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Lum Elementary School Seismic Issue

Repair and Replacement Study

At the Board of Education meeting on January 23, 2018 the Board of Education heard a presentation on the potential work and costs involved in repairing or replacing Lum Elementary School. The draft report and presentation are below. Watch Video of Presentation and Discussion

Resolutions to Move Students, Staff

At its public meeting on May 23, 2017, AUSD's Board of Education voted to relocate students and staff from Lum Elementary School due to seismic safety risks.

View the Board Resolution

Engineering Reports for Other Schools

We are in the process of posting the soil and structural engineering reports for the other AUSD campuses.

Find Reports Here

FAQS on Lum Safety Risk

Why is the district saying Lum Elementary may not be safe?  Analyses of the soil at Lum have shown that the land under and around the buildings is at high risk for significant liquefaction settlement in the event of a major earthquake. Analyses have also shown that the buildings' foundations at the site are not sufficient to withstand that liquefaction. That means that if there is a strong earthquake, the buildings can sink and partially collapse.


What is liquefaction? It is the process by which sandy or silty soils lose their strength during strong ground shaking and start behaving like a liquid. When that happens, the ground can settle unevenly, which can result in a building partially collapsing.  Even if portions of the building do not collapse, the classroom exit doors could be damaged and not open, preventing student escape.


What proof do you have of the liquefaction risk at Lum? Three geotechnic investigations have been performed on the Lum campus. The first one, conducted in 1991,  used the Standard Penetration Testing method. The second one, performed in 2017, used Cone Penetration Testing. Both found that the soil under Lum Elementary School is susceptible to deep liquefaction and settlement, due to particular soil types found on that site. A peer review of the Miller Pacific investigation, conducted by RGH Consultants, found the same potential for liquefaction and settlement as Miller Pacific had reported.


Two structural engineering firms have analyzed the buildings' foundations and structures. ZFA Structural Engineers did the first analysis. Based on direction from the Board and community feedback, the District hired Murphy Burr Curry to perform a peer review of ZFA's structural analysis. Murphy Burr Curry has no prior relationship with AUSD.  In addition, district staff asked ZFA to add more detail to their report.


Children are supposed to take cover under desks and tables during an earthquake, not in a doorway. So won't they be safe at Lum in the event of an earthquake? The protocol during an earthquake is to take cover under desks and tables to prevent being injured by falling debris. But in the case of smoke, fire, or a gas leak, children and staff would need functioning doors to escape the building.


Could children exit via windows? The same forces that could render a door inoperable could also damage windows. Children with disabilities or who have been injured also may not be able to exit from a window. And in the case of a fire or gas leak, it may be difficult to get a group of young children to exit via windows quickly and safely.


Isn’t all of Alameda at risk for liquefaction? Some areas are at risk of liquefaction, yes, but the type of soil under Lum Elementary School puts it at especially high risk for large settlements that can lead to building collapse in the event of a strong earthquake, especially with the type of foundation that Lum has.

bx Under state law, school districts have to test the soil at school sites before embarking on new construction. When the geotechnical engineers sampled the soil at Lum Elementary this spring, they discovered the threat of liquefaction was more significant than had been previously understood. This is partly because the tools used to analyze soil are more sophisticated than they used to be. It’s also because engineers now have a better understanding of how liquefaction works, why it’s a concern, and what kinds of foundations are most appropriate.


Why weren't students moved out immediately?  While the school itself is sound, the structural engineers are recommending developing a plan for removing students from the site. District staff want that plan for moving students, staff, and classrooms to new sites to be orderly and safe. That requires careful analysis, collaboration, and time.   


I just enrolled my child in TK/kindergarten at Lum. Where will she go? As soon as the Board makes a decision on whether or not to keep the school open next year, Student Services will let you know where your child will go.


Are other elementary school sites safe? Yes. The district had soil analyses done at other schools to make sure they are safe.  Lum is the only elementary school determined to have such a risk of large settlements.


Can Lum be repaired?  It’s too early to tell but district staff are evaluating options for the site and will present recommendations to the Board of Education in coming months. 


Can the district place portables on the Lum campus for the time being? The Division of State Architects (DSA) will not allow a school district to place portables on a site that has a known geohazard, such as potential for liquefaction, without the installation of some sort of mitigation measures, such as appropriate foundations. This would add significant time and expense to the task of providing portables at the site. Installing the requisite utilities – including electricity, water, and sewage – would also be very expensive. Moreover, DSA does not interpret its emergency rules to allow a district to construct an entire campus of portables.


What about Wood Middle School? Wood is not at risk of being closed. Part of the campus is still being evaluated. But the expected settlement is significantly less at this site than at Lum, and the Wood foundation is more resistant to liquefaction. It's possible that part of the facility will need some work, but the structural engineer has not yet made a recommendation.


Why didn’t the district form a "District Advisory Committee?" Under state law, District Advisory Committees are required only when a school district is considering declaring some of its property to be “surplus” so that it can be sold or leased.  The District is not considering declaring the Lum site “surplus” at this point.  Instead, the Board is deciding only whether students and staff should continue to use the existing buildings at Lum in the 2017-18 and subsequent school years. If the Board decides to follow the recommendation of the structural engineers and relocate students and staff to other sites, the District and the community will need to begin the process of deciding the long-term future use of the Lum site. That process would include a District Advisory Committee.


What happened at the April 28 Board of Education meeting? The Board of Education heard from district staff, the structural engineer, and one of the architects working on Measure I bond projects for the district. Community members, including Lum parent/guardians and Lum teachers, also spoke. Based on the feedback from community members and board members, the superintendent and the board president decided to postpone the vote on whether or not Lum students need to relocate next year until May 23. Agenda and Video for the Meeting.


What happened at the May 9 Board of Education meeting? The geotechnical engineer gave a presentation to the board about his methodology and conclusions on the risk of liquefaction on the Lum site. The master architect and structural engineer also answered questions from board members. Staff presented two scenarios for where Lum students could go if the board votes to close Lum. A parent advisory committee from Lum also gave a presentation. Video and Agenda for the meeting.


What happened next? District staff continued to gather information to answer community members’ questions about the methodology and findings of the soil and structural engineers. In addition, a second structural engineering company analyzed the soil data, building foundations, and structures. This brought the number of geotechnical engineers agreeing that the soil beneath Lum Elementary School is subject to significant liquefaction to three. In addition, two structural engineering firms reported that the foundations at the school cannot withstand that level of liquefaction, which could lead to partial or total building collapse in the event of a strong earthquake. A press release sent on May 17 summarized that engineer's recommendation; the full report is posted above. 


During this time, the first structural engineer has also expanded his original analysis and provided his calculations. District staff also surveyed Lum families and teachers to better understand their priorities and values if students need to be moved off the campus next year.


What happened at the May 23 Board of Education meeting? Staff and consultants presented updated information on the seismic risks at Lum Elementary School. The parent advisory committee from Lum gave a second report. Staff also provided an update on possible enrollment scenarios. The Board voted unanimously to move students and staff from the campus for an indefinite period. That resolution also calls for the formation of a District Advisory Committee to explore and make decisions on what should be done at the Lum site. Agenda and Video from the Meeting.


When did Lum families find out about their children's new school assignments? AUSD sent out letters on June 2, 2017.


What should we do if we didn't receive a letter? Bring proof of your residency to the Student Services Department at District Office (2060 Challenger Drive, Alameda) and staff will check for you.


What if we don't like our school assignment? You can submit an intradistrict transfer form to the Student Services Department. Please note, however, that AUSD may not know which transfers can be completed until after the start of the 2017-18 school year.


Will our new schools do anything to welcome us? All of the receiving schools held information nights for parent/guardians on June 15. Those principals now have their new families’ contact information and will contact you about end-of-summer (or start-of-school) welcoming events, such as potlucks, picnics, and playdates. PTAs at the sites are also planning activities for their new families.


Message to Lum Families on School Assignments

Dear Lum Families,

A number of you have called the Student Services Department asking for your child’s school assignment letters for the 2017-18 year. As promised, the letters were mailed out Friday, June 2. If you do not receive your letter by Wednesday, June 7 please call the Student Services office at 337-7072 and request that another letter be mailed. You can also stop by the office at 2060 Challenger Drive.

Please note that a number of the receiving schools are holding information nights from 6:30 to 7:30 pm on June 15. Details on those meetings are in your school assignment letters.

If after learning more about your child’s new school you still want to request a transfer to a different school, please find and submit a transfer request for the 2017-18 school year (on this page).  Please note, however, that we may not know if space is available for transfers until after the 2017-18 school year starts.

We know that this is has been a  difficult and emotional time for the Lum School community. Please know that the entire District is working together to ensure a smooth transition for Lum families. Your child will be welcomed with open arms into their new school community. Thank you for your patience, your understanding, and your willingness to work with us throughout this process. 



The Student Services Team

FAQ on 2017-18 Temporary Boundary Changes

On May 23, 2017, AUSD's Board of Education voted to move students and staff off the Lum Elementary School campus for the 2017-18 school year due to concerns about seismic safety. While the future of the Lum campus is being decided, Student Services needed to change the boundaries of AUSD's other elementary schools so that students in the old Lum zone have a "home" school.  Please see the following FAQ for more information about these temporary boundary changes.

Do the boundary changes affect people who are already enrolled in an AUSD elementary school?

The temporary boundaries only apply to families who have not yet enrolled for the 2017-18 year – i.e., families enrolling into AUSD after June 27, 2017 (the day the board approved the changes).

Where can I see the temporary boundaries?

All of the new maps are available via these links:

My older child was assigned to an elementary school based on the old boundaries. My younger child will be assigned to a different school under the new temporary boundaries. What can I do?

If your child will be starting school after 2017-18, please remember that these boundaries are only for the 2017-18 school year. We won’t know about future boundaries until a District Advisory Committee (to be formed when school starts again) decides what will happen with the Lum campus.

If boundary changes in 2017-18 (or later) do end up separating your children, you can submit an intra-district transfer request. Although we cannot guarantee that your request will be granted, it will have priority as it involves siblings.

Maya Lin is a magnet school. But now it has a boundary. Will it still offer open enrollment?

For 2017-18, families who live in the Maya Lin School zone will be assigned to that school, but there will also be open enrollment. This is only slightly different than the current enrollment system, where neighborhood families get first priority at the school but had to fill out an application to be eligible.


Map of Soil Sample Sites at Lum Elementary School

The first soil sample at Lum was taken where the new building was to be constructed. When that sample showed that the area could be subject to significant liquefaction, AUSD ordered the engineers to sample four more areas on the campus. All of the samples came back with the same result. This map shows the site of all five borings.

soil map

How to Stay Informed

We are updating this website frequently with reports, FAQs, board and staff updates, and district communications. Please check back regularly!


You also can follow us on Twitter @AUSDNews, "like" us on Facebook, and sign up to receive our district communications (generally one or two per week).


Board of Education meetings are open to the public, broadcast live on Comcast Ch. 15 and AT&T Ch. 99, and livestreamed on the City's website City Agendas. Video of board meetings is generally posted to the agenda within two or three days.

Community Update on Lum Options - May 31, 2018

On May 31, 2018, AUSD staff and Lum parent leaders held a community meeting to provide updates on recent research into options for Lum. The meeting included updates on the costs and logistics or repairing or replacing the school, as well as answers to a number of questions from community members. 

May 31 Meeting PowerPoint (PDF)

May 31 Community Update

District Advisory Committee

AUSD sent a press release about the formation of a District Advisory Committee to evaluate and make recommendations on six district properties on September 22, 2017. The release and application went to all families and employees, as well as local media. Staff also promoted it on AUSD's social media channels.

September 22 Press Release (PDF)

Meeting Agendas, Presentations, Minutes

Board of Education Meeting Recaps

January 23, 2018: The architect and structural engineer presented their report on the potential cost of repairing or replacing Lum Elementary School. The Board asked us for a community meeting about the report. Reports and Video from the Meeting


June 27, 2017: The Board approved temporary boundary changes to AUSD's other elementary schools, so that families enrolling into AUSD in 2017-18 will know where their children will go to school. These changes do not apply to students who are already enrolled.


May 23, 2017: The Board heard presentations from: the Lum committee opposed to moving students off the campus; thengineers and architects who recommend moving students off the campus; and district staff working on plans to relocate the students. The board voted 5-0 on a Board Resolution to move students off the campus.

Full Agenda and Video.


May 8, 2017: The Board of Education heard a presentation by the geotechnical engineer on the soils investigation  The district's master architect and the structural engineer also answered questions from the board, and staff presented possible scenarios for where Lum students could go if the facility needs to be closed. The parent committee formed at Lum to address these issues also gave a presentation. The Board is scheduled to vote on whether or not to house students at Lum in 2017-18 on May 23, 2017.

May 8 Vide and agenda.


April 28, 2017:

The Board of Education heard district staff and a structural engineer discuss the seismic safety of Lum Elementary School. The board also heard public comment on the issue. As a result of the meeting, the board president and the superintendent have decided to delay the vote about whether or not to close the school until the May 23, 2017 board meeting. April 28, 2017 Supporting Docs

School Information Nights: June 15, 2017

school info night
Principals and PTA volunteers at all of the receiving schools welcomed Lum families to their new campuses on June 15. Topics of discussion included bell schedules, special programs, school traditions, volunteer opportunities, and afterschool care options. Thank you to all who helped organize these sessions or attended!


We will be updating this page frequently with new Q&As for the FAQ, reports, timelines, and press releases. If you have a question that is not covered in the FAQ, please send it to our question line.