Walter Hays Elementary School



Walter Hays Elementary School

1525 Middlefield Road

Built: (1923) 1947, 1956, 1970, 2001

Total Site Area:

7.2 Acres

Building Area/Miscellaneous Circulation


Parking Area


Hard-Court Play Area


Turf Play Area


Building Area:                          49,371 SF

Existing Classroom Size           960 to 1440 SF

2018/2019 Enrollment:           375

Walter Hays Elementary School consists of six permanent single-story buildings and eight relocatable buildings surrounded by playground and field space. 

The original building built in 1923 was demolished in 1969 as part of an earthquake safety rebuilding program.  The buildings now on site include a classroom wing, constructed in 1947 and the Multipurpose building constructed in 1957.  A large triangular building housing the Administrative areas, the library and eleven classrooms was built in 1970.  There are six portables housing classrooms and 2 portables housing Day-Care facilities. 

In 2001 a Building for Excellence project added another classroom building and renovated the Classroom wings and main Administration / Library building.

Needs Summary

The main building is laid out for a collaborative teaching model. The additional shared space is valued, but the small trapezoidal classrooms in the 1970 building are problematic. In addition, the pick-up and drop off area is congested and feels difficult to keep orderly. The site is currently in design as one of the schools most in need of a new multiuse. New projects included in the redesign would be funded in a future bond. Due to the extent of reconfiguration in the existing library/admin/classroom building the District will study the cost effectiveness of total replacement for comparison.

Proposed masterplan projects include:

•    Demolish existing classroom wing constraining pick up/drop off

•    Construct new two kindergarten wing

•    Convert existing multipurpose to kids’ club

•    Add resource center

•    Add new quad with new multipurpose, two enrichment rooms, and eight classrooms

•    Reconfigure existing trapezoid classrooms for manageable teaching space and conversion to learning center and additional enrichment lab

•    A/C throughout

•    Exterior envelope improvements

•    Accessible playground and improved pick up and drop off

PAUSD plans air conditioning installation at all schools. In conjunction with the air conditioning work the campus will require energy efficiency upgrades including envelope improvements such as new doors and windows, as well as solar panel installation. Classroom modernization will also include an upgraded technology infrastructure and equipment including projectors and LED screens.

Site work includes new paving, accessible playground, and planting.

Facilities Conditions

The Walter Hays campus was most recently in 2001. The school is located at one of the busiest intersections in Palo Alto, Middlefield Rd. and Embarcadero Ave.  The student drop-off and parking area are located on campus at the front of the school. However, the main challenge for this campus is the proximity to two busy streets that many students must cross, causing a major safety concern. ADA site accessibility and parking spaces were improved during Building for Excellence, but the campus is currently not in compliance with today’s ADA requirements.

The asphalt parking lot on campus is small, and available parking spaces for faculty and staff on surrounding streets is limited. The parking lot was recently resurfaced and re-striped to maximize the available space, but parking spaces are still at a premium. The hardcourts were resurfaced in 2001. The concrete walkways are cracked throughout campus, generally due to adjacent tree roots. These sections should be replaced to remove potential tripping hazards as trees continue to impact the paving. There are also some miscellaneous paving areas near the Multipurpose room and Kinder Play areas that are older and are due for maintenance.

The sanitary sewer is original and has not been replaced to date.  The domestic water main and some branch lines were replaced in 1970, and a new backflow preventer was installed in 1989. However, the remaining lines serving the campus are original and have not been replaced. These lines should be evaluated and replaced if necessary.  The fire water lines and hydrants on site were added in 2001 and should not require any new work. A new electrical service was also provided to the site during Building for Excellence.  The gas service is run both underground and overhead and was replaced in 1970.  The site drainage around the campus has some local areas of ponding, but generally appears to be in good condition.

The existing buildings on the Walter Hays Elementary School campus are in generally good condition. The main Library and classroom buildings have built up roofing, clay tile mansards, hollow metal doors and painted stucco on the exterior.  The two original classroom wings and Multipurpose building have only built up roofing. The original windows were left in place, and include the original single pane glazing in most cases.  This is causing significant air infiltration and heat loss, which impacts the heating systems for the buildings during cold weather. 

The campus underwent accessibility improvements during the 2001 renovation, with path of travel and restroom upgrades done throughout the campus. In addition, voluntary seismic upgrades were undertaken for all the buildings and canopy structures, except for the Multipurpose building.

The campus has a triangular classroom building, that also houses the Library and Administration offices for the campus. The trapezoidal configuration of the classrooms in this building lead to inefficient teaching and learning. The walls are also non-demising walls, which lead to noise transfer between the classrooms.

The two original classroom wings have large windows running the length of the exterior walls and have volume ceilings and clerestory windows in each classroom. A new building with four classrooms was constructed in 2001 and is located near the Middlefield / Embarcadero intersection. There are also six modular classrooms located along the northern boundary of the campus, with two additional Day Care portables located in their midst.

The classroom interiors in the original classroom wing and the main building were modernized, with flooring, wall surfaces, markerboards, furnace units, lighting, power and data distribution upgrades.  Portions of the casework were replaced with new plastic laminate units, with the remaining casework left in place as painted wood.  The glue up acoustic ceiling tiles were either replaced or left in place, and painted to appear uniform, diminishing the acoustic qualities of the tiles

The Library was renovated as part of the Building for Excellence Program, and at 3,648 SF is adequate in size. The Administration area was renovated with flooring, casework and paint. Mechanical equipment, plumbing and lighting were replaced throughout.  The Multipurpose building was only slightly modernized, with just new flooring and a handicap lift placed within the interior.  The building doors were replaced and the building was painted.

The Multipurpose building at 2,666 SF is undersized for the planned campus capacity, especially given the planned expansion capacity for the campus, and is poorly located behind the original classroom wings, limiting supervision.