New SCUSD high school starts construction


Olivia Jones

Members of SCUSD and city councils met to “break ground” together.

After 10 years of strenuous planning, the construction for a new school at the old Agnews Development Center in San Jose began on October 26th with a groundbreaking ceremony.

SCUSD board members, San Jose and Santa Clara City Council members and others involved with the project gathered in San Jose to commemorate the building of a new elementary school, middle school, high school and park that will be part of SCUSD.

“This is a rare occurrence, and to be building three schools is truly amazing,” SCUSD Superintendent Stanley Rose said.

These new schools will be built on the original land from the mid 1800s. Since the mid 1800s, the land has gone through many reconstructions.

Agnews Development Center was a psychiatric and medical care facility known as “The Great Asylum for the Insane” in 1855. It was later used as land for livestock in the early 1900s. After finding the soil to be very fertile, the site was used for agriculture. In the 1930s, the area turned into Agnews Farm Annex, covering 800 acres of land. The Annex was divided into three wards, each with their own heating systems and kitchens.

Within the next ten years, the land will serve approximately 2,000 students total, and the park will serve many more members of the surrounding community.

These schools will “provide students for many years to come,” Albert Gonzalez, board president of the SCUSD, said.

Most of the funds for the project came from the two Measure H bonds, one in 2010 and one in 2014. Voting for these bonds granted SCUSD $500.1 million to modernize classrooms, fix facilities, and enhance safety and security systems. Recently, San Jose finally got the go to turn the wards into three brand new schools and a park.

Though the designs have not been finalized, 23 acres of the unoccupied land will become a park that everyone in the community will be able to access, according to Jim Canova, an SCUSD board member. This will become the “largest park San Jose has done in a century,” Canova said.

Not only is the park a historic accomplishment, but the schools as well will become one of a kind. Bob Wykowski, lead advocate on the Agnews project, hopes to use this campus as a model for other schools.

According to Teresa O’Neill, vice mayor of the Santa Clara City Council, the schools plan to enhance student learning by incorporating technology, giving them  the best experience with online educational programs. One such program is Footsteps2Brilliance, an innovative site that allows any pre-K through third grade student access to literacy support.  

As this is the first campus with all K-12 grades in north San Jose, the schools will accommodate the student population in the north San Jose and Santa Clara areas. Though nothing is set in stone, some students will most likely be pulled from nearby schools in Santa Clara, such as SCHS and Wilcox High School, since they are overcrowded. Also, district and school boundaries may change due to the addition of the new schools.

To close the ceremony, a weathervane topped with a rooster was pulled off the roof of one of the wards, starting the construction of the new schools. “[The weathervane is] symbolic of the direction we’re going,” Larry Adams, Director of School Bonds Projects for the SCUSD, said. The rusted weathervane is one the most iconic of the historical features as it is one of the original parts of Agnews.

The new school site and park plans to open in the fall of 2019. Those involved with the project, including Canova, say the site will “not only benefit students but the community at large.”


Reporting contributed by Olivia Jones