Aug 15, 2015 12:22 PM by Anthony Peters
On Monday when kids across Chico return to the classrooms many of them will be returning to rooms in much need of improvements and expansion.
"Most of them were built in the 1950's.," Chico Unified School District Director of Facilities and Construction Julie Kistle said. "They're aging, we haven't had maintenance dollars in many years. They really need attention."
Measure "E" which was voted on in 2012 gave the Chico school district a $78 million bond to improve the existing schools. In the last two years, improvements at the two high schools and junior high schools have been completed. Now, the district looks to phase three of the measure which will help four elementary schools in danger of over population.
"Knowing now that our elementary schools are in dire need of improvements, phase three includes Marigold elementary, Loma Vista, Shasta elementary and Little Chico Creek," Kistle said.
These schools are in areas of Chico, which are being heavily developed for new housing, which in turn is putting a strain on the schools.
"And those schools are chosen for the next phase because those schools are more likely to receive increased enrollment and overcrowding because the area that they lie is in a high development area," she said.
Right now, the district is in need of $16-17 million to begin the next phase. in order to raise the money with out increasing taxes, it is relying on the growth of property values in the Chico area as well as other avenues of revenue.
"We're focusing on many different funding sources. We have been able to leverage our own local dollars with state facility bond dollars in the past, we've been very successful with that," Kistle said. "There's also redevelopment dollars that get passed through the city of Chico. Those funds are to be used for projects that benefit the city as well as the school district."
In the meantime, beginning next fall the district is planning on temporarily opening the junior high's to sixth graders to help alleviate the pressure on the elementary schools.
"So, it's been decided that our sixth graders will move to the junior highs in the fall of 2016," Kistle said. "Therefore creating space at all of the elementary campuses."
However, the work will not end with phase three as Kistle points out all of the elementary schools need improvements.
"That doesn't mean they have more need, all of our elementary schools have a lot of need."
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