June 2019

OUSD assigns last of Measure S

Phase 1 funds; looks ahead to Phase 2

By Tina Richards

A contract for the construction of the new science center at Canyon High School was awarded to low bidder Swinerton Builders by the OUSD Board of Trustees, May 9.

Swinerton’s bid of $38.4 million came in below the $42.5 million budgeted for the project from Measure S bond funds. Construction of the 61,000-sq.-ft. science center, demolition of the aging kitchen facility to make room for it, plus attendant infrastructure improvement will take an estimated 2.5 years.  

Canyon’s Measure S facility was the last one of the four high school projects to be contracted (groundbreaking, June 8). Work is already underway at Orange, El Modena and Villa Park.

Each of the four schools was allotted $72 million of the $288 million in bond money approved by taxpayers. Money not spent on a school’s science center is allocated to “Phase 2” construction, renovation or refurbishment of facilities on that campus.

Phase 2 countdown
Preliminary Phase 2 plans for El Modena and Villa Park High School were presented to the board of trustees during a study session held prior to the 7 p.m. public meeting. Plans at El Modena call for removal of the administration building and replacing it with a two-story facility with classrooms on the second floor, or expanding the existing admin building and building a new one-story five-classroom building. 

The options presented for Villa Park were primarily the removal of one building and the addition of another with 18 classrooms.  One option left five portables on campus, another left 10. Neither new building included restrooms.

A handful of VPHS advocates attended the study session and made their dissatisfaction with the proposed Phase 2 work known during the public meeting. Six people noted that, despite the “promises” of the $288 million bond, Villa Park High School would still rely on portable classrooms. “I supported Measure S,” said one speaker.  “Our understanding was that there would be no more portables. That was key to our support.”

“I’m all for science and technology,” said another, “but we need to see those portables gone.”

No rest for the weary
Constituent Deborah Pauly pointed out that despite the bathrooms at VPHS being “a huge problem,” the new buildings did not include restrooms. “You need to come back with plans that have no portables and buildings with bathrooms.”  Another commenter referred to the current campus restrooms as deplorable.

Two additional speakers applauded the Phase 2 concepts, with one suggesting that the anti-portable faction was “people who didn’t support the bond and are now railroading its progress.”

Speaker Bob Walters questioned the lack of facilities for non-college bound students. “How about some shop classrooms?” he asked. “You need provisions for kids who will be entering trade unions.”

At this point, the Phase 2 proposals are just that. OUSD stresses that the proposals have been reviewed by “stakeholders,” but those who attended the study session report that most of the stakeholders were staff, administrators, faculty and students. “The only stakeholders that count,” one disgruntled attendee remarked, “are the people paying for this bond.”