High school science labs will consume most of Measure S funding

By Tina Richards

Canyon High’s student representative to the OUSD Board of Education listened carefully to the presentation given at the May 25 meeting outlining plans for that school’s new science building. 

The Canyon science facility is one of the four slated to be built on each OUSD high school campus using Measure S bond money.  Plans for Canyon’s state-of-the-art science center were the third presented to the school board, following Orange and El Modena.  Of the three, Canyon’s is, so far, the largest, at 61,000 sq. ft., and the most expensive, at $69.5 million.

Aimee Uehara had a few questions.  “After building the science center,” she asked, “how much money will be left over to repair the existing campus facilities that need fixing?  What about the classrooms that smell bad and are moldy?  How about fixing the drinking fountains?”

She was assured that $2.5 million would remain of Canyon’s $70-plus million share of the bond money, and that repairs would be made.

“But the repairs aren’t the priority,” she noted, “and it seems to me, they should be.”

No quick fixes
Indeed, voters were assured that Measure S funds would be used to “repair and upgrade OUSD’s four comprehensive high schools” as well as “update classrooms, science labs, career-training facilities, libraries and computer systems.”

The district has consistently held that science labs are the number one thing voters were promised, and it is following that lead.

Uehara’s concerns that immediate repairs were taking second place to projects years from completion were dismissed, at least for that meeting, because “the focus now is on this science building.”

The $69.5-million price tag does, however, include infrastructure costs.  Electric and gas utilities, campus-wide, will be replaced at the onset, and a “communications backbone” built in.

The cost also includes demolishing an existing building to make room for the new, and relocating the administration offices.  Trustees were also assured that the price estimate is “high level,” not based on specifics, and will likely be lower. “We don’t want to come back later and tell you it will be more,” the presenter from Canyon architects gkkworks told the board.

Working on the labs
As envisioned, the two-story structure will house a student services area, four 2,200-sq.-ft. wet labs, four 1,400-sq.-ft. science labs, and twelve 1,200-sq.-ft. general purpose classrooms.  The facility will include restrooms, an elevator and outdoor learning space.  When complete, 100 spaces will be added to the parking lot and pickup/dropoff areas enhanced.

Site preparation may begin as early as this year, with construction starting in 2019.  

Plans for a similar science building at El Modena High School were presented to the board, May 11.  Coming in at $40.7 million ($32.1 million for actual construction; $8.6 million for site preparation and infrastructure), the facility will host four chemistry labs, six general science labs, one general classroom and a comprehensive medically fragile suite.  The building will be located near the baseball fields, and provide for a larger quad area when complete.  Construction is expected to commence in October 2018, with move in, May 2020.

Both Canyon and El Modena plans include the foundation requirements set for all four schools.   That is, classrooms designed for 40 students, outfitted with teaching walls, integrated technology and Wi-Fi.  

Plans for Villa Park High’s science facility will be presented at the June 8 board meeting.


Canyon High School

El Modena High School