The Atascadero school board on Tuesday unanimously approved a nearly $130 million package of campus renovations and repairs that includes moving or renovating the junior high school and arts academy and constructing a new high school performing arts center.
Atascadero Unified School District taxpayers would pay for most of that if voters in November approve Measure I, a bond and property tax increase. The state would finance a portion, too.
In addition to renovating Atascadero Junior High School and the Atascadero Fine Arts Academy, or relocating those to a new site outside downtown, and building the performing arts center at Atascadero High School, the updated Facilities Master Plan includes numerous repairs and renovations at Del Rio Continuation High School and seven elementary schools.
“A lot of our facilities were built in the ’50s and ’60s, and we’ve gotten very good use out of them,” Superintendent John Rogers said. “But their warranties are up.”
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Collectively, these projects would cost more than $129.5 million over the next decade.However, the district anticipates receiving less than $12.5 million from state school facilities funds, developer fees and other revenue.
Rogers said the rest would come from the $117 million general obligation bond on the November ballot.
Property owners would pay $59 per $100,000 of assessed value per year if at least 55 percent of voters approve.
Voters will also be asked whether they prefer building a junior high school to replace the current one or renovating the existing campus.
According to Rogers, the bond would replace a “tax override” — a higher property tax rate than would usually be legally allowed — that local voters approved in 1976.
That override, which expires June 30, costs local property owners $97.50 per $100,000 of assessed value.
According to the update of the facilities plan prepared by Jackie Martin, assistant superintendent of business services, most of the district’s schools are in need of new roofing, flooring and windows and heating, cooling and ventilation systems.
Cracking asphalt, patchy playfields and insufficient irrigation and septic systems also rank among the most common problems identified in Martin’s report.
Students at Santa Rosa Academic Academy recently had to use portable toilets and bottled water when a water line broke, Rogers noted.
“Pipes that have been in the ground for 60 years at some point reach the end of their useful life,” he said. “We’re constantly repairing infrastructure and roofs.”
Rogers said the situation is the worst at Atascadero Junior High School, built in 1947.Completely renovating the downtown site, along with the adjacent Fine Arts Academy, would cost about $23.8 million.
It would cost more than $48.6 million to build both schools on a new site, likely next to San Benito Elementary School.
Rogers noted that moving the junior high school from Atascadero’s downtown redevelopment zone would open up the land for commercial use.
Meanwhile, according to the facilities report, the much-renovated Atascadero High School needs a new performing arts center and a new science, technology, engineering and mathematics building, plus specialized facilities for its vocational programs.
Although the board looked at specific construction and renovation projects later, Rogers said the purpose of the Facilities Master Plan is just that — a plan.
“We don’t have the dollars right now to do these projects,” he said. “We haven’t spent a lot of time or invested district resources into investigating them.”