H1 Facilities Bond Program Update, Deferral of the Witter Field Renovation and Kindergarten Expansion

TO: Board of Education

FROM: Randall Booker, Superintendent
Pete Palmer, Director of Facilities and H1 Bond Program Manager




This update includes the following:   

  1. Summary
  2. Budget Update: Revenue & Expenditures 
  3. Progress Toward Program Goals
    1. Completed Projects
    2. Remaining Project
  4. The Witter Field Project
    1. Timing & Cash Flow
    2. Field Maintenance & Occasional Temporary Closures
  5. Extended-Day Kindergarten

A. Summary

Under the Measure H1 bond program, the District has already completed several high-priority projects identified in its Facilities Master Plan (including new heating and cooling systems at the elementary schools, a new high school computer lab, and new safety and security features at the middle school), and is on track to complete several more over the next few years (new STEAM and theater buildings, modernization of high school classrooms, and renovation of Witter Field).  

The remaining work will be phased over several years in order to manage the impacts of construction on the campus and community, and manage cash flow.  Work on the new STEAM building will begin in the Spring of 2019 and construction of the new theater will begin in the Summer of 2020. Renovation of the Witter Field complex will be deferred for at least one year and the timing will likely depend on receipt of State modernization and other funding.   Modification of kindergarten facilities will be deferred for at least one year and until more is known about the availability of State funding for this work.

The District is working with Overaa Construction to develop construction budgets for the STEAM and new theater projects and will present these for Board approval on February 27.

B. Budget Update: Revenue & Expenditures

The Measure H1 bond authorization is $66.1 million and the District sold the first tranche of bonds in 2016, raising $26 million.  The District earns roughly $20,000 per month in interest on this bond money, and interest earnings now total roughly $360,000.  

A second revenue source is State matching funds for new school construction and school modernization.  The District is eligible to receive an estimated $4 million to $6 million in these funds, although the State may not disburse this money for several years and the timing may depend on future State bond measures.  

The District is applying and may be eligible for other types of State matching funds, to repair the drainage system under Witter Field, and to expand kindergarten facilities.  If the District qualifies for funding for the drainage repairs, the State would determine the grant amount based on specific project criteria, and would disburse the money within months (quicker than the modernization funds).  The kindergarten grant program is relatively new and the State has not yet issued complete guidelines concerning funding criteria and procedures. Nonetheless, on February 27, the District will take the first formal step in the application process and present the Board with a resolution to seek this kindergarten funding.  

To date, the District has spent roughly $7 million of bond funds on: the projects already completed (see below); architectural, engineering, permitting, and consulting fees relating to the STEAM, theater and Witter projects; and administration of the bond program.   Expenditures are reviewed periodically by the Citizens Bond Oversight Committee, which will issue its second annual Report to the Community in March.

C. Progress Toward Program Goals

a. Completed Projects

The District has used bond funds to:   

  • Install ventilation and climate control equipment in 15 elementary classrooms, to prevent classroom overheating and improve the learning environment.  This work included infrastructure that will make it cost-efficient to install these systems in additional classrooms in the future.
  • Convert two offices in the PHS 30s building into one computer classroom with 34 workstations, to help meet rising demand for computer classes without waiting until the STEAM building is completed.  
  • Install a new climate control system for part of the PHS 30s building and infrastructure to expand the system to the remainder of the building in the future, ultimately replacing steam radiators and an antiquated boiler.    
  • Improve safety and security at PMS with the installation of new doors, hardware, and electronic locks.   
  • Survey underground utilities on the high school campus to prepare for construction of the new STEAM and theater buildings, and preserve and reuse these utilities to avoid spending time and money to re-install this infrastructure.

b. Remaining Projects

Over the next few years, the District plans to:

  • Construct a new high school STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Mathematics) building.
  • Construct a new high school theater.
  • Replace antiquated building systems and modernize classrooms in PHS’ 20s and 30s buildings.
  • Replace underground drainage, synthetic turf, and track and make accessibility improvements to Witter Field.

As noted above, the District will present construction budgets for the STEAM and new theater projects for Board approval on February 27.  With the exception of Witter Field, the projects listed above are expected to consume most of the remaining bond funds. For that reason, the District will rely on State modernization funds and other funding sources to complete the Witter renovation.

D. The Witter Field Project

The turf and track at Witter Field were last replaced in 2007 and are at the end of their useful life.  An eight-year life cycle is typical for these materials but, through diligent maintenance, the District has extended the life of both the turf and track by more than three years.   A more fundamental problem, and more time-consuming and expensive to fix, is the field’s underground drainage system. The system has failed and, as a result, rain water typically pools both above and below the synthetic turf.  As a result, even moderate rain can lead to field closure.

The cost of replacing the drainage system, installing new turf and track, and making accessibility improvements is roughly $3.4 million, and this cost will be covered primarily by State modernization funds and possibly other State matching funds.  

The District has undertaken all steps necessary to prepare for the Witter Field project, including:  site surveys and analysis; engineering and plan development; application for a permit; and issuance of a Request for Qualifications/Proposals for field contractors.  Also, the District did relocation planning for athletics and graduations so it would have the option to proceed with the project this Spring.

a. Timing & Cash Flow

As noted above, completion of the STEAM and theater buildings and modernization of the 20s and 30s buildings will likely consume the remaining bond funds, so the District will use State modernization and other funds to complete the Witter renovation.  The District’s recommendation to the Board is to defer the Witter project for at least one year and until there is a more clear timeframe for disbursement of State modernization and other funds.

b. Field Maintenance & Occasional Temporary Closures

The District believes it can continue to preserve and maintain the Witter track and turf for a few more years if necessary, until it can undertake the complete renovation.  This work may entail more frequent patching and grooming of the turf and track, and may involve occasional, temporary closures to mitigate and repair flood damage. When rain and flooding is significant, the District will need to close the field to peel away the turf, relevel and compact the sub-base, and glue, re-roll and flatten the turf.  Depending on weather, this work can take several days and up to several weeks, and this may be disruptive for school and community use.

The District currently spends roughly $6,000 to $10,0000 per year to manage the effects of flooding and keep the field open.  Going forward, as the turf and track continue to degrade, the District expects these costs to increase to roughly $30,000 to $50,000 per year.  The District will make every effort to notify the City and organized users about the possibility of occasional closures.

E. Extended-Day Kindergarten

Two years ago, the District started offering extended-day kindergarten at each elementary school.  The District is considering the feasibility of expanding the kindergarten facilities. Nonetheless, there are numerous challenges to expanding the footprint of classrooms and adding restrooms within existing buildings, so these types of improvements will take time to plan and implement.  

Given that the extended-day kindergarten programs are already in place and that school enrollment is below capacity, the District’s Facilities Steering Committee reached consensus that the District should defer kindergarten expansion at least until the projects discussed above have been completed.  Nonetheless, the District will continue its efforts to secure funding for a future kindergarten expansion project.


Review and discuss the Measure H1 program updates.  Give staff direction on the Program Timeline and plans to defer the Witter Field project and kindergarten expansion.