General FAQs

Commonly asked questions from our community:

Q: What is the purpose of the South Campus plan?

A: Building on our tradition of academic excellence that has been established over the School’s 130-year history, this plan will give our students and teachers new innovative, multidisciplinary, K-12 classrooms designed for STEM, makerspaces, and hands-on experiential learning. A new Performing Arts and Community Center will serve as an artistic hub for whole-child education and a space for community gatherings. We will address traffic and safety concerns by taking car drop-off/pick-up off Lincoln Avenue and onto a new two-lane loop driveway encircling the new property. We will enhance the quality of student life by providing an eight-acre educational open space for outdoor learning and opportunities for pause and reflection.

At the same time, we’ll preserve the qualities that have defined Head-Royce throughout our 130-year history – including our small class sizes and our student-centered, whole-child philosophy. We now find ourselves in the unique position to create a cutting-edge K-12 environment that will match the quality of our renowned academics.

Q: What is the scope of the project?

A: Head-Royce School will expand by eight acres, becoming a 22-acre contiguous campus. On the new south side of campus, we will renovate three 1920s Spanish-style buildings into 25,000 square feet of new, cutting-edge, STEM-oriented K-12 classroom space. A new 12,000-square-foot Performing Arts and Community Center will serve as an arts and community hub. The eight acres of beautiful hillside habitat will be honed into an educational open space, with intimate outdoor learning spaces, walking paths, and play space. A new two-lane loop driveway will be constructed, encircling the new south side of the campus, for parent pick-up/drop-off, and a pedestrian link will be tunneled beneath Lincoln Avenue for safe pedestrian travel between both sides of the campus. These infrastructure improvements are a direct result of feedback from our neighbors, which we’ve collected from numerous conversations over the last six years.

Q: What was the former use of the South Campus site and how does the proposed use compare?

A: The South Campus property was originally purchased in 1926 by a charitable orphanage called West Oakland Home.   In the late 1920’s and early 30’s, the West Oakland Home built two dormitories on the parcel (now Buildings 1 and 2.)  Further improvements such as an auditorium/gymnasium and administrative office (Building 0) were constructed in 1935.  In 1940, West Oakland Home began accepting children referred through foster agencies.  After WWII, the organization shifted its focus to handling children with increasingly severe developmental and psychological problems.  The organization changed its name to Lincoln Child Center in 1961and, by the end of the 1960s, Lincoln Child Center was running six programs, which included residential treatment, day treatment, group homes, consultation, tutoring workshops, and after care, serving some 700 children and families each year.  In the 1970s, the Josiah Royce School for Boys leased classroom and field space from Lincoln Child Center, before merging with the Anna Head School for Girls across the street to form The Head-Royce School. In February 2013, the Head-Royce School purchased the site from Lincoln Child Center. After the sale, Lincoln Child Center leased back the site from Head-Royce School and continued its operations on the site until 2017, when it vacated the campus entirely and relocated its facilities to West Oakland.

Q: How will the South Campus enhance Head-Royce's academic offerings?

A: The new South Campus will serve the needs of our students with enhancements that support academic rigor, experiential learning, and a student-centered approach. It will provide students and faculty with educational opportunities they’ve been craving for a long time: cutting-edge labs with tools for ideation, prototype, and design; expansive green-spaces that will promote outdoor, hands-on learning; and a state-of-the-art performing arts and community center. Students and teachers will benefit from dedicated lab space for use in disciplines ranging from robotics and new media, to woodworking and textiles, to the performing arts. These opportunities will encourage students to apply their skillsets in novel ways while developing real-world problem-solving capabilities.

Q: How much is the project going to cost and will tuition be affected?

A: The cost of the project is still to be determined as we work with the City of Oakland on finalizing the plan. The cost will be borne by a fundraising capital campaign, with any funding gap to be addressed by construction phasing and/or possible debt financing. Tuition will not be increased to pay for this building project.

Q: How will current campus operations be affected?

A: A pleasant change from most school construction projects, the majority of construction will occur across the street with minimal disruption to our current operations. The School has had four experiences with major construction on the campus since the 1990s and we’re confident we can maintain a positive school experience even in the midst of a major construction project. Access to and staging for this construction site will be via Lincoln Avenue and should have a minimal impact on the neighborhood.

Q: What is the timeline of this project?

As of November 2021, the City of Oakland has released a Draft Environmental Impact Report on the proposed Head-Royce School South Campus Plan Project. This independent analysis was developed by the City and its team of environmental consultants with a wide range of expertise. The document analyzes what, if any, project environmental impacts exist, and makes recommendations on how to mitigate those impacts. Here is an anticipated timeline for the project, as well as next steps.

Q: How will student enrollment and class size be affected?

A: We are committed to preserving the small class sizes and student-centered, whole-child philosophy that make Head-Royce renowned. Historically, our enrollment size has grown at a rate of approximately 1% per year. We expect to continue this slow and measured enrollment growth, without compromising class size or individualized student attention. Over future decades years, we expect to reach a new maximum enrollment threshold of 1,250 students. This gradual increase would be primarily focused in the upper school, where a slightly larger 9-12th grade student body would enhance the student experience through more academic choice, and social and athletic opportunities.

Q: How will traffic and parking be affected?

A: Traffic and parking improvements have been informed directly by the feedback we received from our community. Student drop-off and pick-up will be greatly enhanced by a new loop driveway encircling the new property, with optimized traffic lights and efficient turning lanes to move the queues off of Lincoln Avenue. Parents will easily park in expanded parking lots to see their child off for the day, connect with school officials, and socialize with fellow parents and staff in a new Welcome Center.

A broad and open pedestrian tunnel will successfully integrate the two properties into one holistic 22-acre campus, enabling smooth, safe, and seamless pedestrian flow beneath busy Lincoln Avenue, with the added benefit of reinforcing positive neighbor relations with reduced foot and vehicle traffic on neighborhood streets. An at-grade crossing option (crosswalk) has also been studied as an alternative.

The new loop driveway and pedestrian tunnel will improve the flow of traffic in the area, while ensuring students are able to safely travel to and from pick-up and drop-off. Neighborhood through-traffic will move more smoothly on Lincoln Avenue, while drivers will be able to reverse direction after drop-off without driving through the current neighborhood loop – a benefit to parents and neighbors alike.

The DEIR document prepared by the City of Oakland finds no significant transportation impacts and finds that the project will not result in a significant increase in vehicle miles travelled (VMT), which is a metric reflecting the number of new vehicle miles of automobile travel attributable to a project. Here are the DEIR key findings

Q: How will this project impact safety during pick-up and drop-off?

A: The pedestrian tunnel will make pick-up and drop-off safer, with the added benefits of improving the flow of traffic on Lincoln Avenue and knitting together the North and South campuses into one seamless school community.

Q: Will there be any new athletic space?

A: In early 2018, the School was able to secure a long-term lease of a practice field at Ability Now Bay Area—a neighboring nonprofit organization. This leased practice field provides much-needed athletic practice space right across the street, which means we do not need to construct a costly new athletic field on a steeply graded property as part of the South Campus Plan. The new eight-acre educational space will provide expansive room for students to play, walk, and learn in a beautiful outdoor setting. And concluding in fall 2021, the athletics field on our main campus is officially getting a makeover with the installation of field turf.

Q: How will neighbors be impacted?

A: Our plans have been informed by neighbor feedback from the very early stages, starting in 2013. Early neighbor feedback identified five areas of concern: process/transparency, enrollment size, traffic/parking, noise and neighborhood character. Thanks to the detailed input we have gathered from our neighbors, we have identified innovative solutions to these concerns, as well as additional issues.

We believe that the South Campus Plan makes a big impact on the student experience at Head- Royce yet exercises a light touch from a construction-and-use standpoint. The one new, significant building – the 12,000-square-foot Performing Arts and Community Center – is situated in the southwestern corner of campus, barely visible from Lincoln Ave. The plan will protect in place approximately 190 native trees, and relocate 20 small native trees including significant protection for 7 matured specimens. Overall, the design protects 88% of existing native trees on site and supplements with new trees for all non-natives removed in accordance with City of Oakland tree replacement policies. The new loop driveway will alleviate the largest neighborhood disruption – parent pick-up/drop-off slowing traffic on Lincoln Ave and cars being routed through the neighborhood to reverse direction.

The Head-Royce community has been working diligently to be good neighbors and build goodwill for a smooth, transparent process with neighbors and the City. Head-Royce has been a proud and active member of the Lincoln Highlands-Oakmore-Dimond community for over half a century, and we are committed to maintaining the highest levels of transparency and access for our neighbors.

The DEIR document prepared by the City of Oakland finds that all environmental impacts from the project—such as noise and traffic—can be reduced to a level of “less than significant” with standard conditions of approval and mitigation measures. We believe the DEIR’s conclusions point to the thoughtfulness and care that went into developing this proposal. Here are the DEIR key findings.  

Q: Will new construction obstruct neighbors' views?

A: No, the plan does not interfere with any of our neighbors’ current views, of the Bay, Oakland, or beyond. Our architects have designed the plans with careful attention to current sight lines and the only significant proposed addition, the Performing Arts & Community Center, does not exceed the height of current structures. This is confirmed by the City of Oakland's DEIR.

Q: Will there be any intrusive nighttime outdoor lighting?

A: No, there will not be any nighttime lighting beyond basic illumination for safe walking paths. The City of Oakland’s DEIR found that campus lighting would have a less than significant impact on the surrounding community.

Q: What will you do to prevent residents who live adjacent to the new South Campus from being inconvenienced by excessive noise?

A: As part of our ongoing commitment to being a good neighbor, we are quick to respond to any concerns raised by neighbors, and strictly enforce practices designed to limit noise at our school. We will continue to be vigilant on this front as we undertake this project. A sound-buffering perimeter wall, as well as the greenery along the perimeter, will limit noise for adjoining properties. We are also working with community members on a plan for thoughtful timing and frequency of large outdoor gatherings. Construction-related activity will have a less than significant impact on the surrounding community. Operational noise impacts from school activities are determined to comply with Oakland’s Noise Ordinance, or can be mitigated to do so.

Q: Are you eliminating any trees for construction?

A: We take very seriously the importance of building a sustainable campus that preserves the area’s existing natural resources and vegetation. The vast majority of healthy trees will either remain in place or be replanted. The plan will protect in place approximately 200 native trees, and relocate 45 small native trees as well as nine oak trees. The only native trees that will be removed are either dead or in very poor condition. Some non-native trees including many in poor condition will be removed. Overall, over 80% of trees currently present will remain on the South Campus. We are taking great care to utilize a tree replacement plan in accordance with City of Oakland tree removal policies.

Q: Are you demolishing any historic buildings?

A: No historic buildings will be demolished. There are three buildings currently on the South Campus site that are considered to be "historic resources." These buildings will be preserved and renovated in a way that is consistent with their historic significance.

Q. What was the former use of the South Campus site and how does the proposed use compare?

The South Campus property was originally purchased in 1926 by a charitable orphanage called West Oakland Home. In the late 1920s and early 1930s, the West Oakland Home built two dormitories on the parcel (now Buildings 1 and 2). Further improvements, such as an auditorium/gymnasium and administrative office (Building 0), were constructed in 1935. 

In 1940, West Oakland Home began accepting children referred through foster agencies. After WWII, the organization shifted its focus to working with children with increasingly severe developmental and psychological problems. The organization changed its name to Lincoln Child Center in 1961 and, by the end of the 1960s, Lincoln Child Center was running six programs, which included residential treatment, day treatment, group homes, consultation, tutoring workshops, and after care, serving some 700 children and families each year.  

In the 1970s, the Josiah Royce School for Boys leased classroom and field space from Lincoln Child Center, before merging with the Anna Head School for Girls across the street to form The Head-Royce School. In February 2013, the Head-Royce School purchased the site from Lincoln Child Center. After the sale, Lincoln Child Center leased back the site from Head-Royce School and continued its operations on the site until 2017, when it vacated the campus entirely and relocated its facilities to West Oakland.   

Q: How have you incorporated neighbors' feedback into your plans?

A: We are committed to open and transparent lines of communication with our neighbors to address any concerns that may arise. The plan represents years of thoughtful input we gathered from meetings with our neighbors, which helped us identify innovative solutions to concerns around noise, traffic, privacy, neighborhood character, and sustainability, among other concerns. We believe that clear and ongoing communication is vital, and we will continue to engage openly and transparently with our neighbors in this community.

Q: Neighbors will be inconvenienced by new construction. Will they get to share in any of its benefits?

A: Yes! While we make every available effort to prevent and minimize disruption for our neighbors, we will also make sure they can share in the benefits the new South Campus will bring to the community, including enjoying its ample green spaces. Our neighbors already have access to athletic facilities and other existing campus amenities through an annual key card, and that policy will continue.

Q: Have parents and alumni been given the opportunity to provide feedback?

A: Yes. We’ve drawn on the wide range of expertise among our alumni, parents, faculty, and the entire Head Royce Community – from real estate, finance, law, land-use, city planning, and, of course, education – to create cutting-edge learning spaces designed for the future of education, while at the same time preserving the qualities that have defined Head-Royce throughout our history. Their input guided the master plan from its earliest stages and helped define our objectives and priorities.

Q: What does the City's approval process look like?

A: As of spring 2019, we are currently engaged with the City Planning office in the standard Environmental Impact and CEQA process. This public process will determine if any changes need to be made before building permits are granted, and will closely study elements including noise, historic landmarks, traffic impact, and environmental sustainability. We expect the process to conclude next year.

Q: How can I make my voice heard about the plan?

A: We want to hear from you! The best place to start is our online community portal, where you can send us your feedback, sign up for updates, and find out more information. We will also continue holding regular community conversations on the plan, which all are encouraged to attend. And you can contact our Director of Community Relations, Mary Fahey, with questions at any time via email (communityrelations@headroyce.org) or phone (510-228-1503).