“To me, it looks like there is enough money to do those three schools, and we’re committed to make those three schools (into) schools we’d be proud of,” Casey Goodall, assistant superintendent for business services, said.
In the past eight years, TUSD officials have convinced voters to pass two bond measures to modernize district schools.
The first was Measure E, a $51 million bond measure in 2006 to make improvements to Tracy and West high schools. It was followed by Measure S in 2008 for $43.1 million to improve district elementary and middle schools.
Initially, the Measure S list included Central Elementary School, but Goodall said administrators eventually realized they couldn’t accomplish all of their goals and trimmed back their priority list.
“We realized we were not going to be able to do the scope of the projects that we hoped we were going to do,” Goodall said. “The question posed to them (board of trustees) was do you scale the projects back to where you’re probably not going to get anything out of what you spend, or do you change the project and show you are doing the right thing with the voters’ dollars.”
Most of the Measure S funds were spent renovating Monte Vista Middle School and modernizing McKinley Elementary School.
The last item on the Measure S to-do list is the renovation of South/West Park Elementary School, which is slated to begin in June 2015, Goodall said.
One outcome of the earlier modernization projects was the creation of a uniform classroom pattern for all TUSD schools, Superintendent Dr. James Franco said.
He said that after the voters approved the bonds, district officials recognized that residents didn’t want anything fancy done to their schools. He said they wanted what made sense, and that resulted in the creation of a “standard classroom plan.”
The district set a goal to modernize every TUSD school with such things as white boards, storage space, carpet, air-conditioning that worked and overhead projectors, Franco said — “visual image elements that people could retain and say, ‘I’d like that at my school, too.’ Nice environment in the classrooms.”
Bonny Carter, the director of facilities and planning, said TUSD administrators have an image they are trying to implement whenever they do a school modernization. She said they always want to make sure the work is anchored by the standards they have set.
The proposed $82 million bond measure, B, would provide up-to-date classrooms, libraries and computer labs at Central, North and the former Clover School campus, now occupied by the Tracy Learning Center charter schools. It would also cover the cost to replace the old plumbing, heating and ventilation with energy-efficient systems, upgrade and improve the electrical systems, increase classroom technology and upgrade the campus security systems at those three schools.
The estimated cost of the bond to homeowners in the district is $50 per $100,000 of assessed value, added to the annual property tax bill.
“We think this is the amount of money we need to address these other schools and we’ll be in good shape after this,” Goodall said. “I don’t think this is something we will come back saying we need more (money).”
Voters will make their decision on Measure B on June 3 in the state primary election.
• Contact Denise Ellen Rizzo at firstname.lastname@example.org or 830-4225.