High school plans revised for Measure K funding

Modernization efforts at Orange High School include 12 new science labs; 20 classrooms; housing for administration and student services; renovations to provide for band and choral programs, football, wrestling and dance; a new snack bar and outdoor dining complex; Panther plaza and alumni corner; new and renovated restrooms.

Renovations at Canyon High School will include a new building housing 12 science labs and four 1,200-sq.-ft. classrooms; portables will be replaced with 18 classrooms for humanities and the arts.  Parking will be expanded and drop-off zones improved.

A new entrance at Villa Park High School will lead to a three-story science wing featuring 12 science labs and 30 1,200-sq.-ft. classrooms to replace buildings 300 and 500.   Buldings 100 and 200 will be remodeled with 24 classrooms.   The library will be modernized and additional faculty restrooms added.  

Architects for El Modena High School presented plans for a new science center with 12 labs and classrooms; renovated classrooms in buildings 200, 300, 500 and 600; a Vanguard center with six  classrooms; an atrium and student forum; new restrooms and elevators.  

High school plans revised for Measure K funding

By Tina Richards

The Orange Unified School District unveiled a revised set of architectural drawings depicting the “phase one” revamping of its four high schools if Measure K passes and funding becomes available.

The plans for El Modena, Canyon, Orange and Villa Park High Schools presented at the Oct. 2 school board meeting are scaled-down versions of the original “master plans” drafted before the bond measure was placed on the ballot.  Those plans included everything from performing arts centers to Olympic-sized swimming pools to state-of-the-art science facilities, gymnasiums, student centers, quads and improved parking lots.  With a price tag of nearly $200 million each, critics contended that the master plans did not accurately reflect the buying power of the $296 million bond, and that they served only to mislead voters.

OUSD admits that the master plans could not be built with Measure K funding; they were created as a “wish list” to illustrate what the future might hold, given enough money.  The district dispatched architects to meet with the four high school communities to find out what stakeholders wanted – with no holds barred.  The result was the palatial renderings introduced shortly before the OUSD board approved the bond measure.  

Back to basics

Subsequent surveys of residents and voters found that given the limitations of the proposed bond, what is really wanted is modernized classrooms and improved science facilities.  OUSD called the architects back to re-draw the master plans to reflect what improvements/refurbishments/repairs could be made on a $74 million-per-school budget.  The new plans are considered to be “phase one” of the overall master plan.

The short-term plans for each school focus on high-tech science centers and renovated and modernized classrooms.  The immediate goals are to replace portable classrooms with permanent buildings, improve infrastructure, increase student security, and create a learning environment employing computer network-based technology.  These modernization goals have already been showcased in a demonstration classroom at El Modena, completed in just six weeks last summer. 

The original master plans cost taxpayers just under $700,000.  OUSD spent around $300,000 on the phase one drawings to give voters a better understanding of what they can expect from their bond taxes.  The language in the bond measure, however, has not changed.  It is based on the original master plans that the district used “in developing the scope of projects to be funded.”  The legally binding language of Measure K consigns taxpayers to fund an all-inclusive list of repairs, renovations and improvements on an “as-needed basis” -- as defined by the school board. The measure also notes that bond funds will be used for “planning, assessment, studies and documentation” even before the first hole is dug.  How far the district can stretch the proposed 30-year, $296 million debt will be discretionary and subject to change.