The Turlock Unified School District farm, Pitman High School’s athletic facilities and security fencing at several more of the city’s schools will see improvements in the coming year thanks to recent action by the Board of Trustees, who have approved a flurry of project activity as the new school year gets up and running.
In August, the Board approved efforts to enhance security fencing at four TUSD campuses, continuing the district-wide project to make each campus safer. On Tuesday night, the Board approved authorization to seek proposals for Pitman’s playfield renovations project, to include a new track and football field, and also gave the go-ahead for Harris Builders, Inc. to construct the district farm’s new swine barn, electrical upgrades and farm fencing.
The new swine facility and other improvements at the district farm are anticipated to cost $1,394,500 according to the approved bid, with funding coming from a Career Technical Education Incentive Grant, anticipated future grant funding and the General Education fund.
In addition to the new swine barn, which will include a waste separator and pump, a pressure washer and self-operating eave inlet vents, the district farm will also see just over $100,000 worth of enhancements in the form of new iron fencing, an entry gate and a 15-foot entry structure complete with “TUSD Farm” signage.
“We’re trying to stay with the theme of securing facilities and this would be the safety entrance gate area to the TUSD Farm,” Assistant Superintendent of Business Services Mike Trainor said. “This won’t go all the way around the farm facility, but it will prevent people from driving their cars back there and that kind of thing.”
Security fencing that was approved for Cunningham Elementary, Julien Elementary, eCademy Elementary and Roselawn High School on Aug. 7 and is estimated to cost $1,120,000 and will be paid for by Bond Measures N and O.
In community surveys asking what bond measure projects Turlock residents prioritized at different schools, many said that a new track and football field at Pitman was at the top of their list. After receiving community input, TUSD made playfield renovations at the high school a priority of their own and the Board on Tuesday got their first glimpse of the plan.
Pitman’s current track and field, which runs east and west, will be repositioned to run north and south so that the setting sun is not in student athletes’ eyes. Additional upgrades include an improved all-weather track and synthetic turf field.
In addition to the new football field and track, Pitman will also receive two brand new softball fields on the northeast side of their athletic facility, with the fields facing out toward the school’s current tennis courts. A new practice field for the soccer team is included in the plans as well, and will be located just south of the new softball fields.
The playfield renovations are the first phase of a larger modernization project at Pitman, which also includes safety and ADA upgrades, campus security enclosure, swimming pool repairs and renovation of the culinary arts department.
While the playfield renovations were approved, Trustees Ken Malech and Frank Lima expressed concern about the fact that the new football field will not have stadium seating for quite some time, rendering it useless for most activities other than practicing.
“I think without [seating] it’s very difficult to have events out there,” Lima said.
“Spending a lot of money just for a practice field is difficult to justify,” Board president Barney Gordon said. “Hopefully in the near future, we can add the bleachers to be able to support at least some events.”
Trainor pointed out that community input showed support for a new field, but not for new stadium bleachers. There are no immediate plans to add seating, as funding for such a project has yet to be identified, but there is enough room in the current plans to allow for a stadium size of about 3,500 spectators, compared to Joe Debely Stadium’s capacity of about 4,000.
Bids for the project will be due in about a month, Trainor said, and he expects a bid to be awarded in mid-October. From there, construction will begin shortly after.
“Our goal is to move quickly now so we can get these playfield areas worked on with the hope that we will be able to use them sometime this spring,” Trainor said.