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MUSD considers new school building and renewed taxes

The Martinez Unified School District continues to grapple with budgets, building costs and a tax parcel tax renewal plan.  
School trustees probed for answers when the estimated John Muir Elementary School modification costs for the “preferred plan” came in almost $5.5 million over budget at the Feb. 26 meeting.
The board subcommittee brought the final two, of eight plans, considered at five meetings.  
Board President Jonathon T. Wright confirmed the committee consensus favoring a $34,480,000 plan with a single, two-story building and replacement of the multi-use old structure.  
One building was considered safest for shelter-in-place emergencies and has fewer access points for an intruder.  During a shelter-in-place, which happens about once a year for various reasons, restroom access from a different building is an issue.
When the budget was conceived, the multi-use building was to have been upgraded, not replaced.  
According to Marcus  Hibser  of HY Architects, the committee thought the existing multi-use building (with upgrades) would be “an eyesore” in comparison to the new building, and a new building would be less costly to maintain. Also, the new library would have access from the playground in this plan.
Other subcommittee planning considerations are: students staying on campus during construction, parking, playground facilities, student drop-off and fire vehicle access. The library access is directly off of the playground.
The second design option contains one-story structures with an outdoor breezeway and a similar layout at an estimated cost is $32 million. The original budget was $29 million.
Trustee John Fuller asked, “Where will the $5 million come from?… It has to come at the expense of something else.” He also noticed that student pickup lines were still on the street.
Fuller wanted to know, “What is the most important thing?”
Superintendent  CJ Cammack  said the sub-committee did not look at that. Trustee  Diedre   Siguenza  offered similar queries.
Wright said construction costs are going up, but acknowledged the committee will have to go over it again with clarified priorities.  
“I really do want to hear from the community,” Fuller commented.  
In other business, the expiring $50 annual parcel tax was an issue. Trustees agreed that it is needed to support art, music and teacher training, and Wright wants to ask for an increase to $75 if it is put on the November 2018 ballot. Some trustees want to make it permanent, but others are doubtful that the proposal can win in a public vote perhaps because there are still two outstanding  MUSD  bonds. Both are for facilities improvements; $45 million has been spent or allocated and the John Muir Elementary School will be the first project in $120 million available for improving facilities.
MUSD  contracted for a survey to test prospects of voter approval of a renewal of the parcel tax, and or an increase to $75. According to the research, a renewal could likely pass, but  Siguenza  said the June election may too soon to inform the public about it.
Contact Dana  Guzzetti  at  dguzzetti10@gmail.com  or call  925-202-9292 .


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