SCUSD Celebrates Groundbreaking of Agnews K-12 Campus
By Robert Haugh
Inching closer to visions started decades ago, the Santa Clara Unified School District held a groundbreaking ceremony on Oct.26 at the site three future schools at the Agnews Campus on Zanker Road in North San Jose.
Hosted by SCUSD Superintendent Dr. Stanley Rose, highlights of the celebration included the “first dig” groundbreaking, ceremonial removal of a weathervane from atop one of the buildings and speeches from many involved in the long-standing commitment by SCUSD to build schools serving Northern San Jose and North Santa Clara.
Slated to feature state-of-the-art elementary, middle and high schools, the schools will tackled the ever-growing student population in the north part of Santa Clara Unified School District. According to Rose, the District expects 32,000 new housing units and 2,000-plus news students in the area over the next 10 years.
“Schools don’t get built in California every day. This a rare occurrence. To build three at once is truly amazing,” said Rose. “We will get through the bureaucratic red tape and build these schools, added Rose. Rose opened by thanking the decades of school, City and State leaders who helped pave the path for getting to this point.
“A lot of people worked hard to make this become a reality … The work doesn’t stop now,” said State Senator Bob Wieckowski. “We each play a part in seeing that our students, these future leaders of the Santa Clara Valley, become beneficiaries and they get everything that we have to offer here in the valley … This campus will be a model for other schools – it will feature cutting edge, top technology.” Wieckowski added that he will help the District encourage corporate partners [such as nearby Cisco Systems] to aid in making the campus one of the future.
In 2010, then a State Assembly member, Wieckowski authored Assembly Bill 503, which helped SCUSD obtain the property at less than the market price. The District and City of San Jose had been negotiating with the California Department of General Services for quite some time before AB-503 passed.
SCUSD Bond Director Larry Adams discussed the history of the 3500 Zanker Road site, talking about the rich agriculture, farming and Native American roots of the property. Adams also spoke about the many beauties of the site, such as ample natural lighting.
“This landscaping was conceived as part of the original vision of this campus,” said Adams. “What we see today, 90 years later, is part of the original vision of Dr. Leonard Stocking and the effect that he thought it would have on people living here. My hope is, in the days to come, as we design and develop our schools here, we are able to build on that vision. We hope that in 60, 70, 80 years from now, people will come back here and see something as grand as this and think what an amazing vision those people had.”
SCUSD Board of Trustees President Albert Gonzalez spoke about the partnerships it took to get to the momentous occasion. “It wasn’t always easy … there were bumps in the road … we built a great partnership with the City of San Jose … We also have to say a huge thank you to our SCUSD voters for approving two bonds to assist us in purchasing and building these schools.” Measure H in 2008 was enacted to help acquire the property, and coincidentally, Measure H in 2014 ($419 million) provided the funds to assist in building the schools.
“I have so much pride in what we are accomplishing – it is off-the-charts,” said longtime SCUSD Trustee Jim Canova , who serves Trustee Area 1 (Old Alviso Elementary) of North Santa Clara and North San Jose, was involved in the initial discussions about building schools in the area. “These schools coming together is no accident … This has been a long process … There has been so much work, and we are not done. We are going to strive to make these schools state-of-the-art 21st century schools – in the heart of Silicon Valley serving this ever-growing and expanding community.”
State Assembly member Kansen Chu, who was a San Jose City Council member when discussions started on Agnews being a school site, also spoke at the event. Chu was one of the leaders in establishing the 28-member North San Jose Task Force that met for 18 months, every week. “This property will a centerpiece for the North San Jose area.”
The City of San Jose will be building and maintaining a 21.6-acre park, the largest San Jose park built in over a century, on the property as well. The park, still under planning by City of San Jose, may include: soccer fields, a cricket field, basketball courts, tennis courts, playgrounds, picnic areas and shared facilities with SCUSD such as a gymnasium, pool, football field and track and baseball field. Visit https://sanjoseca.gov/CivicAlerts.aspx?AID=1355 and https://sanjoseca.gov/DocumentCenter/View/53190 for updates on the plans for the park site.
Other dignitaries attending included retired SCUSD superintendents Paul Perotti and Bobbie Plough, Santa Clara Mayor Lisa Gillmor, Santa Clara Vice Mayor Teresa O’Neill, Santa Clara Council members Kathy Watanabe and Debi Davis, SCUSD Trustees Andrew Ratermann, Michele Ryan and Jodi Muirhead, SCUSD Student Trustee Piper Olson, as well as several SCUSD Bond Oversight Committee Members and current and past SCUSD teachers, staff and administrators.
Santa Clara Unified School District serves over 15,000 students in a 56-square mile area that includes Santa Clara, Sunnyvale, San Jose, and Cupertino. Visit www.santaclarausd.org for more information on SCUSD.