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District gets green light on renovation projects
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After a year of stalled construction, renovation of Turlock High’s Agricultural building and elementary classroom projects will now be completed, thanks to funding through a Career Technical Education grant and local bonds.
Construction fences have surrounded brand new classrooms, which have sat vacant for the past year, waiting for the state to pitch in their share of the costs. At Tuesday’s Turlock Unified School District Board of Trustees meeting, the board approved to move forward with the completion of Turlock High’s modernization project.  
The construction will start on June 7 and is expected to end by Dec. 19.  Turlock High’s Agriculture building is just one of many school construction projects that have been put on hold for at least a year because of a lack of state funding. The Board of Trustees also approved to finish the Crowell Elementary School and Cunningham Elementary School portable classrooms project and the Crowell State Preschool classrooms project at their Jan. 5 board meeting.
These projects will be funded through local bonds and state bonds, said Roger Smith, TUSD Facility Planner and Safety Coordinator. About 40 percent of the project is funded through local bonds leaving the state responsible for 60 percent of the project through state bonds.
Most of the projects were created to make each site a safe environment, Smith said. The projects consist of updating and installing fire lanes, fire hydrants and access gates for the schools’ for safety.  
TUSD local bonds will pay $1.5 million to finish the Turlock High Agriculture building and $936,000 to finish Crowell and Cunningham elementary school projects, Smith said. The state will pay $490,000. No money is coming out of the TUSD budget for the construction projects, only from local bond money.  
These projects started a couple of years ago and were suspended in 2008, with state bonds almost non-existent, Smith said. This is due to the Pooled Money Investment Board that ceased disbursement of state bond funds supporting the State School Facilities Program.  
“In the middle of construction, the state ran out of money,” Smith said. “We have put the classroom projects on hold and we have been waiting for over a year. Still nothing.”
State funds are needed to complete the district’s list of 11 unfinished projects, he said. The other eight projects will have to wait until the state can pay their 60 percent of the project, which they committed to.
Soon the construction fences will be taken down at Cunningham Elementary and Crowell Elementary, and construction will be completed on Turlock High’s Agriculture building. Future projects include a new elementary school by the year 2014/2015, a new junior high after 2014/2015, an alternative education high school in 2012/2013 and a new high school after 2014/2015. The future needs are based off of projected enrollment increases.