School board eyes building 14 schools

Plan is to meet expected development
By: Patty McAlpin Lincoln News Messenger reporter
-A +A
Western Placer Unified School District is working on a plan to determine how to come up with enough money to pay for schools for future students. The district’s facilities planner Heather Steer gave a presentation to the school board Tuesday night outlining the housing developments anticipated to be built in the next several years, how many schools will be needed, how much money the district will need to build those schools and what may happen if the district cannot afford to build new schools. The district needs approximately $762 million to build nine elementary schools, three middle schools and two high schools for approximately 24,000 students in grades kindergarten through 12th grade for 33,731 dwelling units from seven villages outlined in the city of Lincoln’s 2050 General Plan Update adopted in 2008. The villages, which are in the city of Lincoln’s sphere of influence and within the school district’s boundaries, are basically bounded by Sierra College Boulevard on the west, Athens Avenue on the south, Wise Road on the north and Pleasant Grove Boulevard on the east. “Development is picking up and we need to start planning how to work with developers over the next few years on how to fund new schools,” the district’s Assistant Superintendent Joyce Lopes said. According to a staff report, Village 1 located along Highway 193 is in a comment period for a draft environmental impact report. The village would include a maximum of 5,639 residential units. An environmental impact report is being prepared for 393 residential units for Turkey Creek Estates, which is located within Village 1 abutting Turkey Creek Golf Course. This proposed development is going through Placer County’s proposed building process. An environmental impact report and specific plan were approved for Village 7, which would have a maximum of 3,387 residential units along Moore Road, adjacent to the city of Lincoln’s wastewater reclamation facility. Steer said the estimated cost to build an elementary school is $127 million for Village 1 and $76 million for Village 7 in today’s construction costs. The estimate is based on a facility cost of $22,610 per household. To fund the approximately $762 million needed to build future schools, the district estimates it will receive approximately $319 million in state funding and $298.8 million in fees collected from new dwelling units. There is a shortfall of $144 million. The district collects $8,860 in basic fees from the average 2,059 square foot dwelling unit, according to Steer. The average cost to build a school facility in today’s dollars is $29 million for an elementary school, $53 million for a middle school and $112 million for a high school, Steer said. District’s Superintendent Scott Leaman said the school board is discussing the district’s options for funding during the board’s August and September meetings because of the upcoming election in November and in preparation for the district’s interim budget talks in December. “Tuesday’s meeting was about the history,” Leaman said. “At the second meeting this month, the board will be presented with options. During the first meeting in September, the board will discuss options. Actionable options will be presented to the board at the second meeting in September. Lopes said city officials will be invited to the board’s next meeting in two weeks to join the discussion. “We sent invitations for Tuesday night’s meeting but it was a little short notice,” Lopes said. “We need to make decisions together.” Lincoln Mayor Spencer Short said he received an e-mail about Tuesday’s meeting late last Thursday. “I promptly sent a notice to the superintendent and the school board that this was incredibly late notice,” Short said. City Council members already planned to be in Sun City Lincoln Hills to meet with residents during Tuesday’s National Night Out, Short added. “This particular item is of extreme interest to the city,” Short said. “In the past, we have attempted to coordinate parks with school siting.” In addition to future schools for development within the city’s sphere of influence, the school district facilities master plan includes projects on the board, prior to 2008’s General Plan Update. The district has plans to build Twelve Bridges High School, Lincoln Crossing South Elementary School and large additions planned for Glen Edwards Middle School and Lincoln High School. The total estimated cost for these projects is $160 million. Steer said the district has $1 million in the bank in facilities funds. “The original plan to address those facility needs was the bond, which failed in 2010,” Steer said. “When the state has money available again in 2014, if we qualify, we can look at applying for the state’s financial hardship program. If approved, the state would build based on its own criteria. But the state is out of money to build schools. There is $200 million worth of projects on the approved list the state isn’t able to pay for.” School board members discussed options available if the district cannot build more schools. One idea was to consider placing portable classrooms on current campuses, including Creekside Oaks Elementary School, Carlin C. Coppin Elementary School and Sheridan Elementary School. “Unfortunately, we have to look to field space and blacktop,” board member Paul Carras said. “Double sessions and extending the school day are options to house students if we don’t have the ability to place portables on site,” Carras said.