesign of MHS, with the end goal of accommodating enough students for the new high school.
The meeting served as a brainstorming session of sorts, as many ideas were thrown around — everything from sustainable roofing to LED retrofitting to expanded learning facilities.
Although the meeting room was filled with adults — many of whom parent children who are still too young to be in high school — LPA had consulted with MHS students in a focus group earlier that day.
“A lot of them had similar needs,” said Flatley. “Most of them said there weren’t enough places for them to sit or do homework.”
But some parent attendees, including resident David Crum, who had a heightened interest in the wellbeing of MHS’s student athletes, found some of the proceedings a bit lacking:
“From these student focus group results,” Crum said, “I can tell there weren’t a lot of athletes consulted. Where are the athletes?”
“Is this representative of our students?” added another parent.
Official mockups for the revised high school include an expansion of the school’s second gym, known colloquially to staff and students as “the small gym”. An expansion of the small gym hopes to add seating space for sports competitions. Currently, only the larger on-campus gym is big enough for spectator sports. That means the volleyball, wrestling, badminton, and boys’ and girls’ basketball programs must share a building, which can often lead to scheduling headaches. The school’s portable buildings, located near Pomeroy Elementary School, will be removed. Central to the renovations would be a revamping of the campus’s outdoor amphitheater, a relocation and expansion of the school’s performing arts wing, and possible other outdoor upgrades to expand outdoor student seating.
Parents, however, seemed to want more from some of the designs.
“I feel like this isn’t going to solve the crowding problem,” said one parent. “How much useful space is there going to be?”
Eventually, the district is looking to open the aforementioned second high school on the campus of Calaveras Hills Continuation School, to hold approximately 400 students for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) curriculum. The above-cited proposals come after long-standing community complaints about overcrowding at Milpitas High School, which currently holds over 3,100 students — the third highest-attended high school in the Bay Area.
“We have some massive catching up to do at the high school, and our citizens want us to build a second high school campus,” wrote Daniel Bobay, President of MUSD, in a recent letter to the Beat.
LPA plans to take public comments — especially from students — during upcoming meetings in order to make their final decisions. In anticipation of the second campus, LPA has proposed moving around certain campus buildings.
The proposed renovations will mark the first major renovations since the opening of the “L” building in the early 2000s. The proposed new high school will be the first full-time public high school in Milpitas since Samuel Ayer High School closed in 1980 due to low enrollment numbers. The renovation is part of AA’s proposed $284 million upgrade to “facilities, equipment and technology” throughout the district as approved by voters in 2018. If all goes as planned, according to LPA, construction is set to begin within the next three years.
“We’re looking to the future,” said Flatley. “Everything [from] tech savvy opportunities, to arts places and security.”
LPA is looking to submit a plan for approval to the school board by May 14. The board will review the plan and submit a decision by May 28, according to LPA.