HAYWARD, Calif. — It appears Bret Harte Middle School will most likely be relocated to the Highland School campus adjacent to California State University, East Bay after district officials say they discovered the school’s current building was unlikely to survive another earthquake.
On Wednesday, Oct. 4, the Solutions Team Committee recommended that the Hayward Unified School District Board of Education relocate the middle school to the Highland campus over the other top contender, the Strobridge campus. Seana Condit-Gordon, principal of Bret Harte, said its proximity to the current Bret Harte community and a university make it an ideal location, even if it is on the smaller side.
Bret Harte Middle was constructed in 1952, 15 years before state legislation would require projects to investigate geological hazards before building a structure, Allan Garde, the district’s assistant superintendent of business, explained. While the school has survived all the earthquakes since 1952, its proximity to major hazards like the fault line puts it at risk of incurring significant damage.
Assessments done on the site by two architects determined that it would cost more to bring the building up to code than to build an entirely new school, Garde said. The solutions team was established to review the district’s surplus and underused sites to find an alternative. It came down to Highland and Strobridge.
Moving to the 5.11-acre Highland campus, which is across the street from Cal State East Bay, would require demolishing the current property and constructing a two-story main classroom building, along with other facilities. However, residents of the area said that the streets around the school cannot handle more traffic and the campus is too small to handle 600 students.
Since the 12.61-acre Strobridge site, which was also built in the 1950s, is much larger, the district would construct 2 one-story classroom buildings. District staff said that site also has traffic and congestion issues, as well as concerns about it being farther away from Bret Harte’s main feeder schools, East Avenue Elementary School, Stonebrae Elementary School and Fairview Elementary School.
A survey of almost 230 people found 80% agreed that the middle school needed to be relocated and 62.9% preferred Highland.
Regardless of which site was picked, Garde said the district will be assessing the impact of the relocation on traffic and congestion, as well as how to mitigate that traffic, among other things.
The board is expected to discuss the fate of Bret Harte Middle School at its Oct. 11 meeting at the district office at 24411 Amador St. in Hayward.
Sonia Waraich can be reached at 510-952-7455.