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meeting at Royal Oak Wednesday night, with the majority of the 40 to 50 people in attendance voicing concern over the outdated, and several calling unsafe, swimming pools at Charter Oak High School.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