School board members, from left, Dave Keller, Joleen Cline and Leslie Edlund discuss priorities for projects to be funded under Measure B at the board’s special meeting May 17 in Quincy. Photos by Steve Wathen

School board continues to debate Measure B spending

The latest version of the priority list for Measure B projects was given to the Plumas Unified School District board May 10.

Since then, individual school board members have been taking the priority list with them on visits to local schools.

The principals at those schools have also been looking at their schools and making plans on how to fix up their schools.

“They are just ‘amped,’ they are so excited,” exclaimed PUSD board member Joleen Cline at the May 17 school board meeting. “They have already started calling around pricing things,” she said.

For instance, Cline mentioned one school where kindergarteners’ feet don’t touch the floor in their classroom because their chairs are too high. The principal there can’t wait to get the right sized chairs for the kids.

Low-hanging fruit

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What Cline and other board members have discovered is that a lot of the projects, perhaps a third on the priority list, might be able to be accomplished this year, depending on the availability of contractors.

Board member Traci Holt added, “I agree with Joleen, there is a tremendous amount of work that can be done for students before they come back to school next September.”

The district is referring to these “low hanging fruit,” as “fast track” items. These projects don’t require architectural designs, and so don’t need approval from the California Division of the State Architect before they can begin.

Projects that require DSA approval are being referred to as “long-term” projects. These include roofing projects, projects involving wheelchair access as well as gyms, parking lots and play fields with serious drainage issues.

Impact of long-term projects

Long-term projects are often the most expensive projects, require the most lead-time until construction can begin and  may take years to complete.

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For instance, a new floor for the gym at Greenville High School is estimated to cost $400,000. Engineering designs for the gym floor are estimated to cost $80,000, which will include designs for drainage work needed to remedy the cause for moisture buildup under the floor in the first place.

The district has started contracting with an architectural firm in order to get the Greenville High School gym project off the ground.

In addition, some smaller projects can’t be started until the long-term projects they are associated with are finished.

These include the painting of outside walls located under leaky roofs scheduled to be replaced, the installation of window coverings for windows being upgraded to dual pane and the painting of interior walls in buildings that are scheduled for electrical upgrades.

Traditional maintenance projects

Board members have also discovered in their visits to schools that a lot of the smaller projects on the district’s Measure B priority list are really maintenance issues.

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The board has decided that routine maintenance issues shouldn’t be paid for with Measure B funds. “This is special money for special things,” said Cline, referring to Measure B funds.

These projects will be taken care of this year by the district’s regular maintenance crews or by using contractors. Local contractors are strongly encouraged to bid on these contracts.

Cavin noted there was money available for these maintenance projects without using Measure B funds.

A long-term maintenance plan

Board members are concerned that the work being paid for with Measure B funds is done right and will last for decades.

Cline said, “I need to be assured that these expensive repairs are not going into disrepair again. This is not a seven-year band aid.”

Cline, who works with homeowners associations, said it is routine for homeowners’ associations to have trust funds set up to pay for long-term maintenance.

Cavin told the board that the state used to pay for school maintenance, but has since stopped doing so. When the state matched money for school maintenance, school districts were required to spend at least 3 percent of their budgets on school maintenance.

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Even without the state paying for part of school maintenance, PUSD is still required to pay at least 3 percent of its budget on maintenance. Cavin said there is a district fund to hold this 3 percent.

Cavin pointed out that PUSD routinely spends more than 3 percent on maintenance. However, there is no fund that holds more than the 3 percent required for maintenance.

Calvin said that the district used a program called School Dude to track and schedule routine maintenance projects.

Ordering in bulk

The board also discussed ordering some items in mass in order to get a discounted price. For instance, purchasing classroom furniture for several schools at one time.

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Cavin pointed out that it was possible to work with furniture wholesalers to help design the interior of classrooms. The furniture wholesaler will then ship in the chosen furniture for teachers to try out for a few months.

District Superintendent Terry Oestreich estimated, for instance, that $110,000 would be enough to get all new furniture for every classroom at Quincy Elementary School.

What’s next?

The board spent time at the meeting going through the Measure B project priority list school by school. Board members took turns listing which projects could be fast tracked for this year and which projects were long-term

Board members also added projects to the Measure B priority list that they felt were plainly needed, based upon their visits to individual schools.

The consensus seemed to be that a subcommittee should be formed at each school site to continue fine-tuning priorities.

Long-term projects will begin as soon as possible and then will move forward as preceding steps are accomplished.

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The board felt that determining priorities for Pioneer School in Quincy would have to wait until the school district has a better idea about its plans for the site.

The Pioneer school site is currently being used to house Plumas Charter School and by PUSD to house a kindergarten and a special day school. Plumas Charter School will be vacating the Pioneer site by June 2019.

Measure B was a proposition passed by the voters of Plumas County in November 2016. The voters agreed to spend up to $50 million rebuilding the school district’s infrastructure, necessary after decades of deferred maintenance.

Staffing

From left: Ray Bakker and Ken Pierson. Pierson is retiring at the end of June as director of transportation and operations. Bakker was recently hired as maintenance and operations supervisor for the district. His son, Kyle Bakker, not shown, will become the district’s new transportation supervisor.

Ken Pierson, director of transportation and operations, is retiring at the end of June. Pierson’s position is being split into two supervisor positions.

Ray Bakker was introduced to the board as the new maintenance and operations supervisor for the district.

His son, Kyle Bakker, will be the district’s new transportation supervisor.

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The board also discussed the advantages of having some district maintenance people permanently stationed in far-flung communities in order to reduce the travel time between Quincy and individual school sites.

Examples of “fast track” projects that might be accomplished this year:

Indoors:

– Installing new classroom furniture.

– Installing additional shelving in classrooms.

– Installing new classroom whiteboards.

– Installing new cafeteria tables.

– Installing more seating in hallways.

– Removal of unneeded lockers.

– Removal of pay phones.

– Installing emergency lighting in classrooms and hallways.

– Repairing handrails.

– Updating fire alarms.

– Installing push button entry locks for classrooms.

– Installing security cameras.

– Painting interior walls not requiring electrical upgrades.

– Repairing floors.

– Installing window coverings not requiring window replacements.

Outdoors:

– Installing landscaping.

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– Installing gutters.

– Demolishing unneeded temporary buildings.

– Replacement or removal of fencing.

– Installing school signage not requiring architectural design.

– Repairing concrete stairways and sidewalks not requiring accessibility or structural upgrades.

– Painting exterior walls not requiring structural upgrades or roof replacement.

Examples of “long-term” projects that will be accomplished in stages over several years:

Indoors:

– Some projects in buildings where accessibility upgrades are required.

– Constructing or upgrading bathrooms.

– Electrical system upgrades.

– Heating system upgrades.

– Removal of walls to expand rooms.

– Constructing new doors between rooms.

Outdoors:

– Projects requiring accessibility upgrades such as handicap ramps.

– Construction of new buildings.

– Adding additional exit doors to buildings.

– Roofing projects.

– Installing school signage requiring architectural design.

– Installing dual pane windows.

– Renovating gyms, parking lots and playing fields requiring designs for alleviation of drainage issues.

– Construction of new playgrounds.