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


Board of Education unanimously approves a name for IUSD’s next high school


We now know what name will be stamped on the marquee outside Irvine’s next high school: Portola High School.

gavelThe Board of Education voted unanimously on Tuesday night to brand IUSD’s fifth comprehensive high school with that moniker after considering a lengthy list of community submissions — and a handful of staff recommendations based on those submissions, including Great Park High, Modjeska High, Veterans High and Park View High.

Despite more than 300 community suggestions, the early board consensus was that there was no runaway favorite, and there was talk of postponing a final decision. But board members ultimately agreed that Portola High was the right choice, and one that fits with IUSD’s other high school names.

“Believe me, I’ve been thinking about it,” Board President Sharon Wallin said, “and there’s not a name great enough for what this high school is going to be.”

Joining an award-winning lineup that includes Creekside, Irvine, Northwood, University and Woodbridge high schools, Portola High is on track to open with an inaugural class of freshmen in August 2016. In the meantime, an Oct. 16 groundbreaking ceremony has been planned to mark the beginning of construction.


Groundbreaking ceremony to be held Oct. 16 for IUSD’s new Portola High School


HS5GB
A date has been set for the groundbreaking of Irvine Unified’s fifth comprehensive high school.

The IUSD Board of Education, district staff and local dignitaries will gather for a special ceremony to mark the beginning of construction on Portola High School Thursday, Oct. 16. The event, which is open to the public, is scheduled to start at 3:30 p.m. at the future site of the new campus, which will be located on the south side of Irvine Boulevard, west of Alton Parkway. (Click to enlarge the map below.)

Because there’s not exactly a parking lot yet, guests are encouraged to carpool. For safety reasons, they’re also encouraged to wear flat, closed-toe shoes.

HS5 mapIf all goes as planned, the state-of-the-art secondary school will welcome its first batch of freshmen in August 2016. That’s significant, because enrollment projections indicate IUSD will need a fifth comprehensive high school campus in place to accommodate thousands of new homes — and to prevent overcrowding at Irvine, Northwood, University and Woodbridge high schools.

In 2011, IUSD and its developer partners reached a tentative agreement on the school’s location, setting the stage for an exhaustive evaluation and testing process that culminated with approvals from the California Department of Education and the state Department of Toxic Substances Control. Nearly three years later, the Board of Education passed a resolution formally selecting the 40.2-acre site along Irvine Boulevard and allowing ownership of the property to be transferred from developer Heritage Fields.

In anticipation of the Oct. 16 groundbreaking ceremony, the Board of Education recently named the school Portola High after considering a lengthy list of community submissions, as well as a handful of staff recommendations based on those submissions. Other potential monikers included Great Park High, Modjeska High, Veterans High and Park View High.

Note: This post has been updated to include the school’s new name.


What will be the name of Irvine’s next high school? IUSD is seeking your suggestions


Irvine’s next high school is on track to open with an inaugural class of ninth-graders in August 2016.

But first things first: The school needs a name, and you can help.

IUSD is asking community members to submit suggestions for what to call the new campus via this online input form. All entries received by the Sept. 26 deadline will be reviewed by Superintendent Terry Walker and his staff, which will then make a recommendation to the Board of Education.

HS5studentunion_000Board members are expected to vote on an official moniker at their Oct. 7 meeting, ensuring IUSD’s fifth comprehensive high school is no longer referred to as IUSD’s fifth comprehensive high school by the time students arrive.

Enrollment projections indicate a new campus will be needed in 2016 to accommodate thousands of new homes in the area while preventing overcrowding at Irvine, Northwood, University and Woodbridge high schools. Following nearly three years of analysis and environmental reviews, board members approved a resolution in May to do just that, securing more than 40 acres along Irvine Boulevard, west of Alton Parkway, for the new school.

And now comes the question of what should be stamped on the marquee.

The Board of Education’s policy for naming campuses and facilities states that elementary schools should be named after an adjacent street, park, or village, and middle schools should reference significant landmarks in the community. (You can find recent examples here and here.) As for high schools, the same policy says their names should be considered individually. It also suggests the process for naming sites should include community input where feasible.

So here’s your chance to brand a future Irvine landmark. To suggest a name for IUSD’s next high school, click here, or visit http://tinyurl.com/fifthhighschool.