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Construction crews working on the new Sobrato High School will
now accelerate their working, using weekends to make up the
estimated 44-day delay so the new school can open as planned in
Construction crews working on the new Sobrato High School will now accelerate their working, using weekends to make up the estimated 44-day delay so the new school can open as planned in August.

Morgan Hill Board of Education trustees voted 6-0 Monday night to spend $256,000 to speed up construction. The money will come out of a construction contingency fund.

Director of Construction and Modernization Al Solis told trustees the acceleration is necessary to open the school on time.

The school, located on Burnett Avenue just north of the Morgan Hill city limits, is estimated to cost $78 million.

“We have been counting the weeks left until completion of phase one of the project, and it looks like we will miss it (opening of school) by four weeks,” Solis said. “We may end up doing Saturday and Sunday work to catch up.”

Delays were attributed to the weather (12 days), a California Department of Architecture delay in approving a fire-rated wall detail not included in design documents (10 days) and a direction from the board (22 days).

The board directed Solis not to proceed with construction until all the contract packages were bid. Construction began July 1, 2003, instead of June 1, 2003, as district staff had anticipated.

The construction contingency budget, which the money for acceleration will come out of, is $1.2 million. To date, Solis said, “less than $10,000” has been used.

Any money left in the construction contingency by the end of the project will be split by the district and Turner Construction.

Trustee Shellé Thomas asked Solis if there could be another acceleration charge coming out of the contingency budget for phase two of the project, which includes the library and the gym.

Solis said there is no deadline on phase two, and that the acceleration of phase one would also help phase two.

Phase one, which needs to be ready in order for students to start school there in August, includes classroom buildings and the administration building.

The school is scheduled to open with 9th and 10th grade students, adding 11th in its second year and 12th in its third as next year’s 10th graders progress.

Besides the buildings, Sobrato will need furniture and supplies in order to open its doors for students. Sobrato Principal Rich Knapp told trustees Tuesday night in a continuation of Monday’s meeting that $3.55 million was budgeted for FF&E, or furniture, fixtures and equipment.

“Originally, the FF&E budget was $4.9 million, but as the project progressed, $1 million was transferred to the construction budget,” he said. “As a result, the FF&E budget was $3.9 million; however $300,000 was committed to establish an ag farm at Sobrato, and $50,000 is needed for set up, so the actual budget is $3.55 million.”

The budget includes: $150,000 for library collection and software; $60,000 in additional textbooks and novels; $500,000 for technology and site license; $190,000 for the music program; $80,000 for grounds, maintenance and custodial; $100,000 for science (large cost items); $100,000 for an industrial technology lab; $50,000 for duplication (purchase and lease); $500,000 for athletics, PE and training room; $70,000 for the weight room; $50,000 for a television studio; and $1,700,000 for classroom and office furniture and equipment.

The Sobrato staff has been involved in selecting the furniture and equipment, Knapp said, particularly in the elective and specialty areas.

Large items will go through the bid process, he told trustees. He said Thursday the bids had gone out, and he will be reviewing them on Monday.

Knapp said the district’s freeze on spending, except on existing purchase orders, that was announced March 1 will not cause Sobrato to open without furniture and equipment.

“It hasn’t affected me at all because the bond money, the money for this project isn’t frozen now,” he said Thursday.

Knapp said bids likely will be taken to the board for approval in May.

Plans for the high school were scaled back to 173,902 square-feet to accommodate 1,500 students at an estimated cost of $78 million instead of the 2,500 originally intended. The school was originally designed at 186,000 square-feet. It will largely be funded by the $72 million bond issue, Measure B, passed in June 1999. The bond issue also included money to build Barrett Elementary and renovate the aging Live Oak High School.

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