As a member of the SAC, Parents’ Association received information from the OCW project manager for the relocation of ESB (13th of April 2021): [read letter]

The Parents’ Association is committed to ensuring all parents are heard and have access to information regarding the future of our school.

As one of the stakeholders in the School Advisory Council (SAC), and in order to fulfil our role as The Voice of The Parents, we wish to collect all your questions and comments on the future location of ESB.

The two bids from Alkmaar and Zaanstad have now been published, please find the links here:

Alkmaar

Zaanstad 

 

Including the Requirements and Wishes given to the municipalities:

Please send your questions about the location bids, written directly in an email (not as attachment) to us at ESBPAfuturelocation@gmail.com.

Important: Please ensure that your questions are in a list/bullet point format and are as concisely written as possible

Parents’ questions will be collected and sent anonymously to the Ministry. We will post the anonymous questions here below and post the answers underneath, as we receive them from the Ministry.

PA Q&A regarding the ESB future

Q1 – answer from Alkmaar:

The noise levels coming from the railway line and the Hertog Aalbrechweg (north side of the plot) are indeed a bit high, but within guidelines. There will be additional research (neccessary for the new zoning plan) to determine the actual noise levels on the front of the building. That way we can ensure that, with the proper insulation, the noise levels within the building, for example the classrooms facing the northside, are so low the students won’t be able to hear the road and railway. They can study undisturbed. The outdoor activities are positioned at the southside of the school, facing the Oudorperpolder. This part of the plot will be shielded from the noise by the school building itself, ensuring a high quality, low noise level outdoor area as well.

 

Q1 – answer from Zaanstad:

In 2020, Zaanstad issued an official recommendation regarding noise levels at the Overtuinen location on Provincialeweg. Ambient noise levels at the location were measured in 2016 and found to be between 50 and 55 db and a part between 55db and 60 db..

Map 1 is the noise map of the school’s location (source: Zaanatlas). As you can see, the dropped pin marking the school’s location is in the green/yellow area and currently already satisfies noise standards. Additionally, planned development means that the area will undergo significant changes in coming years, resulting in a further decrease in noise pollution. See below for more information.

Just like the residential developments that are planned and the school and homes that have already been built further along Provincialeweg, the school is subject to noise regulations. The planned measures mean the Overtuinen location on Provincialeweg will become a quieter environment. The speed limit at Provincialeweg will be downscaled from 70 km/h to 50 km/h. Provincialeweg will also be redesigned as a ‘city street’ (stadsstraat), with separate bike lanes, pavements, trees and greenery. In 2025, the school location will entirely meet noise standards in terms of noise pollution.

Please note: 4 Intercity trains per hour currently stop at Zaandam train station; this will increase to a minimum of 8 Intercity trains and 8 Sprinter trains an hour.

Q1 – answer from Dutch Ministry (OCW):

The new construction must meet the applicable Dutch standards.

 

Q2 – answer from Alkmaar:

Alkmaar already has a bike friendly infrastructure. We are willing to support people to travel to school or work by bicycle, because we endorse the fact that bicycling is a healthy and sustainable way of transport. In order to do so, the city council has adopted a plan (‘Actieplan Fiets 2021-2025’) to further improve the cycling infrastructure and road safety. Our location is easily accessible by bike and the site is adjacent to the main cycle network.

Also, the Alkmaar site is within cycling distance (8 kilometers) of the current location of the European School in Bergen. Therefore it is likely to assume that the current proportion of cycling students and staff would remain to do so.

Because of the central location in the area and the good cycle connection to surrounding cities and living locations, we expect an increasing number of people travelling to the school by bike.

Q2 – answer from Zaanstad:

Considering the current situation, children that now live in and around Bergen and cycle to school will be less likely to do so from 2025, once this would mean cycling to Zaanstad. However, it is the intention for the school to remain in Zaanstad for the longer term. The current situation of children coming to Zaanstad from Bergen will slowly change. In the near future, other children coming from other locations will cycle to the new location of the school, as it is safely accessible for cyclists.

In other words, we understand that cycling to Zaanstad will become difficult for current pupils coming from Bergen and surroundings. But on the other hand, at the moment children coming from Amsterdam, Beverwijk and Zaanstad do not cycle to Bergen. For these children and for future pupils, the location in Zaanstad will open the opportunity to cycle to school from 2025 onwards.

Q2 – answer from Dutch Ministry (OCW):

The current situation of the school building is not sustainable. Pupils derserve a school which meets todays’ educational as well as spatial and technical standards. OCW realizes that the relocation may have a major impact on the pupils and their families that will experience the relocation. Besides the impact on the pupils and their families, OCW has to weigh up a wider range of interests. Depending on the chosen location, there are different consequences for the accesibility of the school for the immediate term and for the long term. For the long term we assume parents will take into account the new location of the European school when choosing a new school for their children. We try our best as much as possible to meet everyones needs – also when the new location is finished in 4-6 years. At the same time, given that there are only two European schools in the Netherlands, it is not possible that each student who wants to make use of this type of school can bike to the school.

Q3 – answer from Dutch Ministry (OCW):

Unfortunately the current situation of the school building is not sustainable. Pupils deserve a school which meets todays’ educational as well as spatial and technical standards. OCW realizes that the relocation may have a major impact on the pupils and their families that will experience the relocation. Besides the impact on the pupils and their families, OCW has to weigh up a wider range of interests. By targeting at a location which is both accessible to EMA and JRC pupils, we aim to built a school that is future proof for the 50 years to come.

Q4 – answer from Dutch Ministry (OCW):

It is not desirable to split the school, because when two schools are created it will be hard – probably for both – to have enough pupils for the minimum of three language sections.

Q5 – answer from Dutch Ministry (OCW):

The current situation of the school building is not sustainable. Pupils deserve a school which meets todays’ educational as well as spatial and technical standards. That is not possible in the current building. It is our aim that relocation will have a positive impact on the vaibility of the school for the coming 50 years. Furthermore, the site agreement does not state that a school near JRC is guaranteed.

Q6 – answer from Dutch Ministry (OCW):

The Ministry is well aware that the relocation may have a major impact on the people who have organized their lives around the school. However the current situation of the school building is not sustainable. The expected completion time for the decision-making, preparation, construction and layout of the new school building, takes approximatelyu 4-6 years. This gives parents time to prepare.

Q7 – answer from Dutch Ministry (OCW):

The aspects that are included in the decision making process are: a financial assessment, a qualitative assessment, the assessment of a possible social plan for employees, location-bound pupil prognoses and the considerations of the SAC, EC, JRC and EMA.

 

Q9 – answer from Dutch Ministry (OCW):

The well-being of the pupils of the school is very important to us. That is the main reason we are investing in a new construction to meet current educational and technical/spatial needs. At the same time, the Ministry is well aware of the impact the relocation may have on peoples lives.

Q12 – answer from Dutch Ministry (OCW):

The well-being of the pupils has a high priority, therefore we are investing in a school building that meets current educational standards as well as spatial and technical needs. An assessment of a possible social plan for employees is part of the decision making process.

Q13 – answer from Zaanstad:

Media coverage of the location proposal have left you with the impression that there is great resistance to the European School locally, and as a result, you are concerned about the pupils’ wellbeing. We deeply regret that you have got this impression and we do not at all recognise our situation in this. As we will summarise below with reference to the facts at hand, the reality is different. In addition, we’d be happy to arrange a personal meeting to present these facts, answer any additional questions you may have and hopefully put your mind at ease. We would also like to invite you to visit the proposed school location and attend a presentation about Zaanstad and the location. You can do this online or in person, combined with a visit to the school location at the city hall of Zaanstad. We hope that you will get to know the Zaanstad that the locals and their children know and love: a city with space to learn and to play, where children can delve into cultural activities, where they can walk from school to the library, to dance lessons, to drama club; where there are sports facilities everywhere and where everyone can get to school safely and easily.

 

A number of facts:

–  Zaanstad city council, which represents all residents of Zaanstad, has agreed with the

proposal of using the Overtuinen location on Provincialeweg for the European School.

–  The location is outstandingly suitable for a school; nearby the city centre, the train and the bus

station, it’s easily accessible and meets all requirements and wishes of the Ministry of

Education, Culture and Science for the European School

–  Part of the Overtuinen location will be used for the development of the European School. The

European School is in line with the Verkadebuurt Urban Development Plan and the plans for varied residential development. The homes that are not being built because of the European School, will be built elsewhere in Zaanstad. This has been considered in the decision-making process. In this way we enable the construction of all planned homes and the European School at the same time.

–  Zaanstad has carefully prepared the proposal for the European School and consulted with a number of important stakeholders. Sound agreements have been made with the relevant education officials and the project developer, taking into account the various interests and respecting all viewpoints.

Again: we would like to invite you to visit to get to know Zaanstad, attend a presentation and visit the school location, so that you can see and experience that not only is the location perfect for the school, but also that Zaanstad is more than ready to welcome all children of the European School.

 

Q13– answer from Dutch Ministry (OCW):

Again, the well-being of the pupils of the school is very important to us. That is the main reason we are investing in a new construction to meet current educational standards and technical/spatial needs. We are currently assessing two locations. Both municipalities are looking forward positively to the arrival of the school. They will do their utmost to maintain a safe and welcoming environment.

Q14 – answer from Zaanstad:

The Municipality of Zaanstad actively involves all residents and other key parties with all development plans, taking into account their questions, ideas and worries. The plans for the European School have been discussed with the Klankbordgroep Verkadebuurt, a local residents’ association, where there was no sign of resistance to the European School.

 

Q14– answer from Dutch Ministry (OCW):

Both municipalities are looking forward positively to the arrival of the school. They will do their utmost to maintain a safe and welcoming environment. If you want to know more about the opinion of the locals, you can contact the municipalities.

Q15– answer from Dutch Ministry (OCW):

The new school location needs to be accessible with different transportation modes. For some that will be the car, for others it will be bus, train or bike. We expect that a substantial part of future staff and pupils will use public transport. Together with a view to sustainability, it is one of the criterion for the new school location.

Q17– answer from Dutch Ministry (OCW):

JRC, just like EMA, may share their viewpoints and concerns with regards to the relocation of the European school.

Q19 – answer from Dutch Ministry (OCW):

The current situation of the school is not sustainable. Pupils derserve a school which meets todays’ educational as well as spatial and technical standards. There are a lot of aspects to consider; including the aim to have a viable future proof school.

Q20 – answer from Zaanstad:

A large number of new homes are to be built in Zaanstad, meeting the full range of housing requirements. This will provide attractive living environments with a mix of homes suitable for different incomes, including family homes with a garden and comfortable apartments in all price ranges. We answered the SAC’s Question 4 on 28-4-2021 as follows: In Zaanstad 24,615 homes are to be built in the period 2020-2050. In the period 2020-2024, 7,806 homes will be built. In the Amsterdam Metropolitan Area 480,000 homes are to be built in the period 2020-2050. In the period 2020-2024, 130,000 homes will be built. In the area Zaanstreek Waterland 43,000 homes to be built between 2020 and 2040 of which 31,000 to be completed by 2030 and 13,000 to be completed by 2025. Thereby we refer you to the website www.plancapaciteit.nl. An up-to-date housing monitor will be published in 2021. The trendline in Zaanstad is rising. This means that both rate of construction and the number of homes is increasing.

The housing market in Zaanstad and Zaanstreek-Waterland is emerging. A growing number of investors are becoming aware of Zaanstad’s qualities and are investing in the housing market. The price per square metre is considerably lower than in Amsterdam which makes the housing market more accessible. The average purchase price per square metre in Zaanstad in the fourth quarter of 2020 was € 3,340 and the average sale price per home was € 317,000. The average purchase price per square meter in Amsterdam in the fourth quarter of 2020 was € 6,570 and the average sale price per home was € 475,000. (Source: Sprekende Cijfers, Housing Markets in Noord-Holland Q4 2020 by estate agent Kuijs Reinder Kakes).

 

For the current range of new-build housing, please see:

www.nieuwwonenzaanstreek.nl
www.amsterdamwoont.nl
For existing housing on the market, please see:
www.funda.nl
For the answer to the last question, we refer you to the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science.

 

Q20 – answer from Dutch Ministry (OCW):

To know more about the Zaanstad housing market, please contact the municipality of Zaanstad. The Ministry takes into account the qualitative assessment, a financial assessment, a possible social plan for employees of the school, a pupil prognoses and the considerations of the School Advisory Council, EMA, JRC and EC.

Q21 – answer from Alkmaar:

Travel times shown in our bidbook apply under average conditions, based on distance and average speed allowed. Travel times may be longer during rush hours. Because of the many factors that can affect traffic, it is hard to provide more detailed information about journey times during rush hours (and pre-Covid times). In general we can state that traffic jams are more likely to occur on the route between the Alkmaar location and EMA (via A9). However, there is a good even as fast alternative route available (via N246) and also the connection by train offers a good alternative. The route between Alkmaar and Petten is mostly free of traffic congestions.

 

Q21 – answer from Zaanstad:

The Ministry of Education, Culture and Science has asked for distances in kilometres to be calculated using the tool freemaptools.com/how-far-is-it-between.htm. However, car journey times can also be determined using other tools, such as the ANWB route planner. The distances and travel times by car are 21.7 km and 21 minutes respectively for EMA, and 47.8 km and 52 minutes for the JRC. In general, there are few traffic jams in the direction of Zaanstad.

To find out whether the Zaanstad area is an interesting residential area in terms of school and travel times to and from work, we recommend the Mapitout tool; https://mapitout.iamsterdam.com/. This tool allows people to see the radius within which they would like to live in relation to school and work.

 

Q21 – answer from Dutch Ministry (OCW):

The accessibility of the locations have been taken into consideration in the assessment of the bids. The addresses of the new locations are in the bid. Everyone can calculate their estimated travel time by any means of transport.

Q22 – answer from Dutch Ministry (OCW):

The current situation of the school is not sustainable. Pupils derserve a school which meets todays’ educational as well as spatial and technical standards. There are a lot of aspects to consider; including the aim to have a viable future proof school. For a more extensive explanation, please see the letter from the 27th of November 2019 to the SAC.

Q23 – answer from Dutch Ministry (OCW):

European schools are founded on the idea to provide education primarily for children of staff of the European institutions (Cat 1). In order to invest in a new school building for this type of school, it is important to have a substantial number of Cat. 1 pupils.

Q24 – answer from Dutch Ministry (OCW):

Determining the number of pupils that can be expected at the relocated European School is a complex issue. Determining what influence the choice of Alkmaar or Zaanstad has on the forecast is even more complex. However we estimate that a more strategic location which is easily accessible by public transport and within reach to both EMA and JRC pupils (within 50 km radius), will have a positive impact on the future viability of the school. Currently a pupil prognoses is being made.

Q27 – answer from Zaanstad:

The distance between the school and the intercity railway and bus stations is mentioned on page 12 of the bid book. The distance is 850 meters and is a 10-minute walk. The school location is part of a large development area, Overtuinen, and is accessible via Provincialeweg. The safe walking and cycling route to and from the station is included on page 13 of the bid book. The pedestrian crossings on this route are zebra crossings with traffic lights. Provincialeweg is to be redesigned. We answered the SAC’s Question 1 on 28-4-2021 as follows: The planned measures mean the Overtuinen location on Provincialeweg will become a quieter environment. The speed limit at Provincialeweg will be downscaled from 70 km/h to 50 km/h. Provincialeweg will also be redesigned as a ‘city street’ (stadsstraat), with separate bike lanes, pavements, trees and greenery. Below is a map showing the route from the station to the school site and an artist impression of the Verkadebuurt development. The green area is the proposed site of the European School including the facilities.

Q27 – answer from Dutch Ministry (OCW):

This is not correct. Please see the answer of Zaanstad.

Q29 – answer from Dutch Ministry (OCW):

The dutch government is paying for the construction of the building.

Financial aspects of the school will be addressed together with the decision for relocation in the Board of Governors.

Q30 – answer from Zaanstad:

The parking facilities are included on page 19 of the bid book under requirement 4d. The school site is part of a large development area, Overtuinen. This will be designed in accordance with the Verkadebuurt urban development plan and connected to Provincialeweg. In the Overtuinen development area, the housing will be built with a mixture of owner-occupied homes and rental homes both in the social and private sector. Residents will have parking facilities on private property. For the European School, 25 parking spaces can be realised within a radius of 250 meters from the school. There are various parking solutions in the area that guarantee a safe route and availability at the indicated times.

A quiet residential area will be developed on the north side of the school site. Around 80 parking spaces will be realised here within a radius of 250 metres from the school site in public space, in addition to the parking spaces for residents on private property. Traffic lights will be installed at the pedestrian crossing on the yet to be constructed Verkadeweg. In addition to street parking, it is also possible to opt to construct a parking facility. For example, a parking garage could be built beneath the sports facility.

 

Q30 – answer from Dutch Ministry (OCW):

This aspect has been taken into account in the assessment.

Q32 – answer from Zaanstad:

Page 30 of the bid book indicates a starting date in mid-2021. This is based on combining the changes in the zoning plan which is necessary for the housing to be constructed in the Verkadebuurt and the adjacent location of the European School in a single procedure. The schedule of the bidding process has been pushed back by the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science and it is clear that the Board of Governors will make a decision on the location in December 2021. We will therefore schedule the zoning plan procedure in accordance with this date. Much of the necessary action to assess the suitability of the site and to prepare the zoning plan procedure has already been taken. The following research has already been carried out in preparation for the zoning plan amendment:

–  Soil survey

–  Air quality survey

–  Nitrogen emissions test

–  Ecological study

–  Traffic study

–  External safety study

–  Archaeological study

–  Acoustic study

–  Sustainable Urbanisation Ladder

–  Draft zoning plan for Verkadebuurt

 

These studies are in relation to:

–  The Verkadebuurt urban development plan. The location for the development of the European School and sports facilities are in accordance with this.

–  The construction of different types of homes. This means that the location must meet the most stringent requirements. The existing studies and the draft zoning plan will be revised on the basis of the school and the facilities.

Q32 – answer from Dutch Ministry (OCW):

Like stated before, our timeline depeents on the timeline of the BoG.

Q33 – answer from Zaanstad:

The bid book Boundless opportunities for the European School. Zaanstad. Where else states on page 28 under Wish 4: Childcare services are located near the school. Childcare organizations in the Zaanstad area – Freekids, Babino, Tinteltuin, and Het Boefje – are independent, professional, high- quality organizations with extensive childcare experience. They can take care of children at their own centres near to the European School. They are also experienced when it comes to setting up childcare centres in schools. If the European School and a childcare organization establish a formal relationship, discussions can take place on the opening of a childcare centre inside the school. So several high- quality childcare centres in Zaanstad are keen to collaborate with the European School. These centres are in the vicinity of the school, in a situation comparable to that of the school’s current location in Bergen. At present the children also attend childcare centres at several locations in the area around the school. Since the buildings on the school site can be extended by 3,500 m2 GFA, there is more than enough space, and the school can choose to offer childcare at the location itself. Since the relationship between the school and childcare organization is important, Zaanstad has opted not to put forward a single provider. Zaanstad has found several providers willing to cooperate with the school in the provision of childcare at the school itself or in the vicinity. The European School is free to choose the partner it finds most appropriate. The childcare organizations recognize the importance of good cooperation and are keen to discuss this with the school.

 

Q33 – answer from Dutch Ministry (OCW):

This aspect is part of the assessment.

Q34 – answer from Zaanstad:

Sport is important for all Zaanstad’s residents, and this also applies to pupils who go to school in the city. Zaanstad provides indoor and outdoor sports facilities throughout the city, as well as on the grounds adjacent to the European School site. This is included in the bid book on pages 16 and 17. In consultation with the European School, these sports facilities can be designed to accommodate many outdoor sports, such as tennis and football, as well as the usual indoor sports. The sports facilities will be equipped with showers and changing rooms.

Below is an overview of all the sports facilities in Zaanstad. In addition to those adjacent to the school, the sports facilities nearest to the school location are the athletics track (1.2 km or four minutes by bicycle from the school), the future Hoornseveld sports complex, with a swimming pool (3 km or 12 minutes by bicycle from the school), and Topsportcentrum De Koog, with a swimming pool (3.5 km or 14 minutes by bicycle from the school).

The new Hoornseveld sports complex will be suitable for all outdoor sports. In addition, the swimming pool Zwembad De Slag will also be built here. See the artist’s impression in the illustration below. Construction will be completed in 2023.

Topsportcentrum De Koog, completed in 2016, is a multifunctional sports complex with several sports halls and adjacent outdoor sports facilities. Top athletes train here, and international competition matches are played. The sports hall can accommodate 1,200 visitors.
Sports that can be provided here are basketball, handball, hockey, badminton, korfball, volleyball, football, martial arts, defensive sports, twirling, wheelchair sports, gymnastics and yoga. Next to the sports hall, the De Zaangolf swimming pool was built in 2016. In addition to a recreation pool, De Zaangolf is also a competition pool. All indoor sports facilities are managed by Sportbedrijf Zaanstad.

Q34 – answer from Dutch Ministry (OCW):

This aspect is part of the assessment.

Q35 – answer from Zaanstad:

Zaanstad understands that the relocation of the school is challenging and that many different factors are involved. We are very happy to share ideas. To meet the school’s needs, we could consider temporary accommodation before the school is able to open the permanent new school building at the intended location. The location for the permanent new school building at the Overtuinen location in the bid book is very much a concrete proposal. Temporary accommodation in Zaanstad is negotiable so that the European School can start in Zaanstad in the short term, if desired. This is included on page 30 of the bid book.

 

Q35 – answer from Dutch Ministry (OCW):

It is a concrete bid.

Q36 – answer from Alkmaar:

No this is not the purpose. We trust that good (after-school) childcare will be chosen in collaboration with the European School. Yes there will be good afterschool care.

 

Q36 – answer from Dutch Ministry (OCW):

Please find the answer to this question on page 96 of the bid of Alkmaar. Specific questions about AllesKits can be addressed to the municipality of Alkmaar.

ESB PA Working Group

We have establisihed a working group of parents committed to ensuring parents are heard and have access to information regarding this important process. Do you have a question? Please contact our ESB Future Working Group! You can use the contact form below, or email us directly at ESBPAfuturelocation@gmail.com.

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Nicole GottholdESB School Future Q&A