NEWMAN - A March bond measure is at the forefront of priorities for the Newman-Crows Landing Unified School District heading into the new year.

Measure K, a $35 million measure, will go before Newman-Crows Landing voters in March.

District officials have identified priorities for the initial bond proceeds, which include paying off debt remaining from a previous facility project and constructing a pool at Orestimba which the community would be able to use. Revenue from a second series of bond sales in 2024 would likely be used to renovate aging locker rooms at Orestimba, according to the priority list presented to the school board in November. A number of other projects could also be funded through the Measure K as additional series of bonds are issued every three years through 2033, including renovation of the multi-use room at Von Renner Elementary.

Superintendent Randy Fillpot said the district will conduct an informational campaign to raise awareness of the needs that could be addressed through the bond measure.

“The best thing that we can do is just put out information,” he told Mattos Newspapers. “We have some projects that make sense not only for students but for the community as a whole. It is important that we keep it at the forefront.”

Fillpot said he believes the district has been a good steward of proceeds from past bond measures and thus has earned the confidence of the community.

But if for some reason the measure falls short of the 55 percent required for approval in March, he said, the district may very well re-assess the measure to see what changes may be appropriate and try again in November.

Facility projects

The community will see other bond-funded projects come to fruition in 2020.

Fillpot said a classroom wing under construction at Yolo Middle School will be open in time for the next school year.

That project, he noted, will provide much-needed classroom space at the middle school as well as an art room and additional restrooms. The classroom wing is scheduled for completion in June.

The district anticipates having about $2 million in remaining bond funds after completion of the Yolo wing. Fillpot said those funds will be used to begin the next round of improvements at Orestimba High. Those projects include re-configuring access to the main parking lot so vehicles will enter and exit campus off Hardin Road and construction of tennis courts in an area currently used for overflow parking. The school ideally should have six tennis courts, Fillpot said, and while that number could be squeezed into the available space and still leave room for a pool at Hardin and Park the preferred option is to work with the city to build two courts in nearby Lions Park and just four on campus.

The existing four tennis courts are deteriorating and in need of replacement. Fillpot said relocating the courts clears the space south of the gymnasium for the planned locker room project.

Academic focus

The district will also continue its ongoing focus on boosting student achievement, Fillpot emphasized.

The district has invested significantly in outside staff development programs, he said, and in the process has cultivated significant expertise among its staff. That will allow the district to more extensively rely on in-house training rather than sending educators to outside program, the superintendent explained.

“We have done a lot of training. It is time to begin implementing what we have been learning,” Fillpot commented. “We have a lot of expertise in-house. It is a matter of utilizing it.”

Literacy will be a continuing focus in the classroom, he added, as strong literacy skills are a foundation for success across all subject areas.

District administrators will also be closely evaluating programs as they look for budget-cutting options this year.

“One of the things when you pare back the budget is truly evaluating programs and how effective they are, and really trying to focus on what is important,” Fillpot explained. “The priority is always addressing instruction and learning at the sites.”