IUSD Opens Portola High School and Beacon Park K-8


As IUSD kicked off the 2016-17 school year on August 24, it opened two new schools; Portola High School, the District’s fifth comprehensive high school, and Beacon Park K-8.  Serving the Great Park Neighborhoods and parts of north Irvine, both schools are state-of-the-art educational facilities designed to foster collaboration, innovation and integration of technology to ensure students are prepared for 21st Century college and career opportunities.

Common features between Portola High School and Beacon Park include:

  • Design Labs – These spaces become easily accessible extensions of classrooms to facilitate small or large group learning and project-based learning.  They also provide students with collaboration skills they will need to be college and career ready.
  • Dedicated Music Classrooms – Such dedicated spaces improve music instruction and student learning with better acoustics and less time to transition from a general use space.
  • Innovation Labs – These labs are designed to foster flexible learning and technology spaces for a variety of projects and various group work.  They create a robust environment for students to learn, collaborate, innovate and brainstorm.
  • Flexible Furniture – Each school site is equipped with flexible furniture, throughout each campus, to foster student-centered learning. This flexibility enables teachers and students to reconfigure their space for large or small group instruction and collaboration.

Both schools have been designed to meet criteria developed by the Collaborative for High Performance Schools, which helps establish campuses that are healthy, comfortable, energy efficient and aligned with modern teaching and learning as reflected by IUSD’s Continuous Improvement Efforts.  In addition, many of the features at both schools are designed to mirror innovation and design lab features at such universities as Stanford and UCI.  As IUSD also continues to strengthen our relationships with the business community to ensure our students are prepared for 21st Century careers, we have developed the flexible student-centered spaces to be reflective of innovative workplaces.

Below is a list of features by school site.

IMG_9490Portola High School
This year, Portola High School welcomed approximately 400 freshmen and will add additional classes each year, resulting in a full 9-12 comprehensive high school by 2019-20.  The school is designed to support up to approximately 2,400 students.  In addition to a dedicated team of high-caliber educators, this state-of-the-art facility offers the latest educational technologies and a variety of amenities, including:

  • 21st-Century classrooms with common areas for collaborative learning
  • Dedicated science labs and visual and performing arts classrooms
  • A student union featuring collaborative learning environment, a library with dedicated quiet rooms and an Innovation Lab
  • Design lab for students’“Senior Passion Project” development
  • An elective building that will house a video production studio, 2D and 3D art, acoustically designed music rooms and more
  • A performing arts building with a 720-seat theater, black box and dance studio
  • A special education facility to facilitate essential life skills
  • A green roof that will enable hands-on, sustainable learning
  • A 2,940 seat stadium with rubberized track and artificial turf
  • An aquatics center with a 50-meter pool
  • A 2,044 seat gymnasium that includes training facilities and dedicated team rooms
  • Eight tennis courts
  • Varsity and JV baseball and softball fields
  • Track and field facilities
  • Two full soccer fields

To learn more about Portola High School, visit iusd.org/phs.  Additional resources include:

IMG_9513

To view a video of the first day at Portola High School, click here.

Beacon Park K-8
Beacon Park will accommodate approximately 1,000 students at capacity.  Similar to Portola High School, this state-of-the-art campus will also include the latest educational technologies and a variety of amenities including:

  • Student collaboration spaces across all grade levels
  • Dedicated music classrooms
  • Dedicated science classrooms in grades 6-8
  • Innovation Lab
  • Design Lab
  • Parent Center
  • Full-Court Gymnasium
  • Dedicated kindergarten play area
  • Large outdoor play field
  • Hard court activities including handball and tetherball equipment
  • Dedicated fitness lab for students in grades 6-8– Mirrors athletic spaces found at the high school level.

 To learn more about Beacon Park, visit iusd.org/bp

IUSD is pleased to welcome back to school all of our more than 32,000 students and their families and we hope those attending our new schools feel at home as they settle in for a great year ahead.


Portola High School Welcome Message from Principal Pehrson


Dear Portola High School Community,

We are excited to open our doors for the first class at Portola High School on August 24, 2016.  This historic graduating class of 2020 will be the beneficiaries of more than five years of expert vision, design and construction on our 42-acre campus, which is adjacent to the Great Park.  While we are opening with only freshmen in the 2016-2017 school year, we will add an additional class each year resulting in a full 9-12 comprehensive high school by the 2019-2020 school year.

Portola High School will offer the same opportunities for ninth graders as those offered at any other high school within the Irvine Unified School District.  These opportunities include a rigorous and relevant curriculum, a visual and performing arts program, an athletics program with a complete offering of freshman level teams, and a robust activities program.

Portola High School was designed in partnership with the best experts in the industry.  The planning involved numerous stakeholders throughout this multi-year process, resulting in a state-of-the-art 21st century facility complete with a performing arts complex, centered around a 700 seat theater, an aquatics complex including an Olympic-sized pool, an indoor gym (with three full sized courts) that is able to seat 2,000 guests, a 3,500 seat athletic stadium, a student union, and a learning commons designed to spark innovation.  The school also contains several dedicated student and teacher collaboration meeting rooms.  Finally, a fully equipped innovation lab (also known as a “Maker Space”) is located off the Student Union near a design room which will be used for a variety of purposes but most importantly, it will provide a space for our learners to create and develop their “Senior Passion Projects.”

Technologically, Portola High School boasts a WIFI system capable of up to five devices per person at full capacity.  As we move closer to a paperless system, our learners and instructors will use the latest software to manage and facilitate learning.  Furniture is flexible and stackable throughout the campus, allowing each space to convert readily from one learner-centered arrangement to another.

There is no doubt that the school site and all its amenities are beyond incredible.  That being said, what really elevates Portola High School is the quality of the staff that has been assembled.  The leadership team has been in place for more than a year prior to our opening.  Notable support from the District has afforded us time for the research and mind-work necessary to put structures and protocols in place that form the foundation of this unique and innovative 21st century school.

Our vision is that Portola High School will be a place where every learner belongs, contributes, and thrives.  We purposefully use the word “learner” to include not only students but adults, as well.  In this rapidly changing world, we all need to be continually growing, taking risks, and experimenting with new knowledge and skills.  From this vision, came our mission and our Bulldog PRIDE (Perseverance, Respect, Integrity, Drive, Empathy) motto, which describes the characteristics we want each of our students to demonstrate on a daily basis.

The core of our work and what we are about as educators are what we call our “learning outcomes.”  Our efforts each day are driven by our commitment to help each learner become capable, creators, communicators and contributors.  Each of these learning outcomes are defined by a set of 21st Century skills that will be specifically addressed across the curriculum and through our advisement program.

The Portola High School bell schedule is unique in that it is a mixture of an eight-period alternating block schedule with one day per week in which all periods meet for an abbreviated time.  The Portola Leadership team decided that it was in our learners’ best interest that instructors teach six classes rather than five in an effort to minimize class size.  Rather than the typical class size of 38-40, Portola will run classes at an average of 32 students per class.

Within the bell schedule, we have established designated time for teacher collaboration (professional development and staff meetings included), Office Hours (a time for students to receive extra support two times per week), and Advisement (a time for each teacher to meet with 25 students twice a week in a non-academic yet structured setting).  The schedule has been purposefully designed to give students flexibility and options in selecting their courses, as well as fewer classes each school night to focus on for study.

When Portola High School students are in their fourth year, they will participate in what we call the “Senior Passion Project.”  This course, designed across disciplines, will support the students throughout a four-year process, from grade nine to grade twelve, so that, by the time they enter their senior year, they will be ready to address one problem or issue of personal interest and relevance, to research a possible approach or solution, and to create a product or model which they will present to a panel of experts from the community—whether academic, artistic or entrepreneurial.

Needless to say, we are excited beyond what words can describe.  Our staff has fully embraced the concepts of intellectual risk-taking, learning through failure, continuous improvement, and Portola PRIDE.  We eagerly await what 2016-2017 has in store for us and the students we serve, and we very much look forward to your partnership with us.

Serving with PRIDE,

John Pehrson, Principal
Go Bulldogs!


Portola High School Affirmed Safe by Top State Environmental Agency


Dear IUSD Community,

I am pleased to inform you that the Portola High School site has been affirmed safe by the California Department of Toxic Substance Control (DTSC).  Today, DTSC provided the District with the environmental site approval, also known as a “No Further Action” notice.  This designation affirms the site is environmentally safe for students, families, staff and the community, and supports the 2014 and 2015 environmental site approvals previously granted by the DTSC.  To read the final report, click here.

During this third series of testing, 17 additional locations were selected throughout the school site by DTSC with more than 100 tests conducted at two depths of five and 15 feet, which is the industry standard.  To date, more than 300 tests have been conducted at more than 100 locations site-wide.  Below is a map with the comprehensive test locations and information.

IUSD expected the final report at the end of April; however, during a March 22 Special Board Meeting, after hearing feedback from the public, the Board of Education requested that DTSC identify additional test locations beyond the eight the state agency initially selected.  The additional locations expanded the timeframe and the time needed for DTSC to review the data and make its own independent determination.

As explained by DTSC Division Chief Dot Lofstrom during the March 22 Special Board Meeting, there are three potential “outcomes” of the confirmation soil sampling.  She explained that “Outcome Two” is the current status of the site and that if the testing supports this status, no further action will be required of IUSD.  Chief Lofstrom stated:

Outcome One

“One outcome is that all samples come back non-detect.  That means that no contaminants were discovered above the capabilities of our laboratory instruments to detect them.  In that case, the concerns described by me tonight would have been met by the District and no further action will be requested of the School District.”

Outcome Two

“A second outcome might be that contaminants are discovered but at very low concentrations.  So low as to constitute no health risk to occupants of the school.  That’s the current status of the site – our current conceptual model that there are very low concentrations of some contaminants – scattered areas underground.  These contaminants that do exist are sometimes as low as 600 times below the health concentrations, so I’m talking very low concentrations.

A few scattered concentrations of low level contaminants would confirm the current conceptual site model that there is no risk to future occupants of the school.  Very low levels of contaminants in the soil do not trigger cleanup requirements, because walking or running on a field, playing on the ground, or sitting inside rooms with concrete floors and walls do not result in any exposures that are a health concern.

In this case again, the concerns of DTSC would have been met and no further action will be requested of the School District.”

Outcome Three

“There is a third outcome, that is contaminants are present and at sufficiently high concentrations to have possible health impacts.  In that case, additional investigation will be required of the District.”

To view a video of Chief Lofstrom’s presentation during the March 22 public meeting, click here.

Chief Lofstrom and DTSC Geologist Dan Gallagher will join IUSD staff for a presentation to the Board of Education Tuesday, May 24 at 6:30 p.m. at the District Office.  The public is invited.  If you are unable to attend in person, you may view the meeting live on Cox channel 39 and AT&T U-verse channel 99.

For more information about the Portola High School site, including a comprehensive site history and District communications, please visit iusd.org/portolaconstruction.  See the following links for recent IUSD communications about the school site.

Portola High School Testing Update – May 11, 2016
Portola High School Update – April 29, 2016
IUSD Board Held 17th Public Meeting to Ensure Highest Standards for Portola High – March 25, 2016
Portola High School Meeting Reminder and Procedures – March 21, 2016
Portola High School Update and Public Meeting Notice – March 17, 2016
Portola High School Update from Terry Walker – March 4, 2016

Thank you for your support and engagement throughout this independent and rigorous process to ensure the Portola High School site is safe for our students, staff, families and community.  We look forward to welcoming the inaugural Portola High School freshman class this August and we share in the community’s excitement about this state-of-the-art educational facility that will be home to generations of Irvine students.

Sincerely,

Terry L. Walker
Superintendent of Schools, Irvine Unified School District

Terry-Sig-Straight

 

 

 

 

newPHSmap


Portola High School Site Testing Update


In Superintendent Terry Walker’s last communication to the IUSD community about the Portola High School site, he shared that test results and data will be made available to the public and all interested parties in mid-to-late May.  As part of IUSD’s ongoing commitment to transparency, the following is an update about the testing and lab results.  While the District is waiting for the final report to be completed, it appears this third series of tests confirms the 2014 and 2015 site approvals granted by the California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC).

However, the District will not know conclusively, until the DTSC has reviewed the data and made its own determination.  We anticipate this information in the coming weeks and will communicate with the community at that time.

Below are three potential “outcomes” of the confirmation soil sampling as detailed on March 22 by DTSC Division Chief Dot Lofstrom during a Special Board Meeting.  She explained that “Outcome Two” is the current status of the site and that if the testing supports the current status, no further action would be required of IUSD.  She stated:

Outcome One

“One outcome is that all samples come back non-detect.  That means that no contaminants were discovered above the capabilities of our laboratory instruments to detect them.  In that case, the concerns described by me tonight would have been met by the District and no further action will be requested of the School District.”

Outcome Two

“A second outcome might be that contaminants are discovered but at very low concentrations.  So low as to constitute no health risk to occupants of the school.  That’s the current status of the site – our current conceptual model that there are very low concentrations of some contaminants – scattered areas underground.  These contaminants that do exist are sometimes as low as 600 times below the health concentrations, so I’m talking very low concentrations.

A few scattered concentrations of low level contaminants would confirm the current conceptual site model that there is no risk to future occupants of the school.  Very low levels of contaminants in the soil do not trigger cleanup requirements, because walking or running on a field, playing on the ground, or sitting inside rooms with concrete floors and walls do not result in any exposures that are a health concern.

In this case again, the concerns of DTSC would have been met and no further action will be requested of the School District.”

Outcome Three

“There is a third outcome that is contaminants are present and at sufficiently high concentrations to have possible health impacts.  In that case, additional investigation will be required of the District.”

To view a video of Chief Lofstrom’s presentation during the March 22 public meeting, click here.

IUSD is cautiously optimistic that DTSC will concur that the site meets “Outcome Two” and this will provide the public with confidence that all standards, protocols and procedures set by the DTSC have been met by IUSD to ensure the site’s safety.

Once completed, the final report, including the raw data, will be posted on iusd.org/portolaconstruction.  In the meantime, please visit the Portola webpage for a history of the site, site approvals, resources and correspondence.


Portola High School Update


Dear IUSD Community,

As part of the District’s commitment to providing you with ongoing information about the Portola High School site, the following is an update on the status of recent confirmation soil sampling.

On March 22, the District held a special Board Meeting to present information about the school site and to receive public comments about the California Department of Toxic Substances Control’s (DTSC) plan for additional soil sampling of the site.  This was the 17th public meeting, since 2013, in which the Portola High School site has been discussed.  During the meeting, DTSC and District staff informed attendees that 10 locations throughout the site had been identified to conduct confirmation soil samplings that were intended to reaffirm the state agency’s initial approvals of the site.  DTSC Geologist Dan Gallagher stated, “In my professional opinion, 10 samples at two depths…should be sufficient to clear this site.” However, upon hearing public input, the Board of Education requested DTSC identify additional locations beyond the initial 10.

In the weeks following the meeting, DTSC Division Chief Dot Lofstrom and DTSC Geologist Gallagher, under DTSC Director Barbara Lee’s oversight, have worked in collaboration with IUSD to identify seven more soil sample locations, beyond the initial 10, for a total of 17 locations.  This is in addition to the 27 soil gas locations with 136 tests and the 68 soil sample locations with 105 tests that had been previously conducted throughout the school site.  Overall, the site will now have 112 test locations with more than 300 tests conducted site-wide.  As acknowledged by Chief Lofstrom during the March 22 meeting, the Portola High School site has had more scrutiny and testing than any other site on the former El Toro Marine Base, because DTSC “tends to be particularly protective of schools.”

The independent confirmation sampling process is being conducted under the oversight of DTSC, including Chief Lofstrom and Geologist Gallagher.  The process has included the following organizations and steps:

  • Drilling and setting of the soil gas probes is being conducted by Interphase Environmental, Inc.
  • An onsite California professional registered geologist with PlaceWorks (IUSD consultant), inspects the soil and collects the soil samples.
  • Jones Environmental, Inc. conducts the onsite analysis of soil gas samples in mobile laboratories.
  • Soil samples are sent to A&R Laboratories to test for the presence and levels of petroleum hydrocarbons.

In collaboration with DTSC, District consultant PlaceWorks, will develop the final report.  Upon completion of the report in mid-to-late May, IUSD will make this information available to the public and all interested parties, including the raw data.

I look forward to communicating with you next month to share the test results and next steps, if any.

For more information about the Portola High School site, including a comprehensive site history and District communications, please visit iusd.org/portolaconstruction.  See the following links for recent IUSD communications about the school site.

Thank you for your support and engagement, which helps IUSD better serve our students.

Sincerely,
T-Walker2-smooth-sm

 

 

Terry L. Walker
Superintendent of Schools, Irvine Unified School District


IUSD Board Held 17th Public Meeting to Ensure Highest Standards for Portola High


phsThe Irvine Unified School District (IUSD) Board of Education held the 17th public meeting, since 2013, in which the Portola High School site was discussed and the public had opportunity to
comment.  During the more than four-hour meeting on Tuesday evening, the Board heard presentations from the California Department of Toxic Substance Control (DTSC), and IUSD staff and experts about the history of the school site and its safety.  The presentations were followed by public testimony from the capacity audience.

DTSC Presentation: Extensive Testing and Approvals of the Portola High School Site

DTSC Division Chief Dot Lofstrom began the evening’s presentations.  She reviewed the federal, state and local processes required to ensure a site is safe before a school can be built and the stringent standards IUSD followed.  She stated, “To this day, the District has worked closely and collaboratively with the DTSC to ensure the high standards for environmental safety were met.”  She went on to address DTSC’s April 2014 approval of the school site, which documented the site was safe and was a “green light” for IUSD to begin construction of Portola High School.  Chief Lofstrom clarified the purpose of the additional confirmation sampling is to reaffirm DTSC’s 2014 approval of the school site.  She reported DTSC had determined 10 additional sample locations, with 18 tests in total, were “sufficient to meet DTSC’s interests” and that DTSC selected the locations of the samples.

Some members of the audience asked DTSC for more soil sample locations, in addition to the more than 200 tests that have already been conducted throughout the site.  Independent DTSC Geologist Dan Gallagher explained that the site did not warrant more sample locations beyond the 10 locations identified by DTSC.  He said, “In my professional opinion, 10 samples at two depths…should be sufficient to clear this site.”  Chief Lofstrom then stated that IUSD does not need to identify more than the 10 sample locations determined by DTSC but appreciated the District’s interest in incorporating the public’s input to ensure confidence in the school site.

Chief Lofstrom acknowledged that the Portola High School site has had more scrutiny and testing than any other site on the former El Toro Marine Base, because DTSC “tends to be particularly protective of schools.”  She also told the audience that IUSD has acted with an abundance of caution at every step of the project.  As an example, she cited IUSD’s handling of small amounts of stained soil found on the edge of the property, which was deemed nonhazardous by two independent test labs and DTSC.  She reported that the agency did not require IUSD to remove the soil but the District removed it anyway.

DTSC Workplan

After expressing that it has every confidence in the work done to date by DTSC and IUSD staff and experts, the Board requested the state agency to modify its workplan to include additional testing locations beyond the 10 it had already selected.  On behalf of the Board, Superintendent Walker acknowledged that this is DTSC’s process and workplan but requested the agency to consider input from the public, staff, experts and the Board to ensure all parties have 100 percent confidence in the additional confirmation soil samples.

As part of the updated workplan, DTSC will determine the number of samples collected and the exact sample locations. DTSC committed to an efficient sampling and review process to prevent disruption to the timeline for opening the high school.  The updated draft workplan was submitted Wednesday.  Upon DTSC final approval of the workplan, the agency will report its decision on the number of locations and tests.  Subsequently, the additional sampling will begin.

Superintendent Walker reiterated the District’s interest and point of view regarding the additional confirmation sampling, “It’s an opportunity to reaffirm the original approval under a highly conservative approach, which is what the Board had asked for originally.  It’s the gold standard.”  He continued, “We’ll go through this process and act accordingly, in direct connection with the experts guiding us.”

Next Steps

Chief Lofstrom stated that she believes the test results will be similar to the more than 200 tests already conducted, which led the DTSC to determine the Portola High School site is safe in 2014.  She indicated the samples will most likely “confirm the current conceptual site model that there is no risk to future occupants of the school.”

DTSC’s report on the confirmation sample results is scheduled for April 22.  IUSD is prepared and will act in accordance with DTSC direction.

The public meeting concluded with the Board reiterating its commitment to the safety of students, staff and the community.  They also thanked the audience for their participation and expressed their appreciation for the hard work IUSD staff and experts have put into this project over the last four years to ensure the site is safe.

News Coverage
To read the Orange County Register’s coverage of the meeting, click here.

IUSD Staff Presentation
Click here for a copy of the IUSD staff presentation, which includes the following information:

  • The history and chronology of the school site, located on the former El Toro Marine Base.
  • The rigorous and mandated process federal, state and local agencies must follow to ensure the site is safe for a school. Requirements for building a school are more stringent than residential or commercial developments.
  • The more than 200 tests performed throughout the school site under DTSC oversight.
  • Approvals received from the California Department of Education and DTSC before IUSD could begin building the school.
  • An outline for a proposed draft workplan developed by DTSC and the District for confirmation soil and soil gas samples to reaffirm the safety of the site.

Meeting Videos
Opening Presentation by Superintendent Walker

Presentation by DTSC Division Chief Dot Lofstrom

IUSD Staff and Expert Presentation

Comments from Portola High School Principal John Pehrson

Board of Education Comments

The March 22, 2016 Board Meeting in its Entirety

IUSD Communications
Comprehensive Portola High School Information Page

 IUSD Fact Check: Portola High School Site

Portola High School Meeting Reminder and Procedures (March 21, 2016)

Portola High School Update and Public Meeting Notice (March 17, 2016)

Portola High School Update from Terry Walker (March 4, 2016)


Portola High School Meeting Reminder and Procedures


Dear IUSD Community,

Rendering of Portola High School Student Union

Rendering of Portola High School Student Union

This is a reminder that tomorrow evening, March 22, at 7 p.m., IUSD will hold a public meeting at the District Office (5050 Barranca Parkway, Irvine) about the Portola High School site. Because this is a Board of Education Meeting, the District is bound by Board policies and practices.  The following information is to help you understand the meeting format, should you wish to attend.

The meeting will begin at 7 p.m. with Board Member roll call and the Pledge of Allegiance.  We then will move immediately to the only business item, “Department of Toxic Substance Control (DTSC) Draft Workplan for Additional Confirmational Testing at Portola High School.”   This business item will begin with an IUSD staff presentation and a presentation by the DTSC, followed by public comments.  Each Board Member also will speak and have the opportunity to ask clarifying questions of IUSD staff and DTSC representatives.

The public comment period is the opportunity for meeting attendees to address the Board.  To ensure fairness and that all members of the public have equal time to speak, the public comments will be three minutes per person.  The Board cannot give any one member of the public preferential treatment or more time than others.  However, if you feel your comments or the information you would like to share with the Board will require more than three minutes, please feel free to bring copies of that information to give to the Board and to DTSC representatives.

Persons wishing to address the Board should complete a blue “Request to Address the Board” form, available on the information table, and submit it to the Board Secretary.  IUSD staff will be available to assist members of the public.

In keeping with the District’s commitment to transparency and to keep you informed, I will provide a brief update after the meeting with next steps.

For those who cannot attend the meeting, it will be broadcast live on Cox Channel 39 and AT&T U-verse Channel 99.  The District also will post the video of the meeting online by Thursday, March 24 for on-demand playback.

Thank you for your engagement and interest in our students and schools.  The safety of our students, staff and the community is the District’s priority and we look forward to going through this process to reaffirm the safety of the Portola High School site, which will open this August.

For more information about the school site, including a comprehensive site history and District communications, please visit iusd.org/portolaconstruction.  To view the meeting agenda and the draft workplan, click here.

Sincerely,

T-Walker2-smooth-sm

 

 

Terry L. Walker
Superintendent of Schools, Irvine Unified School District

 


Portola High School Update and Public Meeting Notice


Dear IUSD Community,

In the two weeks since my last communication with you about the Portola High School site, IUSD has been working closely with officials from the California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC), regarding
their request to collect additional soil samples to reaffirm the safety of the site.  On March 8, DTSC Division Chief Dot Lofstrom and her team met with IUSD staff at the school site to determine where the additional samples will be taken and to develop a draft workplan.

Rendering of Portola High School Student Union

Rendering of Portola High School Student Union

District staff will present the draft workplan to the IUSD Board of Education during a public meeting on Tuesday, March 22 at 7 p.m. at the District Office (5050 Barranca Parkway, Irvine).  A representative from DTSC will be available to answer questions.  The community is invited to attend and to provide public comments.  For those who cannot attend the meeting, it will be broadcast live on Cox channel 39 and AT&T U-verse channel 99.

IUSD’s efforts remain focused on the safety of our community, while continuing to ensure that our process is as transparent as possible.  We have provided a comprehensive webpage iusd.org/portolaconstruction that provides detailed information about the school site.

In addition, the District has developed a “Fact Check: Portola High School” document, which has the most factual and up-to-date information about the Portola High School site, including the more than 200 tests performed and clarification about the additional confirmation sampling.  Please take a moment to review this document.

As we prepare to open Portola High School this August, we join the community in its excitement about Irvine’s newest comprehensive high school that will serve generations of Irvine students and their families for years to come.  We look forward to reaffirming the safety of the school site and moving forward with this world class facility.

Thank you for your engagement and support of our students and schools, which enables IUSD to best serve our students.

Sincerely,

T-Walker2-smooth-sm

 

 

 

Terry L. Walker
Superintendent of Schools, Irvine Unified School District


Portola High School Update from Terry Walker


Portola High SchoolDear IUSD Community,

This August, IUSD will open Portola High School, Irvine’s fifth comprehensive high school.  While there is considerable excitement about the opening of our new school, there continues to be misleading information disseminated in the community about the school site, which is on the former El Toro Marine Base.  I would like to take this opportunity to share information with you about IUSD’s actions to ensure the safety of the site.

Throughout the multi-year process, IUSD has worked with all necessary agencies and experts to vet and ensure the safety of the site.  In analyzing and determining the best location for Portola High School, IUSD’s process, procedures and findings have been based on the scientific studies, tested principles and protocols of such agencies as the California Department of Education, the California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC), the California Department of Public Health, the Department of the Navy, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.  This well-documented and comprehensive process has been provided on our website, presented in Board Meetings, shared with the City Council, discussed at public events and with an array of diverse stakeholders such as the PTA, the Irvine Public Schools Foundation and community supporters.

Further, in 2014, the DTSC and the California Department of Education determined that the Portola High School site met the required state approvals for the development of the high school and gave IUSD the “green light” to move forward with the school’s construction.  As the lead environmental agency on this project, the DTSC has been responsible for providing oversight of the required testing and for analyzing the results.  Throughout this process, the DTSC has confirmed the safety and suitability of the site.

To date, the District has conducted more than 200 tests throughout the school site.  Based on the results, the DTSC documented there is no threat to public health or the environment.  As part of this continued oversight, the DTSC has now asked IUSD to collect additional “confirmational” samples to reaffirm the safety of the site.  IUSD will begin this process immediately and will analyze additional soil samples.  The District will continue to fully comply with the DTSC’s requirements, protocols and procedures, in addition to state and local laws.

The DTSC believes this work can be done quickly with “little or no impact” to our construction – the timeline for opening the school remains unchanged.  IUSD will provide you with regular updates, including all test results.  As with all other Irvine schools, Portola High School will continue IUSD’s tradition of excellence and the Irvine community will be proud of its next comprehensive high school.

For more information about the Portola High School site and a history of IUSD actions and DTSC documents, please visit iusd.org/portolaconstruction.

Thank you for your engagement and support of our students and schools, which enables IUSD to best serve our students.

Sincerely,

T-Walker2-smooth-sm

 

 

 

Terry L. Walker
Superintendent of Schools, Irvine Unified School District


Portola High groundbreaking celebrated as a testament to collaboration, perseverance


In less than two years, a state-of-the-art high school is expected to occupy this vast stretch of undeveloped land south of Irvine Boulevard. There will be classrooms, a 720-seat theater, a gymnasium, a building to house elective courses, and the kind of student center you might find on a college campus.

But IUSD school board President Sharon Wallin sees more than the promise of new facilities. She sees memories waiting to be made.

“I see pep rallies, homecoming dances, basketball games,” said Wallin, flanked by blue and white balloons. “I see band performances, spring musicals and campus clubs. I see the first encounters between students, and the lifelong friendships being made. That to me is what this project is all about.”

Portola High groundbreaking 3Joined by local dignitaries and community members, IUSD ceremoniously broke ground on Portola High School Thursday afternoon, marking the start of construction on the district’s fifth comprehensive high school after years of diligent planning, collaborative negotiations and rigorous environmental reviews. The event was held just three weeks after a groundbreaking celebration for the similarly named Portola Springs Elementary School.

“You know, they say that the best things in life don’t come easy,” Superintendent Terry Walker said during his introductory remarks. “So if that is true, then I have no doubt that this high school is going to be the greatest high school in the world.”

Along with Wallin and Walker, ceremony speakers included state Assemblyman Don Wagner, Irvine Company Senior Vice President Mike LeBlanc, FivePoint Communities Executive Vice President Lynn Jochim, Irvine Mayor Pro Tem Jeff Lalloway and representatives from the offices of Orange County Supervisor Todd Spitzer and state Senator Mimi Walters.

Portola High groundbreakingFEATUREDIUSD Board of Education members Paul Bokota, Lauren Brooks, Ira Glasky and Michael Parham were also on hand, as was former trustee Dr. Gavin Huntley-Fenner. And the Northwood High School band, led by music teachers Ben Case and Whitney Tavlarides, cheerfully loaned school spirit to the ceremony with a setlist of contemporary songs, including Pharrell Williams’ “Happy” and “Don’t Stop Believin’” by Journey. Both were fitting.

Naturally, there were photos to commemorate the occasion, featuring board members, staff and others breaking ground with shiny silver shovels near what will become home plate on Portola High’s future baseball diamond. (“So all kinds of references to hitting home runs would be very relevant to today’s events,” noted Walker.) But first it was time to acknowledge the moment’s significance — and to recognize those responsible for getting Portola High to this point.

“The story of this school, like most of the great stories, is one about people,” Walker said, “and in this case their selfless dedication to serving our students and this community.”

“The people responsible for making this school a reality … embody the same characteristics we aspire to cultivate in our students — courage and resilience and perseverance and grit, as well as thoughtful planning,” the superintendent said.

Portola High groundbreaking 2Indeed, planning had been long underway before IUSD and its developer partners reached agreement on the school’s location in 2011, kicking off an exhaustive evaluation and testing process that culminated with approvals from the California Department of Education and the state Department of Toxic Substances Control. In May, the Board of Education passed a resolution formally selecting the more-than-40-acre site along Irvine Boulevard and west of Alton Parkway, and the school was given a name nine days before Thursday’s ceremony. Portola High School, designed by HMC Architects, is now set to open in August 2016 with an inaugural class of freshman students.

“Here’s an understatement for you: This is a big day for our school district,” board President Wallin said, drawing an enthusiastic round of applause.

“Though our groundbreaking ceremonies traditionally mark the beginning of construction, our district’s vision is long-term,” she said. “Our commitment extends to many generations who will go on to shape this campus and establish its own identity, ensuring that Portola High is indeed synonymous with all that’s great in Irvine.”

Photos by IUSD Webmaster Shane Cline