By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
School construction costs off budget
modernization pic
Emergency dry rot repair costs at Brown Elementary School have forced the school district to rethink modernization funding and priorities. - photo by NANCY ANGEL / The Journal

Many Turlock students started the new academic year amidst construction at their school sites. Currently, the Turlock Unified School District has projects underway at Brown, Julien and Wakefield elementary schools and Turlock High School.

On Tuesday, the TUSD Board of Trustees was presented with a common construction problem — not enough funds.

Assistant Superintendent/Business Services Mike Trainor proposed that the TUSD approve a revision for the funding and priority order for the capital facilities financing plan due to the increasing costs of the emergency dry rot repair for the Brown Modernization Project.

“The issues that had occurred at Brown, have really impacted everything else,” said Trainor. “Significant dry rot damage at Brown has required us to have to relook at what we are doing with our projects and finances to go along with those construction projects.”

Rather than approve the revision for the funding, board of trustees members were left with more questions than answers.

“Back in ‘08 we approved a budget, based on a scope of construction,” said Trustee Frank Lima. The budget stays the same, but the scope of the budget has to change.  I think it’s unfair to some degree.”

The General Obligation Bond Measure was approved by the voters in 2006 to finance the modernization of Brown, Crowell, Cunningham, Julien, Osborn and Wakefield elementary schools and the Crane Early Learning Center.

“Things are a lot more expensive than we thought,” added Lima.  “Inflation is higher and the prices are much more expensive than what we had anticipated four years ago.”

Both Superintendent Sonny Da Marto and Lima agreed that using district reserve funds to pay for the completion of modernization projects was warranted.

 “This is what I see as significant use for our reserves.  Committing 3 or 4 million dollars from our reserves to use it in school is fair and worth it because kids and teachers will be able to enjoy it from years to come,” Lima said.

The board of trustees agreed to move forward but asked district staff for more accurate numbers on the costs of each modernization project.

 “We have committed ourselves to use our reserves,” said Lima.  “We have to have the entire scope of the project and see what the entire cost will be.”

Some projects have been completed, such as Roselawn High School, the Ag Building and East Gym at Turlock High, Osborn Elementary School, and the Crane Early Learning Center (now the eCademy Charter at Crane School).