Bond money in hand, Sac City Unified embarks on building boom

05/14/2014 2:42 PM

05/14/2014 8:24 PM

Sacramento City Unified has embarked on a mini-boom of capital improvements at its campuses, fueled by voter approval of $414 million in bonds nearly two years ago.

At Rosemont High School, hundreds of students poured into the stadium for a ceremonial salute Wednesday to the $2 million project. The track is made with recycled rubber. The field is made with AstroTurf GameDay Grass, which is comparable to installations at collegiate football stadiums in Michigan and Kansas, district officials said.

“It doesn’t need to be watered, mowed or fertilized,” trustee Christina Pritchett said during the rally. “Considering the drought right now, this is good news.”

Before the project, which started in January and was finished by the end of February, Rosemont High had an outdated synthetic track and a natural grass field. “We had a lot of issues with potholes and drainage,” said volunteer football announcer Paul McGee.

A similar track and field project is in the design stages for John F. Kennedy High School. The estimated $5.9 million project is to include a concession stand, restroom facilities and new bleachers, said Lori Rubenstein, manager of construction services for the district.

In all, a slew of projects are on tap for the $414 million in funds voters authorized in 2012 through two bond proposals. Measure Q was focused on classrooms and main campus buildings and included funding for technology and laptops. Measure R focused largely on health and safety improvements, including upgrades at playgrounds and athletic fields, as well as campus furnishings and a central facility to prepare student meals. Only $80 million of the Measure Q and R bonds have been sold so far.

Superintendent Sara Noguchi said trustees in June are expected to review work already underway and projects that could take priority in the months ahead.

Among candidates for early consideration are targeted renovations – such as science labs – for West Campus High to support the school’s academic programs, said district spokesman Gabe Ross.

And Kit Carson Middle School is in line for needed upgrades to support adoption of an International Baccalaureate program and its transition to grades 7-12. In the next school year, the IB program will expand to include the ninth grade.

The district’s largest projects so far have been state-of-the-art rubberized tracks and synthetic fields. Luther Burbank High School in 2011 was the first in the district to do so. That project was financed with prior bond funds from Measures E and I, Ross said.

Sacramento City Unified is catching up to other area districts that have such facilities: Vista del Lago High School in Folsom installed a synthetic track and artificial turf field in 2006. Davis High School had a track and field upgrade in 2009 that included a rubberized track and the AstroTurf GameDay Grass, said Michael Adell of the Davis Joint Unified School District.

At the Wednesday rally, Rosemont’s volunteer announcer McGee whipped up students into delivering major decibels: “I remember when this field was dirt and grass,” he blared into a microphone. “If you played football on this field when it was dirt and grass, stand up! Give yourself a hand.”

The new field also will be used for track and field, and soccer, Noguchi said.

She said support from the community for the bond measures has been great for the district and for students.

“It also adds to the culture and climate of not only the community at large but also to the school community,” she said.

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