How will Sonora High spend bond money?

Brenna Swift, The Union Democrat /

Sonora High School will get a new aquatics center and updated buildings under a preliminary plan for spending $23 million from a bond measure passed last year.

Architects and consultants outlined the plan for the Sonora Union High School District Board of Trustees Tuesday, but months of design work still lie ahead.

Initial blueprints feature a 10-lane pool and bleachers where Sonora High's tennis courts now stand, a plaza next to the resurfaced track, a major overhaul of two outdated buildings, and an addition to the cafeteria.

Work on the track, football field, cafeteria and pool will likely start in 2014, with renovations to the Humanities Building and Centennial Hall taking place over the following few years.

However, the timeline could shorten if Sonora High decides to sell the bonds in two sets instead of three. The district is unloading $8 million in bonds this spring.

Its existing pool has five lanes and is situated near the football field. Sonora High's architecture firm, WLC Architects, gave a preliminary estimate for the new pool's cost - along with equipment and supporting buildings - as $4.5 million.

Architect Max Medina referred trustees to Bret Harte High School's aquatics center as an example for their finished pool. Bret Harte's pool opened in 2010 for $3.5 million.

Meanwhile, the estimated price to overhaul Sonora High's Humanities Building - disliked by many students and teachers -is about $2.1 million. Centennial Hall, which needs new windows and a range of other upgrades, may eat up more than $3.4 million.

Medina said Sonora High, which had never before passed a bond measure, also needs significant work to make it more accessible for disabled students.

By the time the other projects and preparation costs are added in, Sonora High will use up $20.1 million in bond measure money at a cost of about $403 per square foot of construction.

The remaining money will go to "indirect costs" such as design and project inspection fees, with some set aside as a contingency fund for unforeseen expenses.

The community determined which projects should get bond measure funding, said Sonora Union High School District Superintendent Mike McCoy.

"The list of projects that we came up with was not done by edict," McCoy said. "There was a series of seven stakeholder meetings … that represented a broad constituency in our community.

"… That's why some of these, like the Humanities Building, really bubbled to the surface," he said. "And some other projects that were really near and dear to staff members' hearts didn't, because it didn't seem like the whole community supported it."

WLC Architects will soon start design work on the projects, drawing input from design committees of district staff members and students.

Sonora High will also host a forum on bond spending to inform the public on project plans, McCoy said.

The Union Democrat
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