School board will consider bond approval, spending plans

School board will consider bond approval, spending plans

Michele Ellson

Schools leaders are set to issue $75 million in bonds for school construction projects and to consider which projects the money will pay for.

Tonight, the Board of Education will consider approving issuance of the first of three series of bonds and also, a list containing $6.3 million in roofing and paving projects schools officials hope to complete this summer. If the board signs off on issuing the bonds, district officials expect to have money in hand by May.

The board will also discuss additional projects at the Island’s elementary, middle and charter schools, with approval scheduled for January 27.

Drafted by the prior board, that larger list of projects includes safety and security projects – lights, locks, gates and fences – for all of the Island’s elementary, middle and charter schools, along with new clocks, bell, speaker and phone systems for those schools.

The to-be-approved list also includes mechanical and electrical work and new and refurbished classrooms – and removal of portable classrooms – at several schools. Wood Middle School, for example, would get three new classrooms for its science, technology, engineering, arts and math program, while Amelia Earhart Elementary School would get a new, six-room building.

All told, the list includes nearly $50 million for the district’s 10 elementary schools, $11.2 million for its two middle schools and $3.7 million for two charter school campuses. Work to be funded by the first series of bonds would start this year and be finished by 2019.

The summer work would include about $5.2 million for roofing projects on a dozen campuses and $1.1 million for paving fixes at five.

In November, voters approved Measure I, which allows the school district to issue $179.5 million in bonds to finance school construction projects. A schedule to be presented to the board tonight shows the first series of bonds being issued this year; a second series, for $40 million, issued in 2018; and a third and final series, for $64.5 million, issued in 2020. The final payment on the bonds would come due in 2045.

The bond money is to be used to fund school construction needs identified in a facility master plan the district put together over the last few years. About half of the money is to be used to cover facilities needs at elementary, middle and charter schools, while the rest is to pay for fixes at Alameda’s high schools.

Schools administrators have set dates for a pair of community meetings to discuss whether Alameda should retain both of its comprehensive high schools or create a single school. The meetings, where district officials will share information they’ve gathered and solicit input from the public, are scheduled for 7 p.m. January 29 at Wood Middle School and 7 p.m. February 5 at Encinal High School.

The school board is scheduled to conduct a study session on the future of Alameda’s high schools on February 17 at Alameda High School, and district staffers plan to offer a recommendation on whether the district should operate one comprehensive high school or two on February 24.

Separately, the board will receive a report on how district officials spent nearly $12 million in Measure A parcel tax money during the 2013-14 school year.

The meeting begins at 6:30 p.m. today at City Hall. An agenda and additional information about items the board will discuss are available on the school district’s website.