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  • Measure U Update: Carpinteria High School

    Upgrades, including a new science wing, computer lab, administration and auditorium buildings, are planned for CHS.

    Ninety million dollars is a lot of money, no matter how one looks at it. But the sizable Measure U budget for much-needed facilities upgrades across the seven campuses of Carpinteria Unified School District may not be sufficient to complete every project on the district’s Master Facilities Plan.

    “Who’s to say that’s (the $90 million Measure U bond money) enough?” Cindy Abbott, Measure U Facilities Coordinator, said during a recent tour of the Carpinteria High School campus.

    “Things come up that no one can anticipate,” David Weniger the district’s Director of Facilities and Operations added, citing an example in last year’s sidewalk replacement project at the Carpinteria High School that unexpectedly entailed additional costs in replacing aged waterlines.

    With an annual inflation rate of 8 percent on construction costs and a five-year project timeline, the added specter of unanticipated complications makes completing every item on the district’s Master Facilities Plan a bit of a stretch. For Carpinteria High School, significant cost overruns could come at the expense of a planned 300-seat auditorium slated to be built on the existing front lawn area of the school, behind the site of the future administration building.

    “We expect to have enough money to complete the admin building—it is still a priority,” Abbott said. “What is yet to be determined is whether there will be funding to build the auditorium.” Both the admin and auditorium buildings were budgeted for in the initial $90 million Measure U bond. Additional state funds may be available, Abbott said, and she has begun the application process.

    Rincon and Foothill high schools are set to move into the existing administration building on the CHS campus once the new admin building is completed, which is scheduled for Summer 2019.

    Carpinteria High School Principal Gerardo Cornejo looks forward to the improvements the Measure U projects will bring to his campus, particularly the new science wing and new auditorium. Students at the high school currently perform plays and music recitals in the cafeteria without a stage or a curtain, and while Cornejo points out that the Theater Arts students and staff are very creative with set design and do great work with the resources they have, “When the curtain goes up (in the new auditorium) and the students are getting a standing ovation and the curtain goes down again, it will encourage more of them to continue in the arts.” Additionally, Cornejo said, “A ‘normal’ auditorium adds validity to what students are doing. The auditorium itself will be a resource that is available to the community.”

    Cornejo, a 1988 CHS graduate, noted that he used the same lab equipment students are using today in the chemistry room. Three new Gen7 modular buildings, custom ordered for CHS, will form the new science wing with specific classrooms for study in biology, physics and chemistry, complete with two prep rooms on either end of the block. The buildings are scheduled for installation in summer 2018.

    “I’m looking forward to the challenges” over the coming years of Measure U construction on campus, Cornejo said with enthusiasm. “It’s going to be a great opportunity for students to see different trades, and the process of implementing a big project.”

    Existing classroom wings are budgeted to receive thorough upgrades in wireless infrastructure, lighting, wall treatments, flooring, heating and cooling systems, new paint and new teaching boards. Portable buildings on the west side of the campus will be moved to the front of the school for interim classrooms while the new modular buildings are installed.

    Students will also utilize the portable classroom buildings as renovations commence on the existing classroom wings. An additional four Gen7 modular buildings, each 30-feet by 32-feet, will serve as a computer lab. Another significant upgrade to the high school campus will be the renovation of the gym locker room facilities, which, like most of the school, date back to the mid-1960s. “It’s really going to be a complete ‘gut,’” Weniger said of the boys and girls locker rooms, “floors, walls, lockers.”

    Although the final cost for the upgrades on each CUSD campus is impossible to precisely predict, careful study has nevertheless gone into formulating the Measure U Master Facilities Plan. With the possibility of additional state funding, Weniger and Abbott, along with students, teachers and administrators, hope to see the construction of all the projects—including the auditorium—on the Master Facilities Plan for Carpinteria High School.