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School district presents plans for priority bond projects
wakefield pic1
Wakefield Elementary School just revealed its Head Start programs new building and playground structure, made possible by Measure N. - photo by Photo Contributed

A new football field, bigger parking lots and a state-of-the-art science building are just a few developments in store for Turlock Unified School District’s elementary and high school campuses, and just over a year after the election which made them possible, projects funded by Measure N and O are beginning to take shape.

During the 2016 General Election, city voters approved two general obligation bond measures that provided $88.8 million in bonds for the school district. The funds, $40.8 million from Measure N to go toward elementary needs and $48 million from Measure O for high school improvements, were to be used in addressing educational and facility necessities throughout TUSD.

The results from months of deliberation by the district’s Bond Oversight Committees – which are comprised of community members, teachers and other stakeholders – were presented to the Board of Trustees during a special meeting Thursday night, highlighting the coming projects at each campus, their cost and their prioritization.

“We went with a ‘something for everyone’ approach,” said Assistant Superintendent of Business Services Mike Trainor, “$88.8 million sounds like a lot of money and it certainly is a lot of money, but we’re also a very good-sized district. We’re not a small district. Spread that among 15 schools, it gets a little thin.”

Trainor explained to the Board that a bit of “wiggle room” was left in each bond’s planned budget to account for unexpected issues that may arise during any construction. The total for projects planned at the district’s elementary sites adds up to about $34 million, while the budget for high school projects totals $44.5 million. There is also potential for the district to receive about $12 million in funding from the state for the elementary budget and about $5 million toward the high school budget, if the campuses are deemed eligible.

“What we tried to do was touch every single school site,” said Trainor, adding that some campuses, like Brown Elementary, were allotted less money since they have undergone more recent renovations.

The district’s more modern sites, like Brown, Medeiros Elementary and Walnut Elementary, all received $500,000 or less of the bond funding, while older campuses such as Osborn Two-Way Immersion Academy and Wakefield Elementary both received $10 million and $5 million, respectively.

“Medeiros is relatively new, so we don’t see the needs quite the same as we do at Osborn,” said Trainor. “Those are just examples of why some schools, we’re estimating, should receive more money than others.”

There are projects funded by the measures throughout the district that have already been completed as well, including security fencing at Dennis Earl Elementary, Medeiros and Walnut and the recent modernization of the Head Start program at Wakefield. A Kindergarten Relocation Project at Wakefield is also slated for the coming weeks, funded by Measure N.

“Our focus throughout this process was fire, life, safety and campus security – those were the big ones we really wanted to lock in on,” said Trainor. “Obviously, folks, there’s S.T.E.M. that we need to address, and we can have conversations about that, and then just general modernizations, but we really took the approach of, ‘Okay, what’s the most important thing?’

“It came back to, ‘Let’s take care of all of the safety stuff that we have to take care of…let’s get that out of the way, and then take care of the things we need to do.’”

Planned projects at each priority school site include:

OSBORN: Safety and ADA upgrades, including a new fire alarm system. Campus security, with six-foot ornamental fencing, an administration entrance enclosure and doors and chain-link fence and gates at the school perimeter. A new kindergarten/Head Start area will be constructed in the northwest corner of the campus, which will include construction of a new 11-classroom kindergarten building, a Head Start building and new play structures. A new parking lot with 20 additional stalls will be constructed in the northeast corner, along with a new internal parent drop-off and pickup lane. Total projected cost: $11,736,312

DUTCHER: Fire, life, safety and ADA upgrades, including campus-wide accessibility, a campus-wide PA system and clocks and campus-wide fire alarms. Campus security, with the demolition of existing fencing and installation of six-foot ornamental fencing, gates and hardware, and chain-link fence and gates at the school perimeter. Parking lot improvements will connect the current bus drop-off on the north side of campus with the eastern parking lot via a paved driveway, and add 45 additional parking spots. The driveway will funnel drop-off traffic from Hawkeye Ave. into the parking lot, rather than parents driving down to the intersection at Colorado Ave. Total projected cost: $5,189,849

TURLOCK JUNIOR HIGH: Safety and ADA upgrades, including a new fire alarm system for the entire campus and more ADA-compliant pathways, parking spaces and signage throughout campus. Campus security, with six-foot ornamental fencing, with an administration entrance door and entry cover. Site improvements, including modification of the campus entry driveway and drop-off lane, a new walkway along the south side of the parking lot to create a safer route, a sidewalk from the music classrooms back to the main campus and another walkway on the east side of campus for safety evacuations. Total projected cost: $5,556,881

TURLOCK HIGH: Fire, life, safety and ADA upgrades include creating ADA-approved paths of travel and replacing the concrete walkway in front of the Boys’ Gym. Campus security, including expansion of the camera system, security fencing and gates and a Colorado Ave. student loading zone. The current science building on the north side of campus will be replaced with a new, two-story lab and lecture science building, six portable buildings will be removed from campus and the parking lot between the wood and auto shops will be replaced. Future projects also accounted for in THS bond budget. Total projected cost: $22,372,500

PITMAN HIGH: Safety and ADA upgrades, including a new fire alarm system, and campus security fencing. Playfield renovations include a new football field and an all-weather track (stadium bleachers to be considered in future project plans). Swimming pool repairs will remove and replace existing concrete pavement, add new deck drainage and repair pool plaster. The culinary arts classroom will also receive a renovation. Total projected cost: $7,024,750

WAKEFIELD: Safety and ADA upgrades, including a new fire alarm system, and campus security via six-foot ornamental fencing. Expansion of the current parking lot will add 31 parking spots, and the blacktop will be expanded to the south to maintain the same size playground area. Total projected cost: $1,869,033