A task force aimed at helping address projected overcrowding in Sequoia Union High School District schools is recommending a bond measure with a potential total of $225 million for a wide range of facility changes.
The district is in the process of conducting a poll to explore the feasibility of floating a ballot measure in June or November of this year. Godbe Research, a consulting firm, is currently polling about 800 residents, asking questions about whether they would support a bond measure to address facilities needs. The 15-minute interview gages how much the resident knows about the facilities needs, their interests and priorities. Potential tax rates being proposed to those polled range from $10 to $14 per $100,000 of assessed property value.
“One of the messages that came through is we should go out for what we need,” said Allen Weiner, board president and task force member. “We have to be a little realistic and do what we think the public is prepared to support.”
Superintendent Jim Lianides’ facilities task force found that the district will see an increase of about 1,547 students by the 2020-21 school year, 840 students above the projected numbers in a prior study. The projected number now totals 10,836 students. The district has been considering boundary changes as well to help combat this growth.
“There’s a lot of enthusiasm,” Weiner said. “It’s a big challenge, but it’s a wonderful opportunity for facilities upgrades and building classrooms for 21st-century learning.”
One of the biggest costs of the changes, second to miscellaneous districtwide facility updates, would be adding two small themed schools of 300-400 students to the district for a total of $62.4 million. Fifty-three new classrooms are needed, the task force found. This is in addition to the five new classrooms scheduled to open in fall 2016 at Menlo-Atherton High School. It should also be noted that to meet the projected additional classrooms at Carlmont and Menlo-Atherton high schools, the district will need to build two-story facilities. This will require replacing existing one-story classroom wings, the report stated. Menlo-Atherton, which is expected to grow the most, will cost about $38.3 million to renovate, the group estimated.
The board even discussed the idea of creating two and a half new schools by reworking the continuation school Redwood High School program and moving it to another location. The district needs to make sure it thoroughly looks at reevaluating the program there, said Trustee Alan Sarver, also a task force member.
“We’re very excited,” Sarver said. “This is obviously a very challenging time and a time of transformation for the district. We’re building for the future around great programs, not just merely building.”
Still, Trustee Carrie Du Bois again expressed a bit of concern that the changes should be more program driven.
The task force also advised to add more restrooms, administration, counseling, student services and food service stations, parking improvements, new multi-purpose rooms and gyms to schools since space is becoming limited for sports. The two gyms would each cost an estimated $6.3 million. Recommendations also include energy efficiency measures, technology upgrades and equipment refreshes, food service/cafeteria upgrades and additional improvements to sports fields and facilities that includes installing synthetic turf since increased demand will mean high maintenance in upkeep of grass fields.
The poll results should be revealed at an early February board meeting.
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