Lincoln was passed over in previous moderization. Junior high campus needs $17 million in repairs, district says

Health and safety issues are taking front and center in the Taft City School District effort to pass a bond issue that will generate revenue for much-needed repairs and upgrades.
That was the message delivered by Supt. Ron Bryant at Wednesday’s weekly Taft Chamber of Commerce coffee klatch.
Bryant will present a resolution at next Wednesday’s school board meeting asking for authorization to place a $24 million bond issue on the June 5 ballot.
It will cost homeowners $1.50-$2 per month depending on their assessed valuation, he said.
The district has identified $27.3 million worth of upgrades, some of which have already been completed.  They include fire alarm and communication system upgrades, electrical, lighting efficiency improvements, asbestos abatement, roof repairs etc.
The greatest need is at Lincoln Junior High, which was bypassed completely in 2001 when voters overwhelmingly approved a $20 million bond issue.
“We’ve done some things already,” he said.  “We’ve painted and re-carpeted classrooms.  Our goal is to have a first-rate facility, but we need the support of the community.”
Bryant said a district-wide assessment actually pinpointed $45-$47 million in needed upgrades.
Jefferson, the newest campus in the district – built in 1985 – also was bypassed in the 2001 upgrades.
Both Jefferson and Lincoln still have swamp coolers, which, Bryant said, can have a detrimental impact on student learning during hot weather.
“It does affect learning,” he said.
Both also have “archaic boiler systems” for heat.
There is public support for another bond measure, Bryant said, pointing to a recent telephone survey of 370 likely voters that showed more than 60 percent approval.  Fifty-five percent is needed to pass a bond measure.
Health and safety is a key issue, Bryant said.
“We want to start in the classrooms and work our way out after the classrooms have been addressed.  A majority of the money will go to Lincoln.”
Cost projections show Lincoln getting $17 million worth of upgrades.
Estimates for the other schools:
Jefferson $3.5 million
Taft Primary $723,000
Parkview $541,000
Roosevelt $1.4 million
Conley $3.7 million
District facilities would get $430,000 in upgrades.
Projects are broken down into four categories: modernization ($10.5 million), new construction ($5.6 million), health and safety ($5.8 million) and technology ($607,000).
The bulk of modernization money ($8.3 million) will go to Lincoln with Jefferson and Conley getting just over $1 million each.
Most of the new construction ($4.7 million) will go for solar energy, which will qualify for a state contribution.
“The solar project will get us in line for state modernization money,” Bryant said.
Health and safety includes things like fire alarm/communication upgrades, upgraded playground surfaces, asbestos/lead paint abatement and improvements in handicapped accessibility.
He said the district, through the West Side Recreation and Park District, has applied for a grant to build a multi-purpose community facility at Conley School that will include a gymnasium and soccer field.
“It looks very promising for us.  It’s about a $4 million project.”