District prepares for bond measure to replace aged Middle School
by Peter Burke
Feb 20, 2014 | 1826 views | 5 5 comments | 36 36 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The Scotts Valley Unified School District Board of Directors is in the final planning stages of putting a $35 million bond measure on the June ballot.

The district board met Tuesday in a public workgroup to discuss the language that will be part of a ballot measure that, if passed, would result in the tear-down and rebuild of Scotts Valley Middle School. Additionally, bond monies would improve earthquake and fire safety at Brook Knoll and Vine Hill elementary schools and with remaining monies, upgrade the technology infrastructure in the district.

According to current rates, homeowners would see an increase on their property tax bills of $57 per $100,000 assessed value, paid back over a 25 year period. The measure would require a 55-percent “yes” vote to pass.

Planning for the bond measure has been going on for about a year.

“We have done a lot of work to bring us to this point,” Superintendent Penny Weaver told the board after the Tuesday meeting.

In May 2013, the district received a comprehensive needs assessment report performed by Sally Swanson Architects that included input from many people in the district.

The board then received facilities reports in August and September 2013 that identified the specific structural, electrical, and safety issues at each of the school campuses. The full reports can be found at the district website, www.scottsvalleyusd.org.

Additionally, the facilities reports found deteriorating and inadequate fire safety systems at both elementary schools and seismic structural problems.

Based on the findings, the district board decided that passing a bond to rebuild Scotts Valley Middle School and improve safety at the elementary schools is the most feasible option.

The district has until March 7 to deliver an election order to the Santa Cruz County Clerk’s office.

The process picked up steam in January when the district hired bond counsel David Casnocha of Stradling’s Attorney’s at Law to draft language for the bond measure and ballot statement.

A draft of the ballot measure is available. The draft reads:

“To replace the 70-year-old Middle School with a new school, with up-to-date computer/learning technology, science labs, code-compliant/energy efficient electrical, plumbing, heating/cooling systems; upgrade, construct, acquire classrooms, schools, facilities, sites/equipment that meet accessibility requirements; make needed seismic repairs at elementary schools, and qualify for State matching funds, shall Scotts Valley Unified School District issue $35,000,000 in bonds, at legal rates, with independent oversight, no funds for administrators, all funds staying local?”

The full ballot text will be available on Friday.

The board will decide at its regular board meeting, 6 p.m., Tuesday, Feb. 25 at Scotts Valley City Hall, 1 Civic Center Drive, whether to submit the ballot measure for the June 3 primary election.

An opinion poll of 250 district voters was performed by Gene Bregman of Gene Bregman and Associates. The poll found that voters’ top priorities were repairing leaky roofs, making schools safe from asbestos and dry rot and updating electrical systems to make them safe and bringing them up to code.

This will be the third bond measure the district has put to voters within the last 12 years. Voters rejected the first two, Measure B — a $44.2 million measure in 2002, and Measure Q — a $55 million measure in 2008.

However, Scotts Valley voters overwhelmingly passed a parcel tax in June 2012 designed to prevent layoffs of teachers and staff. Bond monies can only be used for construction-related costs, while the parcel tax was used for salaries.

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SV Res and Architect
March 18, 2014
Demolishing and then building a new SVMS is necessary and will only benefit the SV home owners in the long run by providing the total package for public school offering in the county. The additional funds for seismic upgrades to be performed at Vine Hill and Brook Knoll Elementary is a basic life safety issue with all the building science fully vetted as to how these structures will perform in a significant seismic event. Regarding the cost of the new school at $33MM; hard bids are of course necessary to solidify the construction budget, but the bids are only as good as the construction documents (drawings, specifications, and contracts) provided to the contractors to perform their take-offs. Budget overruns most often arise from a lack of information in the design documents, which then results in added scope (i.e. change orders).

If there is one thing the City can do to keep a large project such as this on schedule and within budget, it is to to engage a highly reputable third party architectural/engineering consulting firm to perform a pre-construction plan review of all construction documents including drawings, specifications, schedule, and contracts. That would at least ensure the design documents that a contractor provides a bid from, captures all work necessary to produce the middle school that the SV residents will hopefully agree to pay for.

One additional layer of defense, once the design documents are fully vetted by professional peer review, is to engage the same A&E firm to provide Owner's Representation for the City during the course of construction. This is the only way I know to ensure the funds requested each month by the general contractor, reflects actual work performed that period and the project has a significantly reduced potential to exceed the budget or schedule while not "value engineering" (usually removing or substituting with inferior materials) parts of the project. It would also provide additional assurances that the project is being built in accordance with the contract documents and is meeting all industry and manufacturer standards for quality of installation.

In my experience the fee for these services always pays for itself, and then some.
February 25, 2014
I'd rather see one bond, with ONLY the Middle School, nothing else, no slush, keep all of the other projects separate... one bond, one building (or project) and that being the Middle School ONLY!! This is why it failed last time. They couldn't convince voters that all the "other stuff" that got tacked onto the bond was really vital and important. Make it simple. Is it going to hurt yet, but at least there will be no doubt at the end what the painful efforts were for.
SV Home owner
February 25, 2014
here is the problem. We are going to get hit with yet another "tax". Call it what you want but it is still a TAX. We are being TAXED to death. Do i think we need another middle school? yes! however we are still paying for Cabrillo bonds. The last time SV built a school it was the High School and it was a disaster. No. Once the other bonds, taxes have run out maybe but not before. NO NEW TAXES
SV Resident
February 21, 2014
Here is a link to the Agenda Item for this bond at the SVUSD Feb 25 meeting. GO ASK QUESTIONS.


The technology portion of this Bond in my opinion is wasteful and will be outdated before it is no longer usable.

"The upgrading of technology infrastructure includes but is not limited to,servers, switches, routers, modules,smart boards, sound projection systems,printers, digital white boards, document projectors,upgrade voice over IP, call manager and network firewall and other misc technology equipment."

This is a MIDDLE SCHOOL. I work in high tech and we don't even use "smart boards" or "digital white boards" we have these great inventions called PENS, they're extremly cost effective and you can even erase them!!
SV Resident
February 21, 2014

Sticker shock. I was in favor of this but after seeing the price tag I'm having second thoughts. Where are the bids? Who came up with the $35m number? I'm no realtor but I would guess the avg house in SV costs about 600k, which would cost a homeowner an additional $342 per year for 25 yrs, or $8,550 in total. When does the cabrillo college bond expire that I'll be paying for again in another month when my property taxes are due?The middle school needs to be rebuilt, and if this is truly the cost then I'll eat it, but I want to see bids with real itemized estimates, no slush funds. The city needs to reassure residents that this will not be SV High School all over again and provide some concrete proof. I don't care if you made phone calls asking people if they would like a new middle school.Seriously, City of SV leaders and Penny Weaver, start campaigning now.

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