Maybeck High School Goes to ZAB for Relocation Permit

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Monday October 20, 2008 - 06:53:00 PM

Maybeck High School—a private school in Berkeley—may be moving to a new location in February. 

The coeducational, teacher-coop prep school will request the city’s Zoning Adjustments Board on Thursday for a use permit to relocate from its current location on Bancroft Way to St. John’s Presbyterian Church at 2727 College Ave. 

The move would help the school to bring all its programs and classes—some of which are held at the Wesley Center a block away—under one roof and to function more smoothly, Maybeck’s head teacher John Muster said Monday. 

“We are very excited,” Muster said over a telephone interview. “The St. John’s facility is a beautiful architecture. It will provide a sound conducive space for students to learn. It is still close to the UC Berkeley campus and will help us to conduct all our programs simultaneously rather than one after the other. We have very limited space at the old space and had to go out and rent classrooms.” 

Founded in 1972, the school was named after renowned Berkeley architect Bernard Maybeck. It moved into the Sunday school wing of the United Methodist Church at 2362 Bancroft two years later. 

Muster said enrollment had not played a factor in the relocation, adding that the school was committed to keeping the number of students at 120. 

St. John’s, which has experienced a decrease in its membership over the last two decades, hopes to rent out space to different organization to meet renovation costs, church officials said. 

Nelly Coplan, church administrator, said the church drew up to 1,400 members in the ‘70s but that the number had decreased to 140 recently. 

“A lot of people moved away,” she said. “Maybe people lost faith and moved on. The whole building was built with the idea of having people there all the time using all the rooms. Our membership does not sustain our building use. We need all kinds of things happening in our church to draw revenue. It’s an aging facility-- there’s all kinds of things that need to be repaired.” 

The church, Coplan said, had recently raised $1 million through a capital campaign project, most of which would be used toward improving the building’s infrastructure. 

“We just bought a fire sprinkler alarm system which cost $42,000,” she said. “We need money to repair our heating and plumbing. ... We need someone to help us. Someone who is on the same scale as us—on a progressive course of peace and justice.” 

Coplan acknowledged that Maybeck High School would be a good match for the church especially since they both had a common mission of further advancement. 

St. John’s has been home to the East Bay School for Girls—which was closed two years ago—and now houses Monteverde, a pre-school. The St. John’s Childcare—an autonomous institution which has members of the church on its board—has existed at the church for the last 31 years. 

Some area neighbors have opposed Maybeck High School’s relocation plans on the grounds that it would bring congestion and noise to the neighborhood. 

Muster, who has met with neighbors, said that there would be very little traffic impact to the neighborhood from the school. 

“Cars won’t be allowed to park cars in the residential areas during school hours,” he said. “A majority of our students and teachers use public transportation. There won’t be any adverse effects on traffic.” 


Citywide Pools Master Plan 

The community will get a chance to comment at three scheduled meetings on the Citywide Pools Master Plan that is being developed by the city and the school district over the next six months. 

The zoning board will be notified about these meetings on Thursday. 

The master plan—being developed by a 16-member task force, assisted by architecture and pool experts—will address citywide needs and interests related to existing pools and aquatic programs. 

Key topics of the plan include the Warm Water Pool in Berkeley High School’s Old Gym, the existing pools and options for new swim facilities. 

Three community meetings have been scheduled on the following dates: 

• Wed., Oct. 22, 7-9 p.m., Live Oak Recreation Center (Fireside Room), 1301 Shattuck Ave. Topics: Existing Conditions and Community Needs 

• Wed., Nov. 19, 7-9 p.m., Malcolm X Elementary School (Library), 1731 Prince St. Topics: Site Plan Concepts and Preferred Alternatives 

• Wed., Jan. 28, 7-9 p.m., James Kenney Community Center (Community Room), 1720 8th St. Topic: Draft Citywide Pools Master Plan 

For more info, visit: www.ci.berkeley.ca.us/ContentDisplay.aspx?id=28522