NEWMAN - Initial proceeds from a $35 million bond measure going before Newman-Crows Landing Unified School District voters in March would pay off existing debt and fund construction of a competition pool at Orestimba, under a proposed priority list presented by Superintendent Randy Fillpot.
Fillpot mapped out a proposed priority list for the school board at its Nov. 18 meeting.
If voters approve the school bond, the $35 million in proceeds would be received incrementally over a period of 12 years. The initial bond series would be in 2021 and yield about $8.4 million, Fillpot explained, with the second delivering an estimated $7 million three years later. The final series of bonds would not be sold until 2033.
Against that backdrop, Fillpot said, bond-funded projects must be timed in accordance with the availability of funds.
The district will retain flexibility in use of those proceeds, he said, but at the same time must develop a plan spelling out how it intends to use the money.
He recommended using the initial proceeds to pay off remaining debt from construction of Yolo Middle School and build a pool at Orestimba which would be available for both school and community use.
That would take up most of the initial $8.4 million in bond proceeds, Fillpot said.
Caralyn Mendoza, the district’s chief business official, estimated that the remaining principal on the Yolo debt would be just under $3.4 million. Paying off the obligation would save nearly $650,000 in interest, she told Mattos Newspapers.
A pool has been identified as a high priority by the school board. While the district would use bond funds for pool construction under the scenario presented, Fillpot previously said, that would also require working out a partnership with the city on maintenance costs.
Some preliminary improvements at Orestimba could take place in advance of a pool project, Fillpot noted.
He said the district anticipates having about $2 million in remaining bond funds following completion of a Yolo classroom wing that is under construction. With that money, he said, the district could replace the aging tennis courts at Orestimba and reconfigure access to the high school parking lot to provide entry off Hardin Road.
He said the tennis courts will be moved to what is currently a dirt lot used for overflow parking. That will still leave room for a pool at the corner of Park and Hardin (where a home which the district is purchasing now stands), and open up space adjacent to the gymnasium for a new locker room.
Fillpot said the school ideally needs six tennis courts for competitions (it currently has four). The six courts could be squeezed into the space available if need be, he said, but that would restrict pool decking area and access between the courts and the planned locker rooms.
But Fillpot said he has also discussed with city officials the possibility of locating two tennis courts in the nearby Lions Park. If that could be worked out, he said, only four would be required on district property, freeing up more space for a pool.
Fillpot said the district will conduct a traffic study in conjunction with the city before proceeding with the parking lot access configuration. But, he noted, district officials believe access off Hardin Road would improve the traffic flow.
He estimated that those improvements would cost about $1 million.
Under the scenario presented by Fillpot, the second round of funding in 2024 would be allocated to a locker room/multi-sport practice facility at Orestimba.
A multi-use room at Von Renner is also needed, Fillpot acknowledged, but he does not anticipate having enough money available from the second round of funding to do both.
“I really think the locker rooms are going to be somewhere between $5 million and $7 million,” he stated.
Board members were supportive of the recommended priorities, although RoseLee Hurst expressed a concern about not being able to address the needs at Von Renner more quickly.
“I am an advocate of everything I have seen. I am worried about Von Renner being at the end of that list,” Hurst said. “It is really sad at Von Renner.”
Fillpot reiterated that he expects the debt repayment and pool project to exhaust the first round of funding, and said that if the board chose to make Von Renner the top priority over the OHS locker rooms with the 2024 funds it could do so.
But, he stressed. “there is not enough to do both (in 2024).”
Caralyn Mendoza, the district’s chief business official, pointed out that “the Von Renner multi-purpose room is very small but it is still functional. The locker room is in really rough shape.”
Fillpot reiterated that point in a subsequent interview with Mattos Newspapers.
“The cafeteria is still workable. It is not ideal,” he commented. “It is working. The locker rooms are really not working any more. I think that is the priority.”
Orestimba wrestler Anakaren Jimenez spoke at the board meeting in favor of the locker room/practice facility project. The wrestling program has been growing, she said, and the portable classroom which serves as a wrestling room is inadequate for the program needs.
While the board was supportive of the project list, Fillpot said he also hopes to survey families to get community feedback on the proposed prioritization.
“We would like to get their feedback on what they think is important,” he stated.
The school bond, Measure K, requires 55 percent voter approval for passage.
The measure would raise property taxes by $60 per $100,000 of assessed value.