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  • Measure U Update: Carpinteria Middle School

    Carpinteria Middle School, built in 1930 as the town’s high school and remodeled with bond money in 2000, has facilities that run the gamut from the gleaming halls and beautifully preserved classrooms of its main entrance building to the musty and damp portable classrooms placed on the campus’s east side in 1965.

    The new gym, also built in 2000, with its soaring roof supported by steel tresses, would not be out of place on a major university campus, so impressive is the structure. Additionally, new (circa 2000) science classrooms are spacious and well lit, which, along with the sound-dampening panels in the library and the library’s computer wing, provide academic spaces that are worthy of the important work being done by both students and teachers at the middle school.

    Yet the generally good condition of the front half of Carpinteria Middle School belies the aged facilities across much of the remaining campus. Of course, aging facilities are the reason the $90 million Measure U bond was passed in 2014. And as with the rest of the campus projects across the Carpinteria Unified School District, the significant remodels and upgrades at CMS have been prioritized and listed in phases of construction over the coming five years, in a roughly descending order of importance.

    Thus far, the process of modernizing CUSD facilities has entailed meetings among school principals, staff and district planners, as well as architects and engineers, not only to determine what needs to happen at each school site, but also to determine construction priorities. For example, state-of-the-art voice evacuation and fire alarm systems are being installed district-wide over the summer, ahead of modular building construction. At CMS, the existing portable classrooms are scheduled to be moved to the west side of the field this summer and used as interim classrooms while the new Gen7 modular buildings are installed early next year.

    The multipurpose room, which was the original gym at CMS, has a warren of cramped rooms behind and below the gym floor with cracked skylights and peeling paint that currently serve as a band room and storage area. No part of the stage area in the original gym-turned-multipurpose-room meets the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act. The plan for the building includes a complete interior overhaul with new bleachers and utilities that will meet ADA requirements.

    But the labyrinthine system of school project funding has the work slated for the multipurpose room marked as an “alternate” project in the bidding process. “Alternates,” give district planners flexibility in prioritizing facilities projects—if contractors’ bids come in low enough, the district can get to the “alternates” on the list of projects to be done. David Weniger, CUSD Director of Facilities and Operations, explained it this way: “Build me a school, and put in a tennis courts as an ‘alternate.’” Still, the renovation of the multipurpose room is scheduled for early 2019 as a “Phase 1” project.

    For summer 2017, the existing art and shop building will get a new roof and be brought in line with ADA standards. Original sewer lines near the existing portable buildings on the east side of the campus run between Carpinteria Avenue and 8th Street, and must be replaced to clear the way for foundation work for the new modular buildings. A new school kitchen is also scheduled for Phase 1 construction, replacing the existing facility that was itself an add-on in the 1970s. The total budget for the CMS projects is $9.9 million.

    A number of additional projects are planned for CMS including free standing shade panels on two classroom wings in the main building, and an expansion of the outdoor eating area. The new kitchen facility may encroach upon the existing sewing room that is part of the life skills/home economics wing of the school. While the broad strokes of campus construction and upgrades have been determined, factors of budget and unforeseeable circumstances will affect the final outcome of Measure U work—not only at the middle school, but also at each campus in the district.

    The complexity of the district-wide Measure U projects—each one a significant undertaking and planned across the next five years—naturally requires a team approach. CUSD is eligible for additional state funding for some of the scheduled projects, and a consultant has been hired to ensure that the district retains its eligibility. “It’s really important to get a team of consultants to work with the district,” Weniger said, as the specialized nature of school construction requires input from experts in each aspect of construction, including architects and engineers, planners, contractors and documentation specialists.