Almanac

News - December 28, 2011

Woodside school board previews $5.4 million upgrade

by Barbara Wood

Woodside Elementary School's campus needs $5.4 million of work with another $827,000 in projects, such as installing solar panels, considered lower priority, the one-school district's board learned at its recent meeting.

Board members asked the consultants, who have spent three months putting together a list of items that need to be addressed on the campus, to return in January with a timetable that shows how quickly projects must be undertaken.

Bruce Thompson, former superintendent of the district, acted as a consultant on preparing a facilities master plan working with BFGC-IBI Group Architecture Planning and other consultants.

Among the top projects on the list are shoring up the eroding bank of the creek that runs behind the campus, and replacing and repairing the roofs of a number of campus buildings.

The creek project may not be able to wait, Mr. Thompson and consultant Jeff Lea of Lea and Braze Engineering told the board, because wet weather may cause further erosion. The erosion is threatening some of the school's playing fields.

Mr. Lea said the best solution appears to be "stitch piers" that would be drilled into the ground next to creek banks to prevent further erosion. The piers would probably cost $100,000, which is about $50,000 less than had been estimated for the repairs, and because they are not in the creek would not require outside government agency approvals.

At the Dec. 7 meeting, the board unanimously approved spending $6,250 to hire a soils consultant needed to begin the repair project. How to pay for the actual repairs is unknown, however. "I'm not sure we have $100,000," said Wendy Crandall, who was elected board president by board members earlier in the day.

One item on the list that drew comments from the audience was $1.23 million to pay for a new classroom for the campus preschool. The preschool is tuition-based. Robin Wasco, the district's chief business official, said that while the preschool pays the district for use of the facilities, the district does not make any money from it. "Our preschool program's financial goal is to break even, after paying salaries, benefits, supplies, and overhead," she said after the meeting.

Other items on the facilities master plan are:

• $981,000 for roof replacements, maintenance and repairs.

• $573,000 for security improvements, including $235,000 for a camera system and $44,900 for additional lighting on the campus.

• $338,800 for items needed to comply with state and federal laws, including $126,000 for gas shutoff valves.

• $616,400 for repairs to Sellman Auditorium, which was completely renovated in 2002 at a cost of $1.5 million.

• $198,000 to replace and upgrade the school's intercom and phone system.

• $46,000 to replace school clocks with satellite clocks.

• $597,713 to install solar panels and upgrade buildings to house them. Mr. Thompson said this project may end up costing only half this much as costs are falling.

The board has not yet figured out how the repairs and improvements will be paid for, but is keeping the possibility of asking voters to approve a bond measure. If a bond measure is approved, the district can be paid back for some improvements already made.

The facilities plan will be back before the board at its Jan. 17 meeting, although an emergency meeting may be necessary before that to approve funds for immediate creek repairs.

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