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Morgan Hill
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September 27, 2021

Board approves $6.8m for Burnett

During Tuesday’s Board of Education meeting, Hector Gutierrez, a homeowner in the Capriano neighborhood where the Morgan Hill Unified School District is planning to move Central High Continuation High School, brought a neon pink sign with a slogan written in huge black print stating: “More Homes, More Kids, It’s Elementary.”

Markus Schmuckl, a fellow northwest Morgan Hill resident, came equipped with two large, black boards with a city map blown up and pasted on the front, depicting the number of existing homes and future family dwellings expected for the surrounding neighborhoods of the old Burnett Elementary School campus on Tilton Avenue in Morgan Hill.

The point all eight residents, who spoke before the MHUSD Board of Education, wanted to make was that Burnett would be better served reopening as an elementary school, rather than being transformed into the new home for Central.

“We strongly believe that the most prudent action given this information is to plan for the future and re-open Burnett as a community elementary school,” said resident Che Hammond.

After surveying 87 Capriano homeowners, approximately 34 percent have elementary-aged students currently attending MHUSD schools. Another 26 percent of those children will be entering kindergarten in the next one to three years.

But those stats did little to prevent the School Board from voting unanimously to approve the $6.8 million phase I estimate to begin modernization plans of the Burnett campus, which will serve as Central’s new home in 2013.

“No, I do not (have any reservations),” said Board President Don Moody.

As the district’s student count continues to grow, he says MHUSD is considering other properties for expansion.

The Burnett renovations are the first use of voter-approved Measure G bond dollars, which total $198 million. At Tuesday’s meeting, trustees discussed $55 million worth of other Measure G-funded projects, but those are not finalized or board-approved.

Those potential projects include the construction of a multipurpose room at the Charter School of Morgan Hill, fencing at Britton Middle School, and various roofing projects at other facilities.

“Right now, these are just the projects we’ll try to begin during the summer…Burnett is just the furthest along,” said Deputy Superintendent Bonnie Tognazzini, who on Tuesday was recognized for her 21 years of service with MHUSD and is retiring at the end of this school year. “They won’t vote on (the other projects) until they get pricing and a timeline.”

Tognazzini was praised by her peers for helping guide the district through good times and bad for more than two decades. She also had kind words for Superintendent Wes Smith — who was named Santa Clara County’s Superintendent of the Year by the Association of California School Administrators. Tognazzini said there has been more “positive progress” during Smith’s three-year leadership than the previous 20 combined. One of the major accomplishments includes the passing of Measure G in November 2012 with a 65.74 percent voter approval.

“He is open to all input and has the innate ability to get the community behind District initiatives for improving academic attainment and student success,” said Mayor Steve Tate of Smith, who chairs the Legislative Action Committee for the Santa Clara County Superintendents Association and has advised at committee hearings of the California State Legislature.

Nationally, Smith has met with President Obama’s Special Assistant at the White House and the U.S. Department of Education staff.

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