Trustees approve $50 million in Measure G projects | March 29, 2013 | Mountain View Voice | Mountain View Online |

Mountain View Voice

News - March 29, 2013

Trustees approve $50 million in Measure G projects

Crittenden, Graham middle schools will get auditoriums, other upgrades

by Nick Veronin

The Mountain View Whisman School District has a rough outline of how it will spend the first $50 million of its $198 million Measure G school bond.

At a March 21 meeting, the board approved a list of 13 priority projects to be built at the district's two middle schools — Crittenden and Graham — including technology and data infrastructure overhauls, an auditorium at each site, new classrooms and various other improvements to be made to school buildings and the surrounding grounds. The budget for all 13 projects is $25 million at each site.

Trustees Ellen Wheeler, Bill Lambert and Chris Chiang voted in favor of the list. Trustee Steven Nelson abstained; he later said he was not entirely happy with the list, but not entirely opposed to it, either. Trustee Phil Palmer was absent.

The district staff will now work on the design phase of the projects.

Superintendent Craig Goldman said he hopes to be able to collect feedback on preliminary design sketches from interested parties — such as parents, teachers, city officials and community members — before the end of the school year. For example, the superintendent said, as the district works with architects in planning the auditoriums, they will meet with teachers and other staff members involved in the performing arts at Crittenden and Graham, as well as with local organizations like Peninsula Youth Theater, which may wish to use the schools' facilities in the future. The district will also invite neighbors of the schools to share concerns they may have about noise from construction and impacts on traffic around the campuses.

He said the district is aiming to present firm design plans to the board of trustees by August. The bulk of the projects aren't likely to begin until summer 2014.

In addition to construction of the auditoriums, some of the larger projects will include major upgrades to physical education facilities at Crittenden, the construction of at least eight new classrooms across the two campuses, and the renovation of existing classrooms to better equip them for the instruction of science, technology, engineering and math — collectively referred to as STEM subjects.

Nelson's concerns

Trustee Nelson did not have a conflict of interest that prevented him from casting a vote. He abstained to signal his belief that the list needs more fine-tuning, he said — particularly in the areas of the technology and infrastructure project and the two auditorium projects. He said he supports the remaining 11 projects.

"I'm not against technology; I'm not against performing arts," Nelson said after the meeting. Rather, he is concerned that not enough money is being allocated to the technology and data infrastructure improvements project, and he isn't convinced that new auditoriums are the only way to make needed improvements to performing arts facilities at the schools, he said.

Preliminary cost estimates provided by the district-hired project manager allot $500,000 to each school site for new technology and data infrastructure. Both Nelson and Chiang questioned whether that would be enough, noting that technology is constantly changing.

Initial estimates put the cost of each school auditorium at around $6.65 million. Explaining his concerns to the Voice, Nelson noted that many Crittenden students who spoke before the vote on the priorities list advocated better rehearsal spaces on campus — something that doesn't appear to be included in the auditorium project.

Nelson admitted that he failed to effectively communicate his wish to set the two projects aside and vote on the other 11. In the run-up to the vote, he moved that the board consider the 13 items individually so that certain items could be held back for more fine-tuning. The motion, which drew somewhat perplexed stares from some on the board, received no second, and the board approved the list.

Measure G projects and their costs

The MVWSD board of trustees approved this list of 13 priority projects to be built at the district's two middle schools. The district plans to spend $25 million on each school site, for a grand total of $50 million. Below is the estimated costs per school site of the 13 projects, along with a $1.25 million reserve fund set aside for budget overages.

Furniture, fixtures and equipment -- $750,000

Maintenance projects -- $1.5 million

Technology and data infrastructure -- $500,000

Auditorium -- $6.65 million

Modernize classrooms, including STEM labs -- $5.275 million

Pedestrian Safety and Parking -- $1 million

Physical Education Requirements (track, field, etc...) -- $1.75 million

Security upgrades -- $325,000

Outdoor improvements -- $1 million

Kitchen Upgrades -- $600,000

Reconfigure Library -- $900,000

Restrooms -- $1.5 million

Additional classrooms -- $2 million

Program reserve fund -- $1.25 million


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