The proposed science center for Villa Park High School, to be paid for with Measure S bond money, was presented to the Orange Unified School District B oard of Trustees, June 8.

Coming in at $45.2 million, it is less expensive than facilities proposed for Canyon ($69.5 million) and Orange High School ($52.2 million) and higher than El Modena ($40.7 million). It, like the others, contains all of the features identified as “must haves” by district stakeholders – 40-student classrooms, teaching walls, integrated technology and Wi-Fi. Because the four schools will share equally in the $288 million bond proceeds, the less spent on the science centers, the more that remains for additional repairs, renovations and upgrades.  Part of the disparity in cost is because the sites demand differing degrees of prep work.

Created by LPA architects, the Villa Park center is two stories, 45,000 sq. ft., and will house 12 labs, two multi-purpose classrooms and a medically fragile suite with two classrooms.  

A portion of the cost, $6.1 million, is for infrastructure (gas, electricity) upgrades and to tear down the school’s 300 Building, which will be the footprint for the new science center. 

A good fit for the neighborhood
Originally planned to be three stories tall, the architects opted for a lower height (37 feet) to keep the structure compatible with the neighborhood.  The new building will sit closer to Taft Avenue, and be accessible via two entry plazas and a dedicated drop-off zone for Special Ed. students.  When complete, the facility will be surrounded by a “generous” landscape buffer.

The wet labs will be 2,100 sq. ft. each, the classrooms 1,200 sq. ft., and the structure will contain a “remarkable number of restrooms.”  It will also host a “physics” balcony (cue the egg drop), include moveable furniture, lockers and natural ventilation. 

Construction is scheduled to begin in February 2019, with occupancy in November 2020.  The long lead time for this facility and those on deck for Canyon, El Modena and Orange High Schools, is required as the State of California must also approve the plans.  That process takes roughly nine months.

OUSD has not yet released any Measure S bonds.  Money spent on the projects thus far has come from a reserve fund the district promised to spend before issuing bonds. The district has not yet said when it plans to issue the bonds, so it is not known when payments will appear on tax bills.

Meanwhile, the Citizens Oversight Committee, a group appointed to monitor Measure S expenditures, held its first meeting last month.  Because there are no bond expenses yet to oversee, committee members spent that first meeting getting organized, electing officers and developing bylaws.  It plans to meet again in September.

Villa Park High School plans unveiled