Central Unified might need to pass a new bond measure to pay for its new high school, Superintendent Andrew Alvarado says.
“To build the entire high school, there will possibly be a need to pass another bond, but we haven’t started those conversations yet,” said Alvarado at a town hall Oct. 10 at Houghton Kearney Elementary School.
Price of New High School More Than Expected
When talks about a new high school began 20 years ago, the projected cost was approximately $80 million, Alvarado said.
Alvarado told the district’s school board at its Oct. 9 meeting that the first three phases of the project alone would cost $112 million. He said it will cost around $180 million to complete the entire high school project.
“Due to escalation, that’s what we are projecting,” Alvarado said.
Alvarado said the school board recently approved a waiver to access approximately $46 million from Measure C — an $87.3 million bond measure passed by 71% of voters in November 2016 to improve the district’s schools.
According to the district’s facilities planning board update, the first three phases of the high school include classrooms, a cafeteria, and gymnasium. They are slated to be completed by August 2021.
The board will further discuss details about how it plans to fund the new high school at its Oct. 23 meeting, Alvarado said.
The new high school is scheduled to open in three years, just in time for the 2021-22 school year.
Plans are to have the school built right behind the Deran Koligian Stadium on Grantland Avenue. The area is in close proximity to Harvest Elementary School and Glacier Point Middle School.
“We have heard it loud and clear that the community wants the high school built, and we are going to make that happen,” Alvarado said.
New Elementary School Will Open in January
The district is also nearing completion of Hanh Phan Tilley Elementary School. Plans call for the two-story elementary school to open in January.
“We toured that school just a couple of weeks ago, and it is absolutely beautiful,” Alvarado said. “We’ve done a great job on that site.”
District-Wide Town Hall Meetings
Alvarado presented the news to about 30 parents at his fourth and last town hall meeting at Houghton Kearney Elementary School.
The previous three meetings were held at Rio Vista Middle School, El Capitan Middle School, and Glacier Point Middle School.
Alvarado held the meetings to give parents an opportunity to meet him and hear his vision for the district.
In addition to updates on new schools, Alvarado told parents about a computer-based bus routing system the district will implement before the end of the school year and how he plans to improve academic performance.
“I think his plan and his insight is important for community members to hear,” said parent Georgette Lake.
She also said that meetings also are helping the Central community make a transition from previous Superintendent Mark Sutton, who was fired by the school board earlier this year without explanation.
“I did not support Mark Sutton’s dismissal and I think our board acted irresponsibly when they dismissed him,” Lake said. “This community now will look to Mr. Alvarado for healing, and it will be his job to restore the trust that the board shattered.”
Debbie Lopez, who has several kids enrolled in the district, said Alvarado’s town hall meetings are great.
“It is a great way to reach out and connect with people,” Lopez said. “I appreciate it.”