By Scott Turnbull
“We shape our buildings; thereafter they shape us.”
— Winston Churchill
We are shaping our buildings and our future as it pertains to Measure C, SUESD’s $42M General Obligation Bond. We are at a pivotal phase of the process so I thought I would offer an update on where we are on Measure C Projects.
When I last updated you in December 2016, we were still soaking up the reality that Measure C had passed. It was almost overwhelming to know that we were going to have the necessary funds to give our students the play structures, classrooms, and educational technology they deserve. It didn’t take long for our staff to move from soaking up the new reality straight into “getting things done” mode. It is inspiring to observe how important Measure C projects are to everyone in SUESD.
Let’s start with play structures. These projects are the first that will be “shovel-ready” as the saying goes. These projects impact our three comprehensive elementary schools: Soquel Elementary, Main Street, and Santa Cruz Gardens. Our original plan was to have these play structures ready for the first day of the 2017-18 School Year (August 23, 2017) and we are still on-point with that goal.
Numerous input meetings were held regarding the design of the play structures. SUESD Staff and representatives from MADI Architecture met with teachers, parents, and students to ensure we produce exactly the play structure that is desired at each site. Input included the type of equipment for each play structure as well as the color scheme. Plans were submitted to the Division of State Architect (DSA) and approved. Oh, and say goodbye to those annoying little wood chips! Each play structure will be situated on a modern rubber surface.
Replacing Portable Classrooms
While the play structures will be the first shovel-ready projects, rest assured that significant work is being done in the background to prepare for the most important of our projects; replacing the portable classrooms at each of our three comprehensive elementary schools and New Brighton Middle School. You can view schematics of the master plan for each of these school sites on the home page of the SUESD Website (http://www.soqueldo.santacruz.k12.ca.us/).
A high level of input has been sought to ensure the campus design is optimal for learning and safety. SUESD Staff has repeatedly met with teachers, site support staff, principals, parent groups, community, and students. The schematics you will see on our website now reflect the input we have received from the groups above.
We will be replacing all of the district’s portable classrooms. Specific plans at New Brighton Middle School have us adding nine (9) new classrooms, new Physical Education Locker rooms, and new rooms for Art and Woodshop. At Santa Cruz Gardens, we plan to add four (4) modern classrooms. We’ll replace the portables at Main Street & Soquel Elementary with eleven (11) new classrooms each.
There are two obvious questions I would like to answer here. Those questions are “How?” and “When?” First the “how.” The new classrooms will be modular classrooms. Please rest assured that “modular” is NOT synonymous with “portable.” There is a frequent misconception to the contrary. Modular classrooms are built to our specifications and laid permanently on a concrete foundation (unlike our current portables). One of the main upsides to modular construction (as compared to traditional onsite construction) is that most of the work can be done off-site meaning less disruption to the instructional process and it’s less weather-dependent. Prebuilt classrooms are then hauled on to the site.
Construction of New Facilities
When can we start to expect to see new classrooms? Our goal is to start onsite modular construction during the summer of 2018 and stagger the work throughout the year. The ambitious target is to have all new classrooms in place by the end of the summer of 2019. It is important to remember that even when there is not visible onsite construction taking place, there is still work being done in the background such as geological testing, site preparation, utility setup, and offsite modular construction. Throughout the process, we will deploy interim housing to allow site preparation to take place as necessary.
Currently, the construction industry is highly impacted. There is a lot of work out there right now making the market very competitive for services. SUESD Staff is working hard, in concert with our Construction Manager & Architect, to find the very best possible combination of costs and timelines as we secure contracts. We have met with our Educational Technology Committee and decided on a classroom design that best supports an integrated approach to technology-based learning. We also have plans in place to reinforce our network infrastructure to ensure it is robust enough to handle the addition of new devices.
Thanks again for your support in modernizing our schools and be on the lookout for those cool new play structures this summer!
Scott Turnbull, Superintendent – Soquel Union Elementary School District, 620 Monterey Ave., Capitola CA 95010. Tel #: 831-464-5639. Email: email@example.com