August 01, 2012 at 12:26 PM
No time was wasted in starting makeovers – some of them extreme – on various Clovis Unified schools using funding from Measure A, a $298 million school bond the community approved just two months ago in the June 5 election.
On June 11, two days following schools’ closure for summer break, work officially began on projects at eight schools: Cole, Fancher Creek, Liberty, Lincoln, Mountain View, Nelson and Pinedale elementary schools, and Buchanan High. “Each project has some things that were different than the others, but HVAC, electrical, data, fire alarm and site work were the major scopes of work,” said CUSD Director of Construction and Engineering Rick Lawson.
Pinedale Elementary, for example, is undergoing some of the most significant remodeling, renovation and modernization of all the summer projects including all new doors, new walks along each classroom wing, new T-bar ceilings in the classrooms, new flooring, improved storage and shelving, upgrades to the HVAC system, repairs to door hardware, casework and wall finishes, and efficiency improvements in lighting.
The long overdue modernization at Pinedale is very welcome to the school’s staff, students and community, said Principal Allison Hernandez. “Very little has been done inside the classrooms since the 1950s when the school was built,” she said. “The classroom interiors will look brand new after this project is completed. I can’t wait to see the expressions on our students’ faces when they walk in on the first day of school. Pure joy and excitement I am sure.”
All current Measure A-funded projects are on track to be completed Aug. 13. “There will be some punch list items to complete after that date,” said Lawson. “We call this ‘beneficial occupancy,’ meaning we can still have school.”
In addition to moving quickly to improve schools, it is anticipated that the sale of the first series of bonds will take place this week.
The sale comes on the heels of Standard and Poor’s announcement that it would maintain CUSD’s credit rating of AA with a stable outlook. Several days later, on July 26, Moody’s, which had never rated Clovis Unified before, assigned the district an Aa2 rating, a comparably high rating to Standard and Poor’s assessment.
These favorable ratings translate to savings of millions of dollars for local taxpayers realized from lower interest rates.
Measure A will fund projects at every CUSD school over the next six years. During that time, local funds will be used to maintain good neighborhood schools and retain/attract quality teachers by upgrading classrooms, science labs, vocational education opportunities, fire safety systems and libraries; fixing leaking roofs, deteriorating plumbing and bathrooms; ensuring handicapped accessibility; and acquiring sites, constructing and equipping school facilities.
CUSD’s Facilities Services office has worked diligently to develop a timeline for projects that will be done between 2013 and 2018, making sure to capitalize on any additional funding available from the state as schools reach certain ages.
Projects are scheduled based on the following criteria:
- When the school is eligible for state matching funds;
- The availability of funds for facility projects based on the schedule of bond sales;
- Balancing projects across the district’s five high school attendance areas; and
- Addressing access compliance and/or safety issues.
Lawson noted that the design process is nearly complete on scheduled 2013 projects taking place at Clovis and Clovis West high schools and Copper Hills, Fort Washington, Garfield, Gettysburg, Jefferson, Miramonte and Pinedale elementary schools.
“We hope to start construction on these projects before summer next year,” he said. “Four of the sites will continue into the 2014 school year because of major renovations and/or additions.”
Hernandez said she is looking forward to the 2013 Measure A-funded projects planned for Pinedale. “I am really excited about the next phase of this project when our new MPR and kindergarten classrooms will be built,” she said. “Pinedale will look like a new school.”
Funds made possible through Measure A were needed due to Clovis Unified’s steady increase in student enrollment and the aging of its schools. With 60 percent of CUSD schools over 20 years old, and an average exceeding 28 years, the school bond measure will be used in large part to address major maintenance, renovation and repair needs of aging buildings and to create equitable learning environments at new and old schools alike.
It is estimated that all the projects made possible through Measure A could result in as many 5,800 new jobs for the local economy.