As the school year was about to get started, San Benito High School District board of trustee members gathered Aug. 8 to discuss an updated facilities and construction report and approved plans for new physical education and athletic facilities on campus.
Presented by Elise Koufos of AEDIS Architects, Brad Fannin of Blach Construction, and San Benito County capital program manager Adam Goldstone, the report provided a comprehensive review of all the projects that have been completed under voter-approved bond Measure G as well as those left to be completed using Measure U bond proceeds.
Approved by the voters in June 2014, monies from Measure G have allowed for Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) updates thoughout campus, modernization of the special education classrooms, fire and life safety upgrades, a new drop-off and loading zone in Baler Alley, a new public address system throughout campus, updated restrooms for students and staff, a staff lounge, and partially funded the Visual and Performing Arts (VAPA) building currently under construction near Mattson Gym. The $42.5-million bond also helped fund the Career Technical Education building (CTE), that was ready for students on Aug. 10, the first day of school.
New Athletic Facilities
The board voted 5-0 to move forward with a new stadium (including a synthetic track) along with physical education facilities, locker rooms, spectator restrooms and an entry structure with ticket booth. They also approved moving forward with the aquatics center, featuring a 50 meter competition pool, eight-lane “learn to swim” pool, diving boards and bleachers. The Baler Barn will stay for existing concessions. The project also includes new P.E./athletics fields west of West Street, to include a junior varsity baseball field and practice infield; JV softball field and practice field; full size soccer field with striping for field hockey and men’s lacrosse striped in. There will also be room for football practice.
Tennenbaum said, “This will provide every P.E. student and athlete access every day of the school year. In a sense we’ll create a surface that’s playable 365 days a year."
Athletic Director Tod Thatcher said “this is going to be a very nice facility. It’ll be used from 7 a.m. to dark every day.”
The home side bleachers in the new stadium will have an occupancy of 2,500 occupancy; so graduation could be held in the stadium.
Nash Road Closure
The proposed Nash Road closure was also a topic of conversation. “The design is complete and we have submitted to the city for the first round of comments which we have addressed and we are ready to take it back to them for the final approval. As of yesterday or so, I had a conversation with the city and they are going to waive fees,” said Koufos.
Goldstone added, “Our board is raising up their contribution further which should give us enough cushion contingency that when we put this out to bid we should have it covered. We’re committed to building that road, covering the cost based on the estimate and contribution that you're willing to do.”
Design is complete, with the review in process by city officials for traffic calming measures along West, Monterey and B streets. The project proposal includes a movable agate at the intersections of Nash at West and Monterey; and solar radar speed displays on Powell Street. Goldstone said the project – which is planned in conjunction with a bypass road that will divert traffic south of campus and include some park land – should go out to bid in six to nine months. He said “it is a very tight timeline to get this done by next year, but it is still doable and that’s what we’re moving towards.”
Superintendent Shawn Tennenbaum thanked Goldstone for his advocacy, saying, “That’s a perfect example of working together for the betterment of our staff, our students, and our community for decades to come.”
The closure is scheduled to be completed by summer 2018.
Also discussed were the other upcoming projects set to be completed with Measure U funds. Approved by voters in November 2016, the $60 million bond is designated to help fund major improvements to San Benito High School including upgrades to the athletic facilities, the remaining portion of the VAPA building, the aquatic complex, student union and academic classrooms for growth and robotics. The projects are currently awaiting the finalization of the request for proposal and request for qualifications (RFP/RFQ) process.
Probable construction costs to date are $75.3 million, with Measure U funds of $60 million plus $18.4 of state matching funds, totaling $78.4 million. That is targeted to be $3 million under the forecasted budget. Tennenbaum said, “I’m very proud of all the collaboration. It is under our budget, it is meeting our needs, and it is what our students, faculty, coaches and board have asked for.”
New Market Tax Credit
The board also approved a $20,000 contract with David Taussig & Associates (DTA) to pursue the possibility of obtaining a new market tax credit. The credit would be used to fund a portion of the proposed aquatic complex.
Presented by managing director Nathan Perez of DTA, the tax credit program is funded by the federal government. According to the U.S. Department of the Treasury Community Development Financial Institutions Fund, “The program incentivizes community development and economic growth through the use of tax credits that attract private investment to distressed communities.”
“What we are trying to do here is to really get that 25 percent of the project for free,” said Perez.
Superintendent Shawn Tennenbaum said the district would benefit from the tax credit program after receiving no interest for financial collaboration on the aquatic center from the city or county.
“There isn’t an interest as far as a financial interest," he said of the government agencies. "There’s an interest as far as access, but right now there isn't a financial interest to be a partner, a true collaborator and in looking in the totality of all the projects that we’re doing with Measure U, this provides us with the potential of $2.5 million with an initial $20,000 investment,” he said. “I see this as an opportunity to show folks that we can fund things alternatively and that we can look at things in a logical manner and also in a smart manner to tap into resources that other folks have been tapping into for many many years.”
Tennenbaum and Jud Shutts of San Benito Aquatics first presented the idea of a collaboration with the city and county at the intergovernmental meeting on April 6. They were met with mixed support, with some officials citing lack of money available in local government's general fund. Tennenbaum later presented the idea at the county board of supervisors in April and was met with the same sentiments.
DTA would be responsible for identifying, evaluating, and economic and social impacts of the aquatic complex project to present to community development entity to secure the funding.
Board of trustees members also approved the second reading and adoption of a suicide prevention program mandated by the state. Scheduled to go into effect this school year, Assembly Bill 2246 requires schools serving students in grades 7 to 12 to adopt a state-mandated program in which district personnel develop measures and strategies for suicide prevention.
First presented at the July 11 meeting, the program has several components including staff training, student training, and parent awareness.
“We have already implemented the staff training component with an online training for all staff members," said Director of Educational Services Cindi Krokower. "Principal (Adrian) Ramirez is working on the other two components.
Enrollment Tops 3,000
Total student enrollment was at 3,007 on Aug. 8 with a projection of 3,027 students.
The next Board of Trustees meeting is Aug. 22 at 7 p.m. in the Davis Library on campus.
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