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Greening Meetings

Revised Draft Meeting

posted Oct 22, 2012, 9:51 PM by FSK Website

The primary meeting was held in the teacher lunchroom at 3:30 pm on Monday, October 22nd. The following people attended:

Tamar Barlev, SFUSD

Lori Shelton, SFUSD

Jeff Miller, Miller Company

Aaron Parr, Miller Company

Mr. Wong, FSK Principal

Ms. Ling, FSK Teacher

Ms. Sonny Wong, FSK Teacher

Ms. Tsukamoto, FSK Teacher

Eric May, FSK Parent, PTA Executive VP

John Cenzano-Fong, FSK Parent


The meeting focused on discussing which elements of the revised plan needed adjustments as well as assessing the prioritization of all elements from the proposal. The proposed design brought by Miller Company is posted up on the PTA board by the main office, though there are no electronic copies available to post on the web at this time.


Elements on the plan with dotted lines were originally conceived as alternates, which means they are additional bodies of work that could be considered for bid above and beyond the base plan if the base plan ends up receiving a bid below what is expected. All other elements were considered part of the base plan. An estimated budget was provided for the various elements of the plan, including the alternates.


Early in the discussion there was consensus that the alternate additional trees in the northern part of the yard against 42nd street should remain alternates. Also agreed early in discussions was that all storage areas should be relocated to the northern part of the yard near the computer lab exit. Details regarding where to locate the emergency supplies shed were discussed, since it is already on order and set to be installed in November. At present, the plan is to locate the emergency shed to the east of the northern yard entrance where a dumpster currently resides. The dumpster will be relocated to the west of the northern entrance. The existing storage containers will be located up against the school building with a slab need to support the shipping container. A taller fence was also mentioned as being needed to account for the placement of these storage units.


The trees in front of the modular entrances were kept in the same locations from previous plans but benches were shifted a more towards the track to try to mitigate possible noise. There was discussion that benches could possibly be built by the school community to help offset costs.


The alternate outdoor classroom near the girl's bathroom was deemed to be sufficiently important to become part of the base bid because a single outdoor classroom for the many classes in the school seemed insufficient. At the point this was agreed to, the affordability of doing this was still in question.


There was agreement that the raised bed garden by the play structure was appropriate and should be the focus of planting activity by classes. This revision of the plan had an expanded work area with a project counter and sink to facilitate harvesting and other tasks.


The area of the most back and forth discussion was the garden area to the west of the modulars. The cistern and rill were proposed as alternates and people agreed these weren't as high of priority as other elements. Mr. Wong was very concerned about security issues as well a sound from planting activities from this garden, though, as previously mentioned, there was consensus to relocate the storage away from this area. There was discussion of eliminating this garden area because of a lack of focus for the use of the garden and out of concern for noise and children entering the area at times when it was inappropriate.


After further discussion there was agreement that the primary focus of the garden would not be children involved in planting activities. The garden will function as more of a quiet area planted natives and a focus on activities such as a butterfly garden and as a place for science and drawing. Ultimately the idea of widening the planted area to span the distance between the modulars and the main school building was discussed and seemed to satisfy everyone. An ADA compliant path made either from decomposed granite or from remaining asphalt will cut through the middle to allow for easy flow from the south school entrance out to the yard. By creating a more immersive and less ambiguous space the issues of noise and incursions by children seems easier to manage. 


In order to achieve all of the desired plans the group looked for ways to cut costs. One way to achieve significant savings is for the school community to build the raised bed planters with a basic design that Miller Company can provide. Elimination of the fencing between the yard and the raised bed garden, designed primarily to help prevent stray balls from damaging plants also saves money. As an aside, after the meeting, Lori Shelton from SFUSD urged us to reconsider the fencing. Tamar Barlev, also from SFUSD, proposed to have the openings for the tree plantings to be made larger than originally planned to provide the option for concrete footings to be poured later for a future fence.


The last discussed was how to treat the two outdoor classroom spaces. Having a curved shape raises costs and doesn't allow for certain materials. There was a sentiment that there would be a benefit in building the two using different materials to distinguish them and to create variety and possibly save on cost. Building the outdoor classroom closer to the main building from concrete to retain the round shape was seen as appropriate, given it's location and the amount of people flowing through the area. The outdoor classroom near the play structure seemed the better candidate to change form. The use of cobb as a building material was discussed. Cobb can be constructed using recycled concrete pieces packed together and bound with a bonding agent, which is subsequently coated with a material. The end result is similar to adobe. It has a more organic and irregular shape and has a 7-10 year lifespan. The use of wood was also discussed. It was seen as preferable, if built with sufficiently sturdy pieces, because it could have a very long life. The wood requires more linear forms of a square, or perhaps hexagram form. People favored wood over cobb and the possibility of it being build by the community was discussed.


Aaron Parr from Miller Company will be in touch with John Cenzano-Fong regarding his understanding of the group's prioritization of project elements. Those will be conveyed to the group with feedback solicited.



A short subsequent meeting was held at 5:30 pm of the same day. Given the Giants game and presidential debate, the attendees from the previous meeting left before this one was held, with the exception of 3 people. Those in attendance for the 5:30 pm meeting were:


Ms. Ling, FSK Teacher

Melissa Washington, FSK Parent, PTA President

Lorraine Leber, FSK Parent

Heather Copling, FSK Parent

Eric May, FSK Parent, PTA Executive VP

John Cenzano-Fong, FSK Parent


The outcome of the 3:30 meeting was discussed with those in attendance and concerns were raised about the handling of the ground area around the raised beds. There was a worry that by only cutting openings for the raised beds but not providing additional drainage around the planters that plants will not effectively grow well over the long term. There were also concerns that there be electrical for both garden areas so that drip irrigation can be installed in the future to ensure trees be properly watered when school is not in session. Lorraine Leber will follow up with Miller Company to discuss.


There will be no subsequent meetings with Miller Company given almost all details were worked out. If it is deemed necessary, the garden committee can meet to discuss and outstanding issues to provide feedback to Miller Company.

First Draft Concepts Meeting

posted Oct 4, 2012, 12:12 AM by FSK Website

The meeting was held in the teacher lunch room at 3:30 pm on Monday, October 1st. The following people attended:
Tamar Barlev, SFUSD
Lori Shelton, SFUSD
Jeff Miller, Miller Company
Aaron Parr, Miller Company
Mr. Wong, FSK Principal
Ms. Ling, FSK Teacher
Ms. Sonny Wong, FSK Teacher
Ms. Mamie Wong, FSK Teacher
Ms. Lida Liu, FSK Teacher
Ms. Cindy Li, FSK Teacher
Melissa Washington, FSK Parent, PTA President
Eric May, FSK Parent, PTA Executive VP
John Cenzano-Fong, FSK Parent
Lorraine Leber, FSK Parent
Heather Copling, FSK Parent

The meeting focused on discussing two alternative conceptial plans. Both plan drawings are available in PDF format for download at the bottom of the greening committee page: Note that concepts are drawn to scale.

Both concepts include some elements, namely a set of 4 trees planted in front of the modulars in the space between the track edge and the concrete pad in front of the modulars. The trees are complimented with bench seating to encourage quiet interactions. Benches are situated so that students can face each other to talk or face out towards the yard. The expectation is this can also create a buffer between the yard and modulars for sound and play. Also in both plans, situated between the modulars and the girl's bathroom, but closer to the modulars, there is a circular seating area with a tree in the center and boulder seating around it. The intention is to offer a possible outdoor classroom setting. 

Concept 1's main difference is an education garden near on the west side of the modular building. The garden is fed by a cistern with a hand pump to provide irrigation. The aim of the garden would be more focused on edible plants. There is also a project table and sink to help with food preparation. In order to make space for this garden, the PE shipping container shed is relocated across the yard and nestled with other storage near the yard side exit of the computer lab. Adjacent to the play structure is an outdoor classroom area with curved bench seating area that forms a broken circle with the opening framed by two large boulders. This can function as an outdoor classroom and as another way to interact with nature through the boulders. A row of trees along the fence line extending from the outdoor classroom near the play structure to near the basketball court provide additional natural buffers as well as seating areas for people to interact. 

Concept 2's main difference is the situating, near the play structure, of a large raised bed garden framed by relocated benches. The bench area is also planted with vegetation to soften the boundary with the rest of the yard. Storage remains primarily as it is today. 

Discussions ensued about the merits of all elements of the plan. Mr. Wong had concerned about relocating storage in concept 1 though most people felt it would likely work. The next topic of discussion was regarding the viability of having planting and bench seating in front of the modulars. Ms. Liu was concerned about noise levels of these areas. Ms. Sonny, based on experience with a similar arrangement when attending elementary school in San Jose, confirmed the notion this can create a quiet area. 

The teaching garden area near the modulars was also a concern for Ms. Liu due to noise issues. Lafayette school has a similar area garden area and has worked well according to Miller Company. The area was also chosen because of it being a bit more sheltered while still having good sun exposure. People generally liked the teaching garden area. 

The boulder seating area near the girls bathroom well positioned but having the tree in the middle could lead to visibility issues for security cameras. Some also felt the tree could be an impediment if it was attempted to be used as an outdoor classroom. There was discussion of the usefulness of having more than one outdoor classroom area given the large number of classrooms in the school and demand by teachers for these sorts of areas. 

The raised bed garden near the play structure from concept 2 was liked though there was discussion about what it's use should be in constrast to the teaching garden adjacent to the modulars. There wasn't a clear concensus how it should be used vs. the teaching garden if both were adopted. Some mentioned it could be more focused on native plants and not on edibles and could be more free form and simply a refuge. Others thought if raised beds were utilized, each grade level could claim one and have the number of beds limited to the number of grades. Another thought was to have as many beds as possible so extra beds could also be claimed by afterschool programs. Miller Company believed there could be money to support both gardens. District representatives also suggested pulling up more asphalt may be a good idea since there are few opportunities to do that in the future. It was mentioned that the school can grow into the garden areas over time and that not everything needs to be planted immediately. 

The line of trees along the fence from concept 1 seemed to be liked by at least some participants. The topic of mingling bond money and non-bond money came up and district officials pointed out that things could be phased so that infrastructure is put in but tree cost doesn't necessarily need to come out of the bond budget. Friends of the Urban Forrest will be to puts in the trees and arrangements will be hammered out among involved parties around what, when and where to plan trees. 

Also mentioned were various curriculumn elements mentioned by teachers and ideas that could be incorporated into designs. Discussion notes are presented with a dash after idea: 

Add distance markings to track - could be done independent of greening

        deciduous trees to teach about the seasons - Species selection will be done later and involve Friends of the Urban Forrest
        have elements that engage all 5 senses - Garden plants and elements, such as boulders, should be able to enable this. 
    3rd Grade
        incorporate a sundial into the design - it was proposed that one of the outdoor classrooms could have this integrated
        sun, moon, starts science unit - the sundial could satisfy this
        structures of life - plants in the gardent could satisify this
        energy, light, and matter - There may be ways to incorporate elements to address these
        San Franciscan geology model with three layers of the franciscan complex [ greywacke (sandstone), chert, basalt ] - Miller Company liked the idea of trying to incorporate this into seating perhaps
    4th Grade
        rocks and minerals - there may be ways to embed stone samples into the garden
        California missions - perhaps an abstract map could be included 
        electricity and magnetism - perhaps embedding magnets to interact with
        environments plants, insects, fish - no water feature was ever planned for fish, but plants and insects are a certainty

The concensus that people liked elements of both concepts and that Miller Company should try to combine ideas from both. Incorporating teacher suggestions around curriculum is also expected to occur. 

Feedback was provided at the meeting that there were parents who would like to be involved in the process but were unable to when meetings were held during work hours. There was still a strong desire for teachers to have the opportunity for more feedback. In order to attempt to satisify both realms, two meetings will be held on the same day. Anyone from the committee and school staff can attend either or both meetings. 

    Monday, October 22, 3:30 pm - primarily aimed at teachers
    Monday, October 22, 5:30 pm - primarily aimed at parents

At the October 22 meetings Miller Company will provide a consolidated set of plans with feedback on how to combine elements from both conceptual plan 1 and plan 2. There will also be information on costs of various elements so choices based on budget can be made. 

Initial Meeting Minutes

posted Sep 15, 2012, 11:18 PM by FSK Website   [ updated Sep 15, 2012, 11:56 PM ]

The meeting was held in the teacher lunch room at 2 pm on Thursday, September 13. The following people attended:
Tamar Barlev, SFUSD
Lori Shelton, SFUSD
Jeff Miller, Miller Company
Aaron Parr, Miller Company
Mr. Wong, FSK Principal
Ms. Ling, FSK Teacher
Eric May, FSK Parent
John Cenzano-Fong, FSK Parent

The focus of discussion revolved around reconciling how the original master plan showed construction elements vs. how they were actually carried out. The greatest impact was how the running track was actually painted on the yard. The way it was actually painted was something Mr. Wong agreed to because the alternative was to not have a track painted. Painters were unable or unwilling to paint a non-oval track.

The track encroaches into corners of the yard more than originally planned in the teaching garden area, near the cafeteria, and imaginative play area, near the play structure. In addition, in the plan, the area outside the cafeteria did not include a third door or the flag pole. These items reduce the usable space for the teaching garden.

There was time spent talking about whether the track should be rerouted near the imaginative play area and whether the track should actually cut through the garden area. The consensus was that redoing the track would be problematic because it could result too many turns for smooth running pace for children and in losing elements like the world map. It was also agreed that having the track pass through part of the garden area was not a good idea because of a mismatch of uses and possible collision issues. The track will be an area of kintetic movement while the garden will be a calm refuge. Intersecting the two seemed counterproductive.

There was discussion of siting of emergency supplies storage and PE and recess equipment storage. No decisions were made and would likely not have an impact on recommendations made by Miller Company.

The group spent time down in the yard looking at areas where the master plan placed greening elements. It was agreed that though the imaginative play area was smaller than was originally intended, if we did not cross over the track, it was still large enough.

There was discussion of the pluses and minuses of placing a teaching garden in front of the modulars. The leading issue was noise that could impact classrooms. But adding plantings to simply soften the area was considered.

The area adjacent to the modulars and the girls bathroom was discussed as a place for an outdoor classroom with seating to accommodate at least one class. Having raised planters or containers near the girls bathroom was also mentioned. The area between the school building and the modular was very appealing to Miller Company. The modular roof could be used to capture rainwater for cisterns stored behind the modulars. Time was also spent near the cafeteria discussing how we could implement a teaching garden despite limitations of the additional door and flagpole.

It was understood that there are many people on the committee that would like to be involved, but the schedule of subsequent meetings was established with a bias to a time of day that would encourage more teachers to participate, since they will be the main users of these spaces and have to live with choices made.

    Monday, October 1, 3:30 pm
    Monday, October 22, 4:00 pm

At the October 1 meeting Miller Company will provide a set of plans with their to initial suggestions in order to drive more discussion.

Initial Kickoff Agenda

posted Sep 14, 2012, 12:17 AM by FSK Website   [ updated Sep 14, 2012, 12:25 AM ]

The following meeting agenda was furnished by Miller Company Landscape Architects:

Meeting September 13th, 2pm

  • Introductions
  • Review of Master Plan
  • Discussion of ideas and priorities, which emerged from the master planning process:
  1. Infrastructure for the Nature Play Zone
  2. Infrastructure for the Teaching Garden
  3. Amphitheater
  • Discussion of our process
  • More discussion
  • Schedule for next meeting
  • Conclude

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