Charter Oak Prioritizes School Facility Improvements

Charter Oak Unified gathers public feedback for needed school upgrades and buildings.

At Charter Oak High School, there’s a pool in need of improvements. There has been talk of a new performance arts center. At Royal Oak Middle School, aging portables need to be replaced with permanent buildings.

But as many improvements are needed or desired at the eight campuses within the Charter Oak Unified School District, there won’t be enough dollars to cover them all, say district officials.

The school district is gathering feedback from the community to help prioritize future building projects and upgrades in its Facilities Master Plan to cover with limited funding resources, including a new bond the district is considering to put before voters.

The district hosted a town hall meeting at Royal Oak Wednesday night, with the majority of the 40 to 50 people in attendance voicing concern over the outdated, and several calling unsafe, swimming pools at Charter Oak High School.

Not only are the swimming pools showing their age with cracked and missing tiles, the nearly 50-year-old aquatic facilities fail to meet CIF size and depth standards.

Parents at the meeting called the current state of the school’s aquatic center a “safety hazard.”

Betsey Olenick Dougherty, partner with Dougherty + Dougherty LLP consulting firm, said the district is fully aware of the aquatic centers’ needs. Based on the feedback so far, the aquatic center is high on the public’s priority list.

However, she said projects that will get immediate attention will be ensuring buildings are code compliant – projects that were listed on the last Measure C bond but were never funded as bond money ran out. Dougherty said buildings such as administrative buildings, school kitchens and multipurpose rooms by law need to be access compliant under the Americans With Disabilities Act.

“[These projects] were yanked out of the plan, because we wanted to spend money in the classrooms,” said Dougherty. “It’s the law , so we must do it. We have no choice.”

Other ideas addressed at the meeting was a new performing arts center, a project Dougherty said could cost anywhere from $6 million to $7 million.  Dougherty also suggested new technology facilities and equipment such as new computers and Ipads in every classroom.

“I know a lot of people are concerned about wireless technology and I’ll tell you right now, this is not negotiable in the future,” she said. “Textbooks are going to be delivered on the Ipad within 5 years. This is happening. We are either ready for it or we’re not.”

Charter Oak Superintendent Mike Hendricks said although the district has received a variety of grants and hosted many fundraisers to help fund supplies and new technology, they have not been enough to cover larger projects.

“What we’re talking about today is not going to be solved with a fundraiser,” said Henridcks. “We’re looking at millions of dollars of need.”

He said the district has been considering a new bond to place on either the June or November ballot. So far, the district has been gathering feedback through telephone surveys to gauge public support for a new bond measure.

But with low community turnout to Tuesday’s meeting, the district is hoping to gain more public feedback at its next and last town hall meeting 6 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 21 at Cedargrove Elementary School, 1209 N. Glendora Ave., Covina. The public can also submit feedback on the district’s website. The final meeting will focus on projects for the elementary school campuses.

Dougherty + Dougherty will present a draft of their Facilities Master Plan recommendations to the board at the March 8 school board meeting.

Ann Marin February 17, 2012 at 04:16 PM
I take issue with the need for pool upgrades being treated like it was a frivolous request. The pool is 50 years old and has been CIF non-compliant since the 1980's. The pool is falling apart, literally. Chunks of the deck fall into the water when polo goals are put in place. The heater has been broken intermittently for years and kids have had to practice in unheated pools in winter. There was a huge leak at one time which wasted thousands of gallons of our precious water. (contin'd, next)
Ann Marin February 23, 2012 at 03:55 PM
The question is, Do we support a bond for this or not? Until we see how much this bond is going to cost homeowners, per year, and for how long, we can not make a decision yes or no. I am already paying close to 700 per year for the previous bonds for school district ...how much more? We also need to see what else the district needs are, and whether or not now is the time to address those needs.
Portillo February 25, 2012 at 08:26 PM
Hello to All concerned. If the citizens of Charter Oak understand the needed for a regulation aquatic facility certified by California Interscholastic Federation- C.I.F. and want to a modern aquatic facility to be developed and built, and are willing support a new property TAX by voting a new BOND MEASURE this upcoming November 2012, to accomplish the timely completion of a newly constructed Aquatic facility, I strongly advise that the citizens of Charter oak demand that the LANGUAGE/TEXT of the resolution to be passed by the COUSD gov School board affirmatively and explicitly states what type of an AQUATIC facility is to be built with the revenue generated by the passage of a new tax/BOND measure. The Ballot text/Language needs to inform/ensure the Charter Oak VOTERs that money generated by a new tax will be spent on a modern Aquatic Facility.
Ann Marin February 28, 2012 at 04:16 PM
Yes, I have researched bonds and the problem is the language is so vague, it's like giving the board members a blank check to do whatever they want. There is absolutely zero accountability. The funds for Measure C, the last bond, was never fully and publicly accounted for, at least not easily where one can see how much was spent and on what, and that was 60 million dollars, 30 million on taxpayers backs. I agree we need to update facilities, but is this the best way and is the district being prudent in these tough times, when taxpayers are already over-burdened? Voters need to be fully informed. Attend the March 8th district meeting when they unveil their plans.
robin monte July 31, 2012 at 03:59 AM


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