• Building on our tradition of academic excellence that has been established over the School’s 135-year history, the South Campus Plan will give our students and teachers new innovative, multi-disciplinary, K-12 classrooms designed for STEM, makerspaces and hands-on experiential learning. Head-Royce School will expand by providing eight acres of lightly developed property with wooded areas, mature trees and inviting open fields for outdoor learning, becoming a 22-acre contiguous campus. The South Campus will include the renovation of three 1920s Spanish-style buildings into 25,000 square feet of cutting-edge, STEM-oriented K-12 classroom space, as well as a new Performing Arts Center adding an additional 12,000 square feet. The project also allows us to address traffic and safety concerns by moving car drop-off/pick-up off Lincoln Avenue onto a new loop driveway encircling the South Campus.

    At the same time, we’ll preserve the qualities that have defined Head-Royce throughout our rich history—including our small class sizes and our student-centered, whole-child philosophy. Finally, the plan allows us to slowly expand our total school population over a 20-year period, thereby enabling us to expand scholarship opportunities to well-deserving students of all financial backgrounds.

  • The City of Oakland released a Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR) on the proposed Head-Royce School South Campus Plan for public comment in November 2021. This independent analysis was developed by the City and a team of environmental consultants with a wide range of expertise. The document analyzed what, if any, project environmental impacts exist, and made recommendations on how to mitigate those impacts. The city hosted two public hearings at the Landmark Preservation Advisory Board and the Planning Committee in 2021 before the public comment period closed in December 2021. 


    The plan’s lengthy Final Environmental Impact Report (FEIR) was released in February 2023. Following its release, the Head-Royce South Campus Plan went before the Landmarks Preservation Advisory Board on March 6 where it received unanimous support to be moved forward.


    On April 19, the Planning Commission voted to certify the project’s FEIR and grant final project approval. The project was subsequently appealed, a common occurrence for real estate projects in California. 


    On September 19, the Oakland City Council denied the appeal and unanimously supported the Planning Commission’s decision, paving the way for the school to break ground.

  • Traffic and parking improvements have been informed directly by the feedback we received from our community and developed in consultation with several traffic experts, including those advising the City of Oakland. Student drop-off and pick-up will be greatly enhanced by a new loop driveway encircling the new South Campus, 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 series of signalized pedestrian crossings between the north and south sides of campus will safely allow students, staff and neighbors to cross Lincoln Avenue, much like other “campus” projects in Oakland such as Children’s Hospital. In the future, a pedestrian tunnel may provide the added convenience of a below-grade option for the campus community.

  • A pleasant change from most school construction projects, the majority of construction will occur across the street with minimal disruption to our current operations. With four large construction campus expansions since the 1990s, we are confident that we can maintain a positive school experience even in the midst of a major construction project. 

  • 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 exceptional educational opportunities: 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 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 skill sets in novel ways while developing real-world problem-solving capabilities.

  • No. The cost of the project will be borne by a fundraising capital campaign—the largest campaign in the School’s history which concluded in December 2022—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. As part of our application to the city, we have requested permission to expand our student enrollment. The gradual addition of 344 students over a 20-year period will create significant new student scholarships, simultaneously expanding access to Head-Royce and increasing funding for well-deserving students of all financial backgrounds.

  • 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 a 20-year period, 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 9th-12th grade student body would enhance the student experience through more academic choice, and social and athletic opportunities.

  • No new athletic space is planned. 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 in the spring of 2022, we completed a makeover of the athletics field on our main campus with the installation of a synthetic turf field.

  • The South Campus site has been used as a location for educating children for nearly 100 years, for many of them as a residential facility for children with severe challenges. The site will now be used primarily during the day only for educational purposes. And with lightly developed landscaping to enhance the native trees, the South Campus will offer a park-like setting to the Head-Royce community and neighbors alike.


    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 World War II, 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 1961 and—by the end of the 1960s—it 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, Head-Royce purchased the site from Lincoln Child Center. After the sale, Lincoln Child Center leased back the site from Head-Royce, continuing its operations until 2017, when it vacated the campus entirely and relocated its facilities to West Oakland.

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


    Throughout the planning process, Head-Royce has made sure to keep neighbors informed of project updates and incorporate feedback voiced by the surrounding community into the South Campus Plan. Head-Royce’s engagement efforts have included hosting a number of meetings with neighbors, distributing email blasts that detail project information and updates as well as the creation of the Framing Our Future website, which houses all information related to the South Campus.

  • 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 FEIR 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 FEIR’s conclusions point to the thoughtfulness and care that went into developing this proposal. Learn more about the FEIR’s key findings here. 

    The new Loop Driveway will alleviate the largest neighborhood disruption — parent pick-up and drop-off that slows traffic on Lincoln Avenue. The FEIR also stipulates that the School adopt a revised Transportation Policy Guide to help ensure that the Loop Driveway is used as intended and that traffic no longer spills over into the neighborhood.

  • 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 Center, does not exceed the height of current structures. 

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

  • 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. Operational noise impacts from school activities have been determined to and will continue to comply with Oakland’s Noise Ordinance, and will end by 9:00 pm to ensure evening disturbances are limited.

  • Currently, 25% of our Head-Royce student body receives need-based tuition assistance and we anticipate maintaining or even increasing this ratio over time. The South Campus Plan will allow us to have nearly 100 new permanent student scholarships, making the Head-Royce experience accessible to deserving students  from all socioeconomic backgrounds.


    Additionally, we will be able to increase enrollment of Heads Up, a 35-year-old tuition-free program that provides first-generation college bound students of color from Oakland public schools with challenging and enriching programming to cultivate socially responsible leaders.

  • The team has thoughtfully proposed a campus design which aims to preserve and enhance the California ecosystem by protecting the existing healthy native trees and replacing dying and/or non-native trees with native species. The plan will protect in place approximately 190 native trees, and relocate 20 small native trees including significant protection for seven mature 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. 

  • No historic buildings will be demolished. The Oakland Cultural Heritage Survey does not identify the former Lincoln Child Center campus as a “historic district.” This was echoed by the FEIR. 


    In response to comments about historic preservation, the project plans have been updated to now include the retention of the original windows on Building 0 and the removal of the ADA ramps at Building 2. While neither is required to mitigate a significant impact, further inspection revealed that these changes are doable and in keeping with best practices in historic preservation.

  • The South Campus is designated for institutional uses in the City’s General Plan. The institutional land use classification is intended to “create, maintain and enhance areas appropriate for educational facilities, cultural and institutional uses.” The project is in keeping with the site’s historic use as an educational facility. 

  • The City of Oakland’s FEIR confirmed that the project will result in a less than significant impact on wildfire risk, and in fact, will decrease risk. The exposure of risk from wildfires is not only mitigated through several measures but the overall safety of the community and School will be significantly enhanced. To learn more about the South Campus Plans wildfire mitigation measures, click here

  • The South Campus expansion will incorporate several mitigation measures to reduce wildfire risk including:

    • Providing a higher level of vegetation management than what is required under current City standards, thereby reducing the potential of embers being developed, further increasing the wildfire resilience of the community. 
    • Removing dead and dying trees near existing and planned structures and planting new fire-safe landscaping. 
    • Providing more unvegetated open space, roadways and pathways than currently exist, creating expansive fire breaks.  
    • Installing modern fire protection systems in existing buildings included in the expansion.   
    • Using fire-resistive construction materials as required by the California Building and Fire Codes in the construction of new and renovated buildings.

    To learn more about the South Campus Plans wildfire mitigation measures, click here.

  • Should a PSPS occur on campus, the School will be closed for instruction during the shutdown period and no students will be allowed on campus. If the shutdown occurs while the School is in session, the Head of School will make a determination about the remainder of the school day.

  • In the event of a wildfire in the area, parents will be instructed not to come to campus and instead to either wait for the immediate danger to subside while students shelter in place on campus, or to reunify with their student(s) in one of two offsite locations if the decision is made to evacuate the campus (most likely on foot). This will allow first responders better access to streets surrounding the School and ensures optimal vehicular evacuation of the neighborhood in a wildfire.

  • No, the South Campus Plan will not exacerbate the chances of a landslide. The FEIR confirmed that the project would not result in on- or off-site landslides, lateral spreading, subsidence or collapse.

  • The City of Oakland released its Final Environmental Impact Report (FEIR) in February 2023. A hearing at the Landmarks Preservation Advisory Board followed in March 2023, with the project receiving a unanimous positive recommendation. On April 19, 2023, the Planning Commission voted unanimously to certify the project’s FEIR and grant project approval. The project was subsequently appealed, a common occurrence for real estate projects in California—and will now be considered by the City Council on September 19, when the Council will render a final decision.

“A small group of thoughtful people could change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

Margaret Mead