MUSD update on Measure R improvements

MARTINEZ, Calif. – The Martinez Unified School District (MUSD) will welcome about 4,200 students when school starts this week. The school board kicked-off the fall semester with a busy agenda including an update on the status of the $120 million Measure R school facility improvements at the Aug. 12 meeting.

John Muir Elementary will be a new school when work that began this summer is completed. If that is not enough good news, three projects are expected to be built for less than budgeted estimates and students will be able to stay on campus while the work is being done.

There are already plans for use of those savings to add the Martinez Early Intervention Pre-school to the John Swett Elementary School project by moving it to a new building on the 10-acre site.

Mitch Mcallister of California Design West Architects said they have three great contractors so the district should try to keep the momentum moving with jobs coming online, and control costs.

“If we slow down the improvements it could be as much as two years to go to the next project,” The implication of that is higher costs. The Las Juntas Elementary project is expected to be next.

For that reason, Helen Rossi suggested accelerating the Measure R bond releases and said the board may want to consider going for another bond of $60 million in Nov. 2020 to do work that will be needed by the time the existing Master Plan projects are done. “I’m just putting it out there,” Rossi remarked.

Board Vice President Kathi McLaughlin was hesitant about that. She said, “I don’t see the urgency to go out for another bond.”

Board Member John Fuller had another view. He perceives the Master Plan to be a fluid document. “It was not planned to be static,” Fuller stated.

He also said it is a communications matter. “We knew there was going to be another bond to get this all done….I am comfortable accelerating the bond releases. We should be ready to ask the community for another if we have a chance to get more bang for the buck,” Fuller opined.

Later in the discussion, he noted that right now interest rates are extremely low, making it a good time to borrow.

Jonathan Wright, the clerk of the board, agreed but he and Superintendent CJ Cammack also recommended bringing back the Master Plan Committee to take a look at what more is needed at John Muir Junior High School and Alhambra High School.

Cammack thought the public should be involved and when people see what the district has been able to do with the Measure R funds, they could be receptive to one more.

There have been a total savings of $7.75 million from original estimates on the JMJH, John Muir Elementary and Morello Park Elementary projects, according to Rossi’s report.

Even with those savings, there are still a variety of plan options to discuss for a final decision on the Las Juntas Elementary and Morello Park jobs.

At Las Juntas, quite a bit of the work has been done, including parking. The focus was on securing the campus while keeping the field as a public park when school is not in session.

The conversation focused on the problem of limited parking on a relatively smaller site and possible relocation of the Woodbridge Day-care facility there. Plans for Morello include the addition of two Kindergarten classrooms, increasing the size of the multi-use room and a better administration office.

Some decision regarding the next bond sale will have to be made soon, as the deadline for filing an application with the state is September 27.

There are too many details to include. The entire Aug. 12 meeting video including Rossi’s in-depth presentation is available online at the MUSD website.

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