West Contra District Implementing Master Plan


The creation of the West Contra District’s Facilities Master Plan and Implementation Plan was apparently stimulated when its Measure H was defeated in June 2014.

This literally closed the source of bond money badly needed by the district. Out of its 50 schools, 21 required different levels of repairs.

According to the correspondent Rick Radin, the Fresno-based Darden Associates helped the district in the preparation of its plan.

Through interactions with the community with site visits and building analysis, Darden Associates believed that the district has to produce about $1.12 billion to elevate its schools standards to modern levels.

The voters of West Contra have pursued bond measures for more than 18 years now and generated $1.6 billion. But the district has already used up if not allocated $1.4 billion of that amount for repairs or replacement of the rest of the schools.

A portion of this amount is the $250 million for the currently constructed new Pinole Valley High School.

Radin stated that the board approved this week the contract for the new Superintendent Matthew Duffy to replace Bruce Harter, who is due for retirement by June 30.

The school trustees recently approved the use of the remaining $164.7 million from bond money and bonding capacity for particular replacement and repairs.

As reflected in the Master Plan, replacement of Wilson Elementary will start in January and be completed by July 2020 while Lake elementary construction will be initiated by July 2019 and completed towards July 2023.

During construction, Wilson will temporarily hold classes at the Portola Middle School in El Cerrito.

According to Darden, Wilson construction cost would be $40.3 million and Lake about $66.1 million.

This included an annual cost construction increase of about 5 percent.

For critical repairs to be undertaken, around $74.9 million is the estimated requirement.

Included here are seismic upgrades for the following: Valley View Elementary, Middle School and Kennedy high schools in Richmond; Riverside Elementary in San Pablo, and; Crespi School in El Sobrante.

Next January is the schedule for seismic repairs of Richmond High while January 2020 is the target date to initiate Kennedy High upgrades.

If the district would be successful come 2018 to pass a seventh bond measure, Darden showed a schedule that would hasten the completion of various scheduled activities.

In that case, new buildings can be constructed and completed ahead of schedule for the Highland Elementary in San Pablo as well as Valley View and Stege elementary schools in Richmond.

This will also enable the district to partly replace Richmond High School.

According to Radin, the Associate Superintendent of Business Sheri Gamba submitted to the Trustees a report where projects of more than $28 million would be in deficit spending over the next three fiscal years from the district’s unrestricted general fund budget.

The report showed that about $12.3 million will be left by 2018-19 from its reserves level of almost $39 million in 2016-17.

For the West Contra Costa to maintain a $25.5 million reserves level after three years, Gamba urged the board to decrease the projected deficit by having a permanent budget cuts of $ 1 million this year and $6 million in 2017-18.

In their next meeting, the Trustees are expected to adopt a 2016-17 budget.

Rob Clark

SchoolCampus.org admin staff managing editor

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