Mon10202014

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LASD discusses possible facilities upgrades

Although the Los Altos School District Board of Trustees agreed that mitigating enrollment growth topped its priority list for bond funds, trustees spent most of their July 7 meeting discussing potential facilities upgrades.

During earlier meetings, Randy Kenyon, assistant superintendent for business services, said the district could generate an estimated $200 million with passage of a November bond measure.

Before outlining the secondary priorities trustees might consider, Kenyon reiterated the costs of addressing the district’s growing enrollment. He said that to acquire and build a K-6 campus, the district would need approximately $69 million, plus an additional $14 million for expanded capacity at other district schools – a total of $83 million.

To acquire and build a K-8 campus, the district would need to spend approximately $86 million, with an additional $14 million for expanded capacity at other district schools – for a total of $100 million.

Funding priorities

Kenyon reported the district staff’s suggested priorities for bond funds. After resolving the growth problem, he suggested that the district review its energy-efficiency and solar projections – which could produce long-term cost savings via lower energy bills.

District architect Lisa Gelfand outlined items that would improve insulation performance on buildings on the Egan Junior High and Covington campuses and reviewed other conservation projects (excluding solar), which could cost approximately $3.5 million. According to estimates, it would cost the district $9.8 million to install solar projects and become zero net energy via photovoltaic systems.

Trustees expressed interest in further researching energy-efficiency savings.

Kenyon said the third priority would be a planned maintenance fund of approximately $6 million for future upkeep, paying off capital leases ($3.5 million for the Gardner Bullis modernization in 2008) and, if portables cannot be replaced with permanent buildings, purchasing portables instead of leasing them.

The fourth priority, Kenyon said, would be to upgrade buildings to current code standards where appropriate.

The final priority level, if funding remains, would be to replace multipurpose buildings at Oak Avenue, Santa Rita and Springer schools ($10 million), replace portable classrooms with permanent ones ($32 million), implement new transitional kindergarten and kindergarten classrooms and play areas ($16.4 million) and replace portable library and offices with permanent buildings ($10.5 million).

Board input

Trustee Steve Taglio said it was important to bring facilities up to code for safety reasons. He prioritized modernization of classrooms over multipurpose buildings.

Trustee Doug Smith said he was less concerned with facility codes and wanted to learn more about energy savings and how to “stretch our dollars.”

In response to a public comment that questioned how Bullis Charter School fits into the facility upgrades, board President Tammy Logan clarified what acquiring an additional campus means for the district.

“I’m going to put something out there that we have avoided,” she said. “When we say ‘expand capacity’ – to me that means we develop a 10th facility, and it will be dedicated to Bullis Charter School. That is what I believe is the right thing to do. At least in my mind, we should start being a little more direct about what that means.”

The district is scheduled to meet again July 28 and 30 to further discuss the November bond measure before voting at the Aug. 4 board meeting on whether to place it on the ballot.

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