NEWMAN - Proceeds from the most recent bond measure approved by Newman-Crows Landing Unified School District voters funded improvement projects at campuses across the district.
An additional bond measure being pondered by district leaders is more likely to focus on two schools most in need of upgrades, said Superintendent Randy Fillpot, Orestimba High and Von Renner Elementary.
“This bond is going to look a little different because the biggest needs are at the high school and Von Renner,” Fillpot commented. “That is really where the immediate needs are. Every other site is pretty much caught up.”
While the prospective bond measure is still in its formative stages, a community survey tentatively planned for early fall is likely to focus largely on the willingness of voters to support a bond measure which funds improvements at those two sites.
Fillpot recently outlined the needs at each.
Orestimba’s facility shortcomings, he said, range from aging locker rooms to inadequate administrative office space to a classroom shortage.
“There is still a need for classrooms. We are currently utilizing every classroom,” Fillpot told Mattos Newspapers.
But the support facilities are also lacking, he emphasized.
“If people saw the inside of the locker rooms they would realize that they need to be (replaced). It is really cheaper to build a new one than to try to remodel, and the locker rooms are too small anyway,” Fillpot stated. “I would say that the locker room is by far the most important thing, and right behind that is the administration building. We have really outgrown that.”
The scenario for Orestimba which Fillpot laid out before the school board involves:
• Additional classroom space.
• Construction of a new locker room facility (and possibly a restroom/concession stand) where the tennis courts are now located. Tennis courts could be relocated to what is now a dirt parking area adjacent to the primary parking lot.
• Construction of a new administration building in what is now a lawn area between the primary parking lot and library building.
The possibility of adding a pool to the bond project list has also been discussed, Fillpot noted.
Von Renner has needs as well, he noted, perhaps the most pressing of which is replacement of the existing multi-use building/cafeteria, which Fillpot said is extremely under-sized for the enrollment.
Von Renner also needs additional administrative space, he noted, and may need more classroom space.
Another potential bond-funded project is the development of staff housing.
Staff surveyed expressed interest in the district offering housing assistance, Fillpot said, so voters will also be surveyed on that question.
Fillpot said the district has in some cases been unable to hire qualified teaching candidates because they could not find housing locally.
He said he believes the issue is more one of housing availability than affordability.
A pivotal question, he said, remains that of whether the district is willing - and voters would support - a program which took money away from campus projects to develop staff housing.
Fillpot has said the district will most likely place a bond measure before voters at some point in 2020 - with March appearing to be the preferable date.
He said voters will be surveyed this fall about their level of support for a school bond, and what bound amount and projects would be most likely to be backed at the polls.
If the district goes go with a March 2020 election, Fillpot noted, the board would most likely have to make that decision no later than this November.