Two people walking down the stairs in the courtyard of a school with construction fencing in the background.
Blach Construction Project Manager Ryan Holman and spokesperson Kate Blocker descend the steps at one of the new buildings at the Milpitas Unified School District Innovation Campus. Photo by B. Sakura Cannestra.

    One Santa Clara County school district is preparing students for the future by expanding its curriculum from theoretical to a more applied learning approach.

    The Milpitas Unified School District Innovation Campus has opened the first phase of a project designed to provide business development and hands-on learning opportunities to students of all ages. Once completed, the campus will house the district’s adult education program, early childhood education, Calaveras Hills High School and the Milpitas High School extension program among other community spaces for career development.

    MUSD Superintendent Cheryl Jordan told San José Spotlight that the extension program “will provide a  pathway of opportunities for our high school students who are at the main MHS campus. This is one of the hallmarks of our vision for the campus.”

    The Milpitas High School campus has an enrollment of more than 3,000 students.

    The district finished the first of three phases in August, including administrative offices and the adult education program.

    The new campus is expected to cost more than $100 million, the bulk of which is funded through Measure AA, a $284 million bond passed in 2018 to upgrade school facilities. Other funding comes from local businesses, such as a $750,000 donation from KLA Corporation and state and federal money, including $1.5 million from the state secured by Assemblymember Alex Lee.

    Jordan said district leaders are building relationships with local foundations to help support the project’s additional goals.

    “We want Milpitas and Milpitas Unified to be the cornerstone for this side of Silicon Valley and the global Silicon Valley, so that our learners are prepared to be the creators and engineers of the future, which is right now,” Jordan told San José Spotlight.

    Students will be able to learn directly from businesses in Milpitas through partnerships the district is forging that pair with campus programs. The goal is to give students the opportunity to explore a variety of industries and pick what they want to focus on, Jordan said.

    “We’re always looking for different ways that students can have exposure to careers through education,” Jordan said.

    She said students already have been mentored by various sectors of industry in Milpitas, including local government officials. Last year, students had the chance to meet the companies building the campus and talk to building designers, architects and construction workers.

    The multimillion-dollar campus is designed by Quattrocchi Kwok Architects and being built by Blach Construction, whose portfolio includes a wide range of educational campuses.

    Blach completed the first phase of construction within a year. The company uses a patented building solution called Folia where prefabricated materials are assembled on-site. Blach Project Manager Ryan Holman said this speeds up the building process.

    Traditional construction would have taken more than two years, Holman said. This method lessens the noise and other construction distractions for students who are studying just a few feet away.

    “Because we do a lot on occupied sites, and we have a stellar safety record, we do everything we can to minimize disruption,” Holman told San José Spotlight.

    Construction on the second phase, which includes new buildings for Calaveras Hills High School, began in June and is expected to be completed by August 2024, Holman said.

    The school district still needs an additional $25 million to fund the project’s final phase, which will house the early childhood education program and career development center.

    “We want to disrupt the inequity that exists particularly in Silicon Valley, where you don’t see people of vast backgrounds in the tech industry or in other fields,” Jordan told San José Spotlight.

    Contact B. Sakura Cannestra at [email protected] or @SakuCannestra on X, formerly known as Twitter. 

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