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Morgan Hill
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September 27, 2022

District moves ahead on Sobrato

Ann Sobrato High School took a big leap forward Thursday when
the school board voted 5-2 to accept a 17-bid construction package
of $36,687,297. The board, however, had not been given the complete
bid package, with company names, scope of work or bid amounts
before the vote.
Ann Sobrato High School took a big leap forward Thursday when the school board voted 5-2 to accept a 17-bid construction package of $36,687,297. The board, however, had not been given the complete bid package, with company names, scope of work or bid amounts before the vote.

Bonnie Branco, deputy superintendent for business services, said Monday that the board would receive full information this week, possibly by Wednesday.

Al Solis, the district’s director of construction/modernization, said Monday that, because the packet was 23 pages long, it would take Turner Construction until then to put the information into an accessible format.

The total Sobrato program budget was $75,962,616 in 2002 and $77,379,467 on Thursday.

In unanimous votes, the board also approved addition compensation of $927,608 to HMC Architects, bringing the project total to $1,047,258 and awarded Turner Construction (a not-to-exceed) amount of $124,263 for managing large purchases.

The board also decided to “fast track” construction near the project’s end because, while students will be ready for the school to open in August 2004, only a portion of the buildings will be completed then.

Grading for the school has begun on the site, north of town between Monterey Road, Burnett Avenue and Highway 101. The district used ‘eminent domain’ to acquire the land on which the school will sit and will use the process again to acquire needed property lining Burnett Avenue. Land for the athletic fields and agricultural farm was donated by the Sobrato family.

Sobrato will open with grades nine and 10 students only and add a class each year. It was originally planned to hold 2,000 but later scaled back to 1,500 to save money.

How to pay for the inevitable fast tracking costs was also discussed.

Branco told the board that, as of April 30, $11,197,446 had been spent on land purchases and architectural fees, leaving $61 million available for the project, not quite enough to cover expanding costs.

She said the district is applying for $5 million in new construction funds from the state.

“We will know in a month,” she said if we are successful.”

The district has said $5 million in new construction funds will replace a like amount of money taken from the voter-approved bond issue to pay for additional renovation to Live Oak High School. Bond issue funds can pay for both new construction and Live Oak renovation.

When trustee Mike Hickey asked if the district would actually get the money, Branco said they were certainly ‘eligible’ but that the funds might be gone, because of California’s on-going budget problems.

Trustee Del Foster said that, while state modernization funds are mostly gone, funds for new construction are “not so bad.”

Branco said, if the district ran out of money before the project was finished, she would recommend “Certificates of Participation”, or short-term loans, instead of selling bonds in order to cover extra expenses.

“We did this in the early 1990s,” Branco said. “We have to guarantee that the school district is solvent.”

Foster noted that the MHSD bond rating is AAA.

Trustee Shellé Thomas asked what the interest would be for such a loan and Branco said she did not yet know.

“The loan would come towards the end (of construction),” she said.

Thomas and Trustee Amina Khemici voted no, saying they were reluctant to allow construction to begin before they knew where it would end. Thomas said she is uncomfortable moving forward before she knows the guaranteed maximum price for the total bids.

“We still do not know,” she said. “I’m using money I can hopefully expect from the state (the $5 million). I will have $222 left in the capital construction account at end of the project.

“I believe I was elected to question,” Thomas said. “I need to have a total grasp of what’s going on. And I don’t yet.”

Thomas said Monday that she had not seen the complete bid package but that the board decided the issue based on a several-paged project budget summary provided by Solis.

The complete 23-page bid package was not available by Thursday’s meeting.

Solis explained that he rated the bidding firms for “experience, ability and price” but that, in some areas, the bidding was limited.

“Four packages had only one bidder,” he said, “and one package had no bid at all.”

Bids for fire protection and landscaping must be redone, he said.

“We estimated $2.5 million for landscaping,” Solis said, “and Don Jensen came in with a $4.7 million bid.” Solis recommended “value engineering” and reducing the project’s scope to cut costs.

Plans for Sobrato include 50 acres of athletic fields, soccer fields and the stadium.

“You are asking for a gold-plated athletic field,” he said.

Solis said he was pleased when bids for the swimming pool came in at a bit more than $800,000.

“This is very competitive,” he said. Other similar pools are costing well over $1 million, Solis said.

Live Oak High School just finished its new pool and the city will have the aquatic center, with recreational poor and year-round competition pool, on line by June 1, 2004. The center will be located between Murphy Avenue and Condit Road, north of Tennant Avenue and east of Hwy. 101.

The city also plans to build an indoor pool in the indoor recreation center next to Community Park. The Britton Middle School pool, which is in need for expensive renovation, will be closed.

Solis also faced the cost issue.

“We think we can make this work (the $41,825,000 bid),” he said, “but don’t hold me to it.” He also said that Turner, the construction managing company hired to replace Jacobs CM, is nervous with $72,209,467 in total costs. Solis said they were, however, pleased that they didn’t have to eliminate any buildings to meet the budget.

The district has been urged by some residents to cancel the high school, which voters funded with a bond, because of cost overruns and declining enrollment. Live Oak enrollment hovered around 2,000 when Sobrato planning began; next year the three-year student body is estimated to be 1,600.

An additional high school was deemed necessary to decant the ninth graders from middle schools into the high school, as they are in most other California school districts.

The board, with its 5-2 vote on bids, voiced that they were prepared to build.

On Thursday however, the only member of the public to speak urged the board to forge ahead with the high school. The voters approved the funding and the school is needed, he said. The speaker, Logan Zintsmaster, is the husband of Julie Zintsmaster, administrative assistant to Superintendent Carolyn McKennan and a former board member herself.

Former Live Oak Principal – and recently named Sobrato Principal – Richard Knapp addressed the cost issue with some areas that might lend themselves to budget slimming.

He referred to the athletic fields as so ample that one-third may lie fallow to recover from use while others are brought into play.

“This is an incredible luxury I don’t think we can afford,” Knapp said.

The board is also trying to decide how to open the school, which classes and programs will be duplicated, which dedicated to one or the other site, how a school without a junior or senior class will fare, how the school’s culture will develop.

Staff Report
A staff member edited this provided article.

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