Following a donation from a concerned neighbor and large grant approved by the city, Everett Middle School is slated to spend nearly $3 million on a makeover of its schoolyard.
The school will receive around $1 million from its neighbor, as well as more than $1.87 million to build out its stormwater infrastructure. The latter comes from one of the six green infrastructure grants handed out by the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission for the fall of 2022. Everett has two acres available for the project — the largest space of the six grantees — and received the largest grant in the $7.25 million cycle.
A Public Utilities Commission report estimates Everett will manage more than one million gallons of stormwater each year.
Everett parent and stormwater engineer Robert Dusenbury said he learned about the grant program and suggested it to the school’s principal last fall.
Around the same time that the school won the grant, a neighborhood benefactor came forward with about $1 million for schoolyard improvements. Dusenbury called it a “happy coincidence.” The donor had apparently seen children huddled in the limited shady areas during a heat wave.
“There’s just so much asphalt back there,” said Dusenbury, who has two children attending Everett. “I was aware of the need.”
Currently, Everett’s backyard is a massive concrete lot, with few trees and no grass, which spans in length nearly the entire block between 16th and 17th streets. The grant funds will be used for this yard and an inner courtyard. Project proposals show new trees, landscaping and bioretention areas that will use soil and vegetation to treat stormwater.
About 520 students attend Everett, 75 percent of whom are Latinx. As one of the city’s main destinations for “newcomer” students, nearly half of the school’s population are English learners.
The school has faced challenges in the past with inconsistent staffing and violence. Currently, almost 60 percent of the students’ families are struggling financially, and almost 10 percent of the students are experiencing homelessness.
It is unclear whether the million-dollar donation could be used for other needs at the school, now that funding for the yard is plentiful.
Everett principal Alicia Blacknell and San Francisco Unified School District spokesperson Laura Dudnick told Mission Local that the school is still deciding how the funds for the yard will be used. Four other SFUSD schools were also approved for grants, including Buena Vista Horace Mann K-8, Visitacion Valley Elementary and El Dorado Elementary.
“Everett is grateful for the generous donation that will go toward improvements to its school yard,” Dudnick said, adding that “the school is in the beginning stages of planning for these improvements.”
After a community-based outreach process, Dusenbury said that engineers from his private company, Lotus Water, will work on the project.