Login to Claremont COURIER

CUSD inches closer to completing Measure G upgrades

Claremont Unified School District’s wide ranging Measure G funded improvement projects will continue throughout the upcoming 2019-2020 school year.

The district says the various projects, funded by the $58 million general obligation bonds approved by Claremont voters in November 2016, are proceeding on time and nearly at budget.

“We’re pretty close,” said CUSD’s Executive Director of Facilities and Project Management Rick Cota. “We’re basically down to our last couple projects. As far as budget-wise we are very, very close.”

Remaining projects include the just underway $11 million new student center building at  Claremont High, with demolition of the old building set to begin over the next two weeks; CHS’s music building upgrade, which will begin after the student center is complete; locker room upgrades at El Roble and CHS; swimming pool refurbishments at El Roble and CHS; and remaining smaller general modernization projects district-wide.

Installation of new permanent modular classrooms at Vista del Valle and Condit elementary schools started in mid-June. Both projects are scheduled to be complete over the winter break and will ready to house students when they come back to school after winter break in January 2020, Mr. Cota said.

El Roble Intermediate, Sumner Danbury, Chaparral, Mountain View, Oakmont and Sycamore elementary schools have already seen completion of their own new permanent modular classrooms.

The overall cost of the modular classroom installations is $24,206,000.

Bids to upgrade locker rooms at El Roble were recently received and are in the process of being vetted. Final bids for the swimming pool and locker room projects at both El Roble and CHS were received this past Tuesday. A decision on which contractor(s) that will be awarded the jobs will be made in the coming weeks, Mr. Cota said.

The district had hoped to begin both pool/locker room projects, which will run concurrently, in June, but it appears shovels will now hit the ground in early September barring any further delays. The pool construction jobs, which also include new restroom facilities and decking, as well as other upgrades, could take up to 10 months to complete, Mr. Cota said.

The district will have a clearer view of where the final numbers will land on the pool and locker room projects within the next couple of weeks when it selects a contractor, Mr. Cota said.

“With the last bid opening here [Tuesday] we’re hopeful” the pool and locker room numbers will be within budget, he added.

Claremont voters approved the $58 million Measure G bonds in November 2016. Thus far, CUSD has tapped the bonds for more than $52 million in two phased authorizations. The district has spent or has purchase orders for $35,071,280 over both phases, A and B, with $17,577,347 remaining in the coffers to pay for the completion of second phase projects.

The bonds’ remaining balance approximately $6 million will be spent on district-wide general classroom modernization projects such as HVAC, windows, paint and flooring, completing the Measure G improvement undertaking.

Projects completed in phase A include district-wide roof repair or replacement; a new floor, bleachers, doors and HVAC system at CHS’s large gym; energy efficient lighting installation across the district; and energy efficient HVAC systems installed at nearly half the school sites, with complete replacement happening over the next year.

The district pulled all possible permits and got as many approvals from state and county building officials well before Measure G passed in November 2016. This has helped to lure an abundance of contractors to the bidding process because they know the Measure G projects are essentially good to go, and work can begin without delay, Mr. Cota said.

Construction costs have been rising, partially due to the Trump administration’s tariffs on steel and other goods, Mr. Cota said.

“It actually has a domino effect,” Mr. Cota said of the tariffs. “Everybody is increasing their costs on steel, aluminum, fuel and some other things that may not have a direct correlation to the project, but still may influence the bottom line. The best thing we can do is to try to get our projects completed sooner than later, knowing that prices will continue to escalate, regardless of tariffs or any other political influences.”

CUSD helped itself by getting state approval for many of the Measure G projects long before construction began, Mr. Cota said. Having pre-approved, ready to go projects when bids were being accepted increased interest from contractors. The by-product of that interest has been more competition among contractors and lower costs to the district.

“That definitely has helped us. Instead of five guys showing up, I’m getting 25,” Mr. Cota said.

CUSD families and students recently received information regarding the expected traffic and ingress and egress issues arising from construction over the coming school year, as well as impacts on students on the various campuses that will see construction, Mr. Cota said.

“There will be some effect, whether it be noise or dust,” Mr. Cota said. “We are keeping everybody in the loop and having opportunities for families to ask us questions, because everyone’s excited about these projects, but they may be wondering, ‘Why is there a big hole in the ground?’ We know it’s going to be a team effort.

“Our intent is that we again finish these projects sooner than later so that we can maximize every dollar that the taxpayers gave us,” Mr. Cota said.

The district currently has one spot available on the citizens’ oversight committee, which is tasked with informing the public on how the Measure G money is being spent.

Residents interested in serving on the committee can get an application at the Richard S. Kirkendall Education Center Business Services Office at 170 W. San Jose Ave., or online at cusd.claremont.edu.

Completed applications must be hand-delivered no later than 4:30 p.m. on August 12. For information, call (909) 398-0609.

More information on Measure G, including a timeline for projects, is at claremont-ca.schoolloop.com/measureg.

—Mick Rhodes

mickrhodes@claremont-courier.com