New School of SF: Frequently Asked Facility Questions

Last updated 5/4/16

Like the Home & School Council and all of New School’s committees, the full Facilities Committee is a group of families and staff who’ve volunteered their time to assist the New School SF community in bettering our existing facility as well as identifying our best option for additional space—and helping to secure that space.

Because the Facilities Committee is tackling everything from installing soundproofing in our current school location to hunting for a permanent location and nearby o pen space, we are forming Subcommittees to help us achieve our goals. A t our core we are a working group, so everyone on the Subcommittee will have a role.

If you’re interested in heading or serving on a Facilities Subcommittee (or see a need for another Facilities Subcommittee, such as Classroom Lighting), please reach out to the Facilities ExecutiveCommittee:  

Your email will be received by:

·      Ryan Chapman (Co­Head of School and parent of Ophelia the Sea Rock Rocker)
·      Erika Ehmsen (Facilities Committee Co­Chair and Rock Star Panda Luke’s mom)
·      Jeremy Nelson (Bat Ray Wilder’s dad)
·      Nik Tan (Facilities Committee Co­Chair and Moon Jellyfish Javier’s mum)

The Executive Committee has been working with Ryan (on current and future facilities) and fellow Co­Head of School Emily Bobel Kilduff (on fundraising for the purchase of a permanent building). Together, we’ve compiled this list of FAQs about our current facility and our search for a permanent home for our school.

These FAQs will be posted at school (in English and Spanish) and on our school website (in English and Spanish) and will be updated as we have more information to share.

Q: We’ll have 44 more kids joining us in the fall—where will our two new classrooms be?

A: Ryan has been working with an architect who specializes in school design to develop these plans, which were presented at our February 2016 Home & School Council meeting:

Of the two designs, we will be pursuing Option 1 because it meets our space requirements, addresses noise spillover, offers a diverse number of learning environments to meet student needs, and requires the least renovations, making it financially feasible.

We know that it’s going to be a bit tight, but we do have the space to add these two needed classrooms while maintaining square footage per child at roughly the same as this past year. To accomplish this, we’ll need to repurpose the Exploratory Room as a classroom—but we won’t lose the arts!

And to help with noise reduction, a Facilities Subcommittee is working on noise­-dampening options for shared spaces (such as ceiling-hung baffles, ceiling-­mounted foam panels, and fabric­-covered room dividers). 

Q: Where will adult collaboration space be next year?

A: While we’ll have some space in the school, we’re on the hunt for approximately 400 square feet of additional meeting space nearby for our teachers and admin team to use next year.

We have a number of leads and need a volunteer to help coordinate the search. The work will focus on following up with leads, enlisting other parents, and further outreach to local businesses. If you have the time and interest to help lead this Adult Collaboration Space Subcommittee, please email the Executive Committee:

And if you have a lead to pass along, please add it to the Adult Collaboration Space tab on this spreadsheet: h ttps://

Q: How long is the lease in our current location?

A: Our current lease is through the end of the 2016–’17 school year (with some buffer time for moving out).

Q: Is there a possibility of staying here longer?

A: We have a 5­year plan to long­term financial stability, and it would be budget­busting to continue our lease at its current market rate. We will keep an open dialogue with our landlord, but unless something changes in terms of the rent structure, it is highly unlikely that we will be able to negotiate any additional space in this building.

Q: If we w ere to stay longer in our current building, where would our green/open space be?

A: The Facilities Committee has feelers out for neighborhood spaces, including open fields and other undeveloped and under­developed parcels of land. If you have a spot in mind, please add it to the Outdoor Space tab on this spreadsheet:

We also need help pursuing these leads, so please comment on the spreadsheet as to whether you have the time and interest to help dig into these options. And if you’d like to lead the Open Space Subcommittee, p lease email the Executive Committee:

Q: If we can’t stay longer in our current building, where will we be for the 2017–’18 school year?

A: We are actively working toward finding our school’s permanent home and are examining a number of off­market* leads that we could purchase or lease long­term: (*We’re not pursuing many on­market leads because they are generally too expensive to begin with and are typically bid up.)

Given the competitive real estate market and the zoning requirements for a K–12 school, we have been conducting a broad search with this criteria in mind:

• Functionality: Can it meet the basic needs to fulfill our school’s core mission and support our community?

• Quality: Can it provide space for additional amenities to support values and build identity?

• Affordability: Can we afford it with existing resources, fundraising, and/or creative financing with developer/investors/co­tenants?

• Feasibility/availability: Beyond cost, can we get it (connections with influencers, timing, seller circumstances, etc.)?

• Accessibility: Does the location itself and/or the supporting context (transit, etc.) optimize access for current and future population?

Building size needs:*K–5 = Approx. 24,000 square feet*K–8 = Approx. 36,000 square feet*K–12 = Approx. 52,000 square feet

Q: How far from our current location are you looking?

A: According to a December 2015 poll of New School families, our current school community feels that the two most important characteristics of our next building are that it be relatively close to our current space and that it have outdoor space.

With that in mind, all of our current active leads are along the Mission corridor, specifically in the Mission, Mission Bay, SOMA, Design District, and the Excelsior.

In addition to pursuing off­market leads for purchase or lease in these areas, we are actively talking to the Archdiocese regarding space in closed Catholic schools and to educational partners with land or building space to spare.

Q: Will there be a play yard and green/garden/open space in our new location?

A: They are toward the top of our wish list.

Q: Will there be bus service to our new location?

A: We understand that our current location is a haul for some families, and we’d love to be able to provide a school bus. However, because of the current cost of our lease, we don’t have the budget to offer bus service to our current location—as a yearly contract would run us about $120k. We will re­evaluate the bus option when we know the facility costs of our new location.

Q: How will we pay for a new building and any work it might need?

A: Ryan and Emily are preparing targeted asks to donors who have already committed to assisting New School. And to pay for any renovations above and beyond donors’ commitments, we would pursue a building improvement loan through a charter school development fund.

Q: If our new building needs work, how would we accomplish that during the school year?

A: If the building requires work that can’t be achieved during the school year, we will seek out a temporary home. One option is to go to SFUSD and request a 1­year facility lease in accordance with Proposition 39, which voters passed in 2000 to ensure that charter school students are given equal access to public school facilities.

Q: Could we lease an SFUSD school as our new permanent location?

A: While the cost per square foot of an SFUSD lease is extremely attractive, the District typically only grants 1­year leases via Prop 39 requests and could ask us to change facilities every year.

But we will apply for a District lease as an additional option for the 2017–’18 school year, as applications are due in the fall (nearly a year in advance of a lease start date).

Q: Do I need to worry about our school not having a home?

A: No, as we have the District Prop 39 lease as a guaranteed option. You can read more about Prop 39 here:

Q: When will we know where our new building is?

A: By the fall of 2016, we will tell you what we’ve narrowed our options to. But if we aren’t able to purchase or lease a building by this fall and begin any needed renovations, then we may not be able to tell you where we’re headed until the District gives us the address of our Prop 39 lease location—which we’ll learn between February and May 2017.

Q: If we have a choice of where to buy or lease, will we get to vote on where the new building is?

A: We will strive to make the site-­locating process as transparent as possible and to keep you fully informed, but we won’t take a school­wide vote because we have to make a decision that’s best for the school’s long­-term future—beyond our founding families’ needs. Before we make a decision, we will take all of our families’ and staff’s input into account.

Q: What’s the best way to stay informed about our current and future facilities?

A: We will be setting up a conference call once a month and posting notes (in English and Spanish) shortly after each call.

Q: What if I have a question that I forget to bring up during a conference call?

A: Feel free to reach out to the Facilities’ Executive Committee, which meets with Ryan weekly to identify and vet off­-market leads and pending listings. The best way to reach the Executive Committee:

As mentioned above, your email will be received by:

Ryan Chapman (Co­Head of School and parent of Ophelia the Sea Rock Rocker)
Erika Ehmsen (Facilities Committee Co­Chair and Rock Star Panda Luke’s mom)
Jeremy Nelson (Bat Ray Wilder’s dad)
Nik Tan (Facilities Committee Co­Chair and Moon Jellyfish Javier’s mum)

And we will strive to reply within 48 hours.

Thank you,Erika, Nik, Jeremy, and Ryan