Schools still subpar, several TUSD campuses need modernization
by Michael Langley
Feb 28, 2014 | 5543 views | 9 9 comments | 12 12 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Measure B tour
Anthony Continente of RGM & Associates (left) and Casey Goodall, Tracy Unified School District associate superintendent of business services, discuss the asbestos covered by panels in a classroom at Central Elementary School during a Feb. 18 tour of schools that could be modernized with Measure B school bond funds.  Glenn Moore/Tracy Press
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2008 Measure S tour
Central School principal Nancy Link looks over some of the plumbing problems in one of the boys bathrooms at Central School during a school tour Aug. 1, 2008.  The 70-year-old elementary school was one of several set to be repaired and modernized by Measure S money.  Press file photo
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The staff, administrators and board of education for Tracy Unified School District want to finish the work they started in 2006 to modernize city schools.

TUSD board members voted unanimously Feb. 11 to ask voters for an $82 million bond, now called Measure B, to upgrade Central, North, South/West Park, Villalovoz and Jacobson elementary schools. The bond would also pay for improvements to the former Clover Middle School campus, now home of Tracy Learning Center.

“We have to finish what we started,” Dr. Casey Goodall, assistant superintendent for business services, said. 

The Press toured two school sites in need of upgrades, Central and North schools, on Feb. 18 with Goodall and a group of seven other district administrators, board members and principals.

Central Principal Nancy Link said structural problems at her school sometimes interfere with learning: “We have to evacuate the class because we smell something funny, be it the sewer lines or whatever. (Or) the teacher has to move a bucket because the roof is leaking and move another bucket. (Kids) are getting an amazing education here, but those are distractions that they shouldn’t have to have.”

Anthony Continente, project manager with RGM & Associates and consultant for the district on school modernization, said the surface problems at Central are indicators of deeper issues.

“Those are just leaks from around the mechanical system coming down through the roof over time as things tend to rot,” Continente said. “Most all of it, especially underground, is going to be in that shape.”

Continente could not say whether the school needed modernization or complete reconstruction.

“We have to do more assessment,” he said. “We have to really start to dig into the walls and see what’s there.”

Such assessment, Goodall said, is expensive and extensive.

“Until we really take it to that next step, in terms of evaluation, we won’t really know,” he said.

That next step is included in the $82 million bond the community will consider in the June 3 election.

Voters approved Measure E, a $51 million bond, in 2006 and two years later voted to give the district an additional $43 million in Measure S.

In 2008, the district told voters Measure S money would be used to renovate, modernize and reconstruct the older elementary and middle schools. Central is the oldest elementary school in the district.

“We’re asking for less money (than in 2006), and we’ll be able to fix up more schools,” board president James Vaughn said June 24, 2008, before voting to put Measure S on the November 2008 ballot.

Goodall said Feb. 18 that most of that money went to modernize Monte Vista and McKinley.

“We wanted to do the project right rather than say, How much money do we have?” Goodall said. “Do we cut back on what McKinley and Monte Vista have so that we could now include North and Central and South/West Park? You really dilute the project dramatically and you end up with a project you’re not proud of, and the community asks, ‘Why did I spend all my money on that?’”

Board of Education member Ted Guzman, who was on the Feb. 18 tour, said that the district staff had done a great job using the bond money well.

“Our sales pitch is, go by Tracy High School, go by McKinley, go by Monte Vista,” he said. “Check the numbers and how well we used the numbers and how well the sites were built, redone and remodeled. The job that was done should be our sales pitch for everyone to see. We do it right.”

Guzman added that a piecemeal approach to school modernization might not be in the best interests of anyone.

“You just don’t get funding for facilities like you used to. It’s all built in the general fund now,” he said. “We really don’t want to put a million dollars at this school, then go over here and put a million dollars at this school. As the year goes on, it drains your general fund.”

Records of maintenance costs for each school were not immediately available from the district, but Continente said that according to his research, the last modernization of Central School occurred in 1990.

Link said she just wants to give her students a place to learn that doesn’t have 75-year-old plumbing, sagging soft spots in the wood floor, and asbestos on the walls.

• Contact Michael Ellis Langley at mlangley@tracypress.com or 830-4231.

 
Comments
(9)
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landingapproach
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March 01, 2014
Really. Seriously?? This guy is in charge of the schools yet he has to wear a pair of sunglasses indoors. Maybe he is watching to many Hollywood movies. Honestly - there is no need to put on a show for the public to see. The schools are serious business which means it is not all about you Mr. Sunglasses, but about the schools instead.
Ornley_Gumfudgen
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March 09, 2014
landingapproach

I do agree it's very unprofessional an if I was engagin his services I would have asked him ta remove em. Thair not tolerated in th classroom without a medical reason so th light must be sufficient fer him ta take em off.
ciscokid52
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February 28, 2014
My daughter goes to private school. I'll omit from paying for other schools, too.
KenCefalo
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February 28, 2014
When I moved to Tracy in 1981, Central already needed work. It seems that the district handled the last bond money responsibly making needed restorations and improvements to Monte Vista, McKinley and Tracy High. It's time to fix Central. (Can we just expand the music program over there while we're at it?):).

ThinkAgainSmartie
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February 28, 2014
You are obviously a misguided resident and voter. Yeah, the City of Tracy definitely has a trend of mismanaging funds, the Tracy Unified School District has shown they can responsibly handle spending Bond money. Look at Tracy High, Monte Vista Middle and McKinley Elementary...those schools are model facilities. And there was money for West High as well.

Don't get too confused about who is spending your money because the city has nothing to do with the school district.
Sero7
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February 28, 2014
What's with the sunglasses indoors? Well, maybe they don't need money for lighting because the lighting is so bright they wear sunglasses indoors. Now on the serious side. School districts have money for the things they want to have money for. The things they don't want to spend their money, is when they come after our money to use. I am done giving the school districts blank checks to continue mismanaging money. If you give them money they will keep coming back for more as you can see in this situation. If you do it again they will be back with there hands out. IF you maintain these schools, you don't have these troubles. If the ceiling tile is wet, fix the roof. If a pipe is leaking repair it. It's nice to have brand new things but that's just not how it works. I deal with school district maint. departments and they buy from there buddies and even if you have better service or better prices, you can't get in because your not one of there buddies. I say "No". You can keep throwing money at these schools districts, but enough is never enough because the system itself is broken! "NO"
TracyRAP
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February 28, 2014
Just say no to measure B!

The city has showed over and over again that it can not manage revenues effectively, now they want another taxpayer bailout. The city puts a tax increase on the ballot every year and every year they fail to allocate the money to what they were supposed to.

JUST SAY NO.
TracyRAP
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February 28, 2014
“You just don’t get funding for facilities like you used to. It’s all built in the general fund now,” he said. “We really don’t want to put a million dollars at this school, then go over here and put a million dollars at this school. As the year goes on, it drains your general fund.”

This is EXACTLY what the general fund is for!!!! Stop wasting money on statues and signs and stupid roundabouts that people don't understand how to use!

This quote is PROOF that city executives have totally lost touch with what they are supposed to be doing.

Instead of spending $X amount of dollars every year they put the money into stuff no one needed and let schools rot.

Ornley_Gumfudgen
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March 09, 2014
Uh TracyRAP

Thank ya got yer governments confused here. Measure B don't pertain or have anythang ta do with th City puttin a tax increase on th ballot. Specifically it deals with yer other local government called TUSD who suggestin th increase be put before th electorate ta pay fer school related thangs.

If yer gonna attack someone have th decency ta attack th responsible parties. In this case it's yer elected School Board, not th City.


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