All three Vallecito Union School District campuses will receive much-needed facelifts in the coming months as the district utilizes the $11 million bond proceeds authorized by Measure E in the November election.
The actual dollar amount that the district will receive from the passage of Measure E may be even higher, as Avery Middle School is eligible for another $850,000 in state funding for campus upgrades if the district matches with $560,000.
The measure was marketed to voters as a conduit for repairs and improvements at all VUSD schools and passed by a landslide. Now, plans are in motion to begin a variety of projects.
“I was a little overwhelmed, surprised and gratified by how easily it passed,” VUSD Superintendent Jim Frost told the Enterprise on Dec. 17. “I was hoping in my heart of hearts that we would reach the 58-percent threshold. We surpassed that, and I was elated and thankful that our community showed us that level of support.”
The improvements are expected to begin in the spring, with the district first tackling some of its most pressing upgrades such as the replacement of outdated diesel-powered boiler systems and leaky, rotting roofs, as well as fresh exterior paint at all three schools.
“We have a whole laundry list of things,” Frost said. “A lot of this stuff is frankly not glamorous. It’s infrastructure stuff that has to be done. … A lot of people don’t appreciate what it means to have a nice new roof on our building or have heat and air that works.”
Frost added that there will also be a number of “shiny new things” once repair projects are finished. The district plans to modernize Avery Middle School with a resurfaced track and field and a brand new multipurpose room with a centralized kitchen, and to equip both elementary schools with shade structures for outdoor lunch use.
Other additions may include new flagpoles and classrooms to replace the portables at Albert Michelson Elementary School in Murphys.
“We’re certainly hopeful that we can get everything we want,” Frost said. “We’ll know better when we get the architect’s estimate.”
The school district reached out to TETER Architects and Engineers last spring, and employees at the company have toured the school sites over the past week.
“We’re excited to help them solve their heating program and finally get things moving on the project,” said Jamie Hickman, architect and partner at TETER, on Dec. 18. “Things have started picking up momentum.”
The $11 million bond is an 18-year extension of the 3-cents-per-$100 assessed valuation that taxpayers have been paying toward an old bond that is set to expire within the next three years.
According to law, all expenditures will be reviewed and audited by a citizens’ oversight committee, and funds must be utilized exclusively for improvements and building projects within the district.