By Scott Turnbull, Superintendent Soquel Unified Elementary School District
“All fine architectural values are human values, else not valuable.”
— Frank Lloyd Wright (Well-known American Architect)
Measure C is the $42 Million General Obligation Bond approved by the community in November 2016. Our district is incredibly grateful for the opportunity the voters have granted us to provide our students the modern classrooms they deserve.
We are approximately one-and-a-half years into the program and are proud to report that we are on-point with all program goals at this juncture.
I’m going to take this month’s article as an opportunity to let you know about what has been accomplished so far, current projects, and projected timelines for the future related to Measure C. I’ll also attempt to provide some clarity on the differentiation between Measure C Projects and the master planning process.
Accomplishments Thus Far
Measure C funds allowed us to install new playgrounds at each of our three elementary school sites (Soquel, Main Street, and Santa Cruz Gardens) last summer. Other projects we have accomplished this school year are listed below:
- Demolished the old warehouse at Soquel Elementary
- Placed interim housing on Soquel Elementary, old portable classrooms have been vacated
- Installed two state-of-the-art interactive televisions at each school site as part of a pilot program
- Added Chromebook Carts moving closer to desired 1:1 student to computer ratio in grades 3-8
- Improved technology infrastructure district-wide for better and more reliable network access
- Put a safety badging program in place to identify every construction worker
Projects & Timelines
Over the next sixteen months, we will be replacing all thirty-nine district portables with modern classrooms. We are working hard to stay on schedule to have all the new rooms ready for the first day of school in August of 2019.
You will start seeing all the items typically associated with large-scale construction projects. For example, you will see that outlines for the new buildings are now staked out on our campuses. Temporary construction fencing will be installed to create a work area separate from students. Once all of the site work, or prep work, is completed we will enter into the most intense stretch of the Measure C Program, and that’s constructing the new classrooms.
While some of this work can be done off-site, there will still be a period at each site with construction crews on the ground. Below is an overview of the actual construction schedule at each school in sequential order of when the building will start:
- Santa Cruz Gardens: The four new classrooms on this site will be constructed from May 2018 through January 2019.
- Soquel Elementary: Construction of the new two-story classroom building will take place May 2018 through April 2019 and will include eleven new classrooms, a new student restroom, and a new staff restroom.
- New Brighton: Construction of nine new classrooms will take place June 2018 through December 2018. The new PE Classroom & Locker Rooms will be constructed May 2018 through August 2019. Construction on the new building for Wood Shop, Science and Art will occur June 2018 through August 2019.
- Main Street: Building of the new two-story building (eleven classrooms) will take place from June 2018 through June of 2019. Main Street will also see some interim housing go up this summer.
The big picture goal for all Measure C Projects is to have them ready for the start of school in the fall of 2019. In the final months of summer in 2019, all of the finish work will be the focus to be ready for the opening of the 2019-2020 school year.
We know there will be some inconveniences along the way that we can’t avoid, but we are doing everything in our power to limit the impact of construction on teaching and learning. Typical weather patterns have been accounted for in the construction schedule. Extreme or atypical weather is a scheduling variable obviously outside of our control.
Master Planning vs. Measure C
The last thought I wanted to leave you with is a clarification between master planning and Measure C. Master planning is a process in which almost all school districts engage in regardless of funding. It’s an aspirational vision of what our district’s schools should look like in the future to best serve students.
We take part in master planning without respect to fiscal constraints. Think of it like you were designing your dream house as if “money was no object.” The schematics you see in connection with this article and our district website are representations of our master planning process. Measure C, on the other hand, provides funding specifically for the highest master planning priorities of modern classrooms, improved access to educational technology, and new play structures.
Funding for other master planning priorities will have to come from other sources such as the eventual release of Prop 51 funds (but more on that another time).