NEWMAN - Construction of a swimming pool at Orestimba High School is the top priority among projects to be funded through a bond measure approved by Newman-Crows Landing Unified School District voters in November.
School board members reaffirmed the project priorities at their Feb. 8 meeting.
The swimming pool is followed on the priority list by construction of a new multi-purpose room at Von Renner Elementary and construction of a locker room complex at Orestimba, in that order.
Those projects are among the improvements that will be funded through Measure X, the $26 million bond measure approved in November, and about $1 million in carryover funds from a prior bond measure.
None will materialize immediately. Superintendent Randy Fillpot indicated pool construction is not expected to begin until the late spring or early summer of next year. Meeting that time frame would require financing against the first series of Measure X bond sales, which is not expected to occur until 2024.
He said the district hopes to reach a joint use agreement with the city to make the pool available for general community use outside of school hours and school events.
Fillpot said the Von Renner multi-use room could be five years into the future and the OHS locker rooms another three years later. However, he emphasized, those projects could proceed more quickly if the district’s assessed value gains exceed the projections on which the time table for future bond sales is based. The district could also finance against the future bond sales to access funding more quickly.
The first priority, however, is the swimming pool, which will be paired with a tennis court project and reconfiguration of access to the Orestimba High parking lot.
Fillpot said that the pool alone is estimated to cost $6.2 million. The district last year attempted to complete the parking lot project and build six new tennis courts (including four on campus and two in nearby Lions Park), using $1.2 million in remaining funds from a previous bond.
But bids came in well over twice the estimated cost of less than $1 million, and the district declined to proceed with the project at that time.
By combining the projects, Fillpot said, the district hopes to secure more competitive bids.
The superintendent noted that pool plans have yet to be submitted to the Division of the State Architect (DSA) for approval.
The district will not go to bid on the project until it has DSA approval in hand, he said, which could take six months.
“It may be fall before we could go to bid,” Fillpot told the board. That time frame, he said, would mean the pool did not break ground until late spring or summer of next year.
The process may include board authorization for the district to issue a financing tool known as a bond anticipation note, which would be repaid by the initial bond sale in 2024.
“It is a great way of accessing the money to get a project done sooner rather than later,” Fillpot commented.
Board member Vern Snodderly questioned whether one of the other projects may be in position to move forward ahead of the pool.
“If we have something that is ready to go out to bid and get started, I would hate to just sit here if we can get something going,” he stated.
Fillpot said the district currently has DSA approval only on the tennis court/parking lot project.
He also suggested that the projects would occur sequentially, not simultaneously.
“We are never going to have time to do all three in one year,” he told the board. “That is just not going to happen.”
Measure X passed with nearly 60 percent voter approval. The measure does not increase the current tax rate paid by district voters for existing bond measures. It does, however, extend the existing tax rates which otherwise would have began falling in approximately 2026 as existing bond debt was retired.