Classrooms needed to hold projected growth

By Nancy Gutierrez

At a special meeting of the Lindsay Unified School District board on April 19, members were presented with plans for the expansion and remodernization of the school district, and the changes that would have to be made to complete this considerable and needed endeavor.

A timeline provided at the meeting listed the dates of major projects. In April 2004 the district will install security cameras using funding from a no interest loan. In May the high school gym will be reroofed and have a heating and ventilation air conditioning unit installed, using money received form the bond measure. In June Washington Elementary School will be repainted using bond money. In September construction on a central kitchen for the district will start. LUSD will use money from the no interest loan for that project. Also in September LUSD, with help from matching city funds, will begin building a multi-use facility at Washington School. A series of modernization projects which involves upgrading school facilities will begin in October at Jefferson and Washington and moving to LHS in December. Plans for 2006 include designing a multi-use facility for Jefferson and possibly the construction of a new high school.

In order to make these changes the district is looking to apply for financial hardship status. Ken Reynolds, the president of facility problem solvers out of Sacramento, presented the board with positive and negative aspects of having financial hardship status. In hardship the district would be provided more state funding than standard projects, but the amount of money spent on projects is limited by the state. Less local funds are used however only projects approved as eligible by the state can be done. For example the high school gym would not be eligible for state money provided through hardship. Hardship funds must be used to build classrooms. But reynolds said the bottom line is that the district has facility needs and has not been able to arrange funding to fill requests.

The district has met all but one of the qualifications for hardship. The last hurdle involves raising developer fees to the maximum amount possible. Any development that occurs withing the district is subject to a fee per square foot of construction. Currently the fee for residential development is $2.24 per square foot. At the April 26 meeting the board decided to raise the developer fee to the maximum which is $3.74 per square foot.

The district is looking at a large increase in student population in the coming years. Assistant Superintendent Andrew Bukosky said between now and 2009 many of the sites will experience a large increase in students numbers. Washington has a projected growth of 180 additional students. Jefferson is projected to increase by 180 students. Lincoln is projected at an increase of 60 students. Finally LHS is projected to grow by 125 students.

Superintendent Janet Kliegl said in order to accommodate the increase more classrooms will be needed. A new high school is also needed. Once it is built the district is looking to turn the previous high school campus into a junior high school and make Steve Garvey Junior High into another elementary school.

"Jefferson's cafeteria was built to hold 300 students and there are 700 going through 4 lunch hours," Kliegl said.

The school bond passed by the city will provide the district with 7.2 million. The board created a list of projects it intended to complete using a combination of funding that included the bond. In the list all classrooms needed classrooms modernized, health and safety improvements, and renovation of the HVAC systems. With the exception of Lincoln School, each site needed to repair or rebuild roofing, paint exteriors, upgrade existing plumbing and bathrooms and or construct additional restrooms, make health and safety improvements, and finally construct new bathrooms to replace portables.

Garvey, built in 1937, also needed new science buildings, a new multipurpose room, and permanent music rooms.

Jefferson, built in 1950, also needs its electrical system upgraded to accommodate computers and modern technology.

For Lindsay High School, built in 1965, the board hoped to construct new science rooms, build a new library, add permanent music rooms, repair and renovate the asphalt and concrete and upgrade electrical systems to accommodate computers and modern technology.

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