PROPOSITION BB ACCELERATION ENTERS CONSTRUCTION PHASE
ACROSS THE DISTRICT
The acceleration of modernization projects under
Proposition BB in the Sweetwater Union High School District
is in full throttle this month-with more than $41 million in
construction at three schools currently underway.
New classrooms, science labs and miles of underground
sewer and electrical lines are already taking shape at Bonita
Vista High School ($14.3 million), Castle Park High School ($13.8
million) and Southwest Middle School ($13.1 million). And by
June 21-the day after the school year ends-construction will
begin at an additional eight schools bringing the total "construction
in-progress" to $130 million at 11 schools.
The good news is that the "Summer Sprint" projects
at five middle schools will be completed over the summer months,
a deliberate move by the district to save money on costly relocatable
"This is the largest construction effort in the
district's 85-year history," said Board President Jim Cartmill.
"Not only are we modernizing classrooms all over the district,
we are building a new high school in the Otay Ranch area, and
are in the design phase for another high school."
The dust will have barely settled on the spring
and summer projects when the district will begin construction
at six more schools. By the end of this first phase of construction,
nearly every campus in the district will have received benefits
from Proposition BB-11 years ahead of the original construction
"Each classroom being modernized will be upgraded
to the new district standards bringing in data, power and other
special utility requirements, including energy efficient lighting,
as well as new science workstations, teaching walls and shelving
for storage to meet or exceed the newly adopted Education Code
requirements," said Katy Wright, Director of Planning and Construction.
"Additionally, this phase of work involves upgrading the underground
utilities so that each campus is capable of handling future
Accelerating Proposition BB modernization and
construction is one result of the two-year process that created
the district's Long-Range Facilities Master Plan, which was
accepted by the board last July. This year's construction campaign
represents Phases 1a and 1b. The Long-Range Facilities Master
Plan also further defines and envisions future phases (Phase
1c, Phase 1d, Phase 1e) to bring all classrooms and teaching
spaces up to the district's 21st Century standards.
The acceleration makes financial sense for the
district, Sweetwater officials said. "With escalating material
and labor costs eroding our purchasing power, the board supported
our recommendation to sell the balance of the Prop. BB bonds,
$96 million, giving us the ability to accelerate our timeline
by as many as 11 years," said Bruce Husson, Sweetwater's Chief
Selling the balance of the bonds last October
also allowed the district to leverage the $187 million that
voters passed through Proposition BB with a state match of $138
million for a total of $325 million that is being used to modernize
classrooms, district officials said.
To support Sweetwater in its aggressive schedule,
the district hired Harris-Gafcon in 2003 to perform program
management services related to the design, bid/award and construction
of all modernization work. The Harris-Gafcon team is led by
Program Director Randall Duncan, who is accustomed to accelerating
large construction programs. Duncan spent several years leading
the damage assessment and rebuilding efforts at California State
University, Northridge following the Northridge earthquake.
"Executing Sweetwater's plan was daunting at
first-given the compressed schedule on the entire program-but
we were up to the challenge," Duncan said. "We have been able
to attract, pre-qualify and retain some of the best firms in
the industry to assist the district in this effort."
Among those firms are four architectural firms-LPA
Architects, Roesling Nakamura Terada Architects, Trittipo Architectural
and Planning and GKK Education-hired in July, 2003, to work
simultaneously on 22 projects at 19 schools. Last fall, five
construction management firms also were hired to manage construction
at each school site. The construction management firms under
contract are C.W. Driver, Inc., Douglas E. Barnhart, Inc, Swinerton
Management and Consulting, Inc., Rudolph and Sletten, Inc. and
"Our principals, teachers and students are excited
by what is happening," said Superintendent Ed Brand. "Sweetwater
community members, including our Bond Oversight Committee, have
been very supportive and pleased with our progress this past
year. By this time next year, we'll be starting a new chapter
in educational facilities."
To get regularly updated information on the work
happening at each school, log on to the district's website at