D.tech to break ground at Oracle: Event paves way for construction of unique school on tech titan campus

August 12, 2016

The Daily Journal 
August 12, 2016
After a long and occasionally difficult search for a permanent home, construction of the new Design Tech High School building is set to soon begin on the campus of Oracle Corporation.

Education officials and representatives from the technology giant are among those slated to host a groundbreaking ceremony for the San Mateo Union High School District’s only charter school during a private event Friday, Aug. 12.

The celebration will formally mark the beginning of the end of a yearslong process for d.tech, as the school focusing on science, math, engineering and design curriculum has moved to a few different homes and periodically been the source of contention along the way.

Ken Montgomery, director of the school, said the event setting the stage for construction is a testament to the commitment of advocates who continuously fought for the vision of the school.

“It’s nice to have moments like this to reaffirm having the energy to push you forward when things get tough,” he said. “I’m excited for the day. It’s just a nice day for the d.tech community.”

Montgomery founded d.tech in 2014, and a rift in the high school district community formed around its colocation on the Mills High School campus in Millbrae shortly after opening.

The school eventually moved to property rented from the San Mateo County Office of Education on Rollins Road in Burlingame, in advance of the Oracle Corporation unveiling plans to erect a new building for the school last year.

Montgomery said the construction of the new school would not have been possible without the collaborative effort of the school district and Oracle.

“The building represents so many entities working together to help kids,” he said.

The 64,000-square-foot learning space will be built to accommodate 550 students and 30 teachers in a building adjacent to the Belmont Slough, according to Colleen Cassity, Oracle’s director of education, who expressed enthusiasm for the project to finally get off the ground.

“We are just tremendously excited to be making this really definitive step forward in a project that has been two years in the making,” she said.

Oracle Corporation is footing the entire bill for constructing the school open to students from both the San Mateo Union and Sequoia Union high school districts, as the company’s headquarters in Redwood Shores fall south of the of the San Mateo Union High School District’s boundaries.

D.tech students and teachers worked with architects to design the building in an effort to create a space best addressing the specific needs of the unique curriculum offered at the school, said Cassity.

The two-story facility will include both a maker space for students to develop the vision of their projects and a connected fabrication lab where designs can be made into reality, she said.

Employees from the company will also be available to tutor students and offer their expertise on projects, said Cassity, further establishing the partnership between the corporate giant and the public school.

Montgomery said the mentorship offered by Oracle employees is one of his favorite components of the school’s new home in Redwood Shores.

“Our students having access to that kind of expertise is something I’m particularly excited about,” he said.

Cassity said she believed d.tech’s future presence on the campus of a globally recognized company is proof of the collaborative spirit common in the local technology marketplace.

“This kind of partnership is an example of the best of Silicon Valley,” she said.

Looking toward the groundbreaking and eventually the building construction, set to begin Sept. 1, Montgomery said he is thrilled for the opportunity to see his dreams for the project, and the school, become a reality.

“It really is such a unique, historic thing,” he said. “It’s such an amazing thing to be a part of.”


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