With construction underway on a new Foster City elementary school, San Mateo-Foster City Elementary School District officials are turning their focus to a second round of construction programs promised under the Measure X bond.
The district Board of Trustees started laying the groundwork for addressing the additional classrooms and facilities planned at elementary and middle school campuses, as well as a new school in San Mateo’s North Central neighborhood.
Board President Shara Watkins said the discussion Thursday, Oct. 24, served as a chance for officials to examine the scope of planned work needing to be carried out, as well as other capital projects which deserve attention.
The discussion arrived as officials turn their focus away from the first phase of projects initiated with a portion of the $148 million in bond money generated by voters approving the measure in 2015.
In the initial round of work, officials allocated approximately $76 million to construct new gyms and classrooms at Bayside Academy as well as Borel and Abbott middle schools plus a central focus — the new Foster City elementary school.
With all those project underway and about $72 million remaining, officials will look to build new classrooms and facilities at Bowditch Middle School as well as George Hall and Sunnybrae elementary schools while also plotting a path for constructing the new North Central neighborhood campus expected to accommodate 250 students.
For her part, Watkins expressed confidence sufficient funds remain to address a majority of the construction, while noting the district remained within budget expectations for the first round of building.
Before work can begin on the classroom projects though, Watkins said more work will be needed to assure the enrollment projections made when the bond was passed are still accurate.
“I think we just want to make sure, if the projections have changed, that we are being smart about our building,” she said. A district report suggests more specific information for those sites should be available in the spring.
Looking ahead, she said more thorough analysis will be required to ensure the design of the new North Central school is planned in a fashion which sets it up for success. As part of that effort, she said officials will host another study session soon to begin focusing specifically on the school.
“It requires a little more discussion in terms of how folks on the board and community feel at this time about fulfilling that promise to the North Central community,” he said.
Also as part of the discussion around facilities, Watkins said officials examined the former Knolls school campus to determine the costs associated with bringing the site up to code.
Watkins said no specific uses have been identified for the former elementary campus shuttered in 1989, but officials felt the time is right to begin looking at the possibilities.
As part of the broader effort to analyze district properties, Watkins said officials are also revisiting the facilities master plan with an eye toward capital improvements which may be necessary down the road.
She said administrators are expected to begin reaching out to individual sites to get a sense of which projects may need attention, with a focus on modernizing and updating campuses.
Beyond that, Watkins said it is reasonable to expect officials will begin readying the process for another bond measure needed to address additional areas of concern — such as antiquated HVAC systems.
“If we want to address anything else, that is what we will need to do,” said Watkins. “We will need to go out for another bond.”
Watkins said she expects conversations around facility needs will carry on through the early part of 2020, with potential to initiate polling to gauge community appetite for another tax next year.
“The reality is our facilities in our district are aging,” she said. “They are old and there are a lot of needs.”
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