High school stadium on track for completion before school start

The new Windsor High School stadium is expected to finish on time for the start of the 2019-20 school year, according to Eric Van Pelt, construction manager for the Windsor Unified School District (WUSD).

Van Pelt provided an update on the stadium project and other school construction projects during the June 25 WUSD Board of Trustees meeting. 

In other school business news, the board approved the proposed district budget for the 2019-20 school year, which still carries a deficit due to several budget impacts.

Construction update

According to an update from the WUSD website’s live feed, steel for the bleachers recently arrived and the old turf has been removed.

“The stadium project is well underway and remains on schedule for completion by the start of school,” Van Pelt said. “New turf is going down, interior walls are being finished up, plumbing fixtures are going in.”

The only hiccup in the project was getting a week and a half behind on bleacher work during the month of May.

Van Pelt said crews are working weekends to make up for lost time and complete the bleachers on schedule. 

“They were impacted a bit by that late rain spurt we had in May, but we are working overtime, but we do not expect it to impact the schedule,” he said.

Trustee Rich Carnation asked if there will be a change order for working overtime and Van Pelt said for now they are working overtime to get it done, but that a change order to the contracts would likely come in August.

Board President George Valenzuela talked about the safety aspect of the project and asked about the height of the barriers on the bleachers. Van Pelt said the bleachers will be the standard safety regulated height.

In terms of additions to the project, the board expressed an interest in having a decal on the stadium press box. Board Vice President Eric Heitz opined that a jaguar decal would be a bit more appealing than the current plan to paint the press box tan.

All board members agreed and gave direction to budget in the addition of a decal for the box.

The idea of upgrading the WHS stadium was part of the planned use of funds from the Measure F Bond, which was passed in November of 2016. The district sold the first installment of Measure F bonds in 2017-2018. As a result of that first sale, the district received $22 million and started planning for various construction projects based on the direction and priorities set forth by previous school board trustees.

The board opted for a winter, spring, summer, 2019 construction timeline in order to preserve the fall 2019 football season despite the fact that it would interfere with home games for winter and spring sports.

Van Pelt also gave an update on the portable project at Mattie Washburn Elementary School. He said this addition will be the most challenging project to complete in time for school.

“That will be a mad rush to beat the first day of school,” Van Pelt said.

While the buildings will likely be completely constructed by the start of school, the electrical work may not be done in time. Worst case scenario, generators would be brought in to power the buildings, Van Pelt said.

Building delivery is scheduled for July 22.

“That only takes a week, so we should have the buildings set up,” Van Pelt said.

2019-20 Budget

In a 5-0 vote the board unanimously approved the proposed 2019-20 budget, which according to WUSD Chief Business Officer Lois Standring, is still in a deficit due to a few budget impacts, such as increases to the California Public Employees’ Retirement System.

Big changes for next year that are impacting the budget include a change in the Cost of Living Adjustment, which is jumping to 3.26% and continued increases to the California Public Employees’ Retirement System (PERS) and the California State Teachers’ Retirement System (STERS), as well as 3.5% negotiated raise for employees and a 3% raise for classified employees.

The district also decreased four teaching positions, which saves about $350,000. Standring clarified that they weren’t layoffs just a lot folks who retired and weren’t replaced due to decreasing enrollment.

Expenses for 2019-20 is set at $50,035,530, putting the deficit at $1,406,833.

Total revenue projected for the district is at $48,628,697 according to Standring. State supplemental funding for those with reduced lunches, or English learners is at $2,418,564.

Standring said that deficit is projected to increase throughout the next few fiscal years, 2020-2021 and 2021-2022, due to increasing expenses.

Budget projections

Projections — The budget chart shows projections for the next three school years and shows a trend of increased spending and declining reserves.

“It’s not good. We’re basically living on our savings accounts,” Standring said. “In 2019-20 we are getting revenues of $48 million and expenditures of $50 million and deficit spending of $1.4 million and that jumps to $2.4 million the next year and those are big numbers.”

For 2019-20 reserves are set at $2,494,069, and at $2,538,222 for the following year and $1,234,367 for 2021-2022.

“Last year at this time we had not yet decided to close Windsor Creek Elementary School and in looking at this same multi-year projection it showed in the third year there would be absolutely no reserves which you can’t do, so by November of last year we made the decision to close Windsor Creek, which would save us about $500,000 a year and it made a big difference in our reserves,” Standring said. “But because of the raise we are back in the same position.”  

In 2021-2022 the district won’t have enough dollars to make reserves of a total of at least 3%

“The district will be looking very strongly on ways to fix that,” Standring said.

Since the June 17 budget public hearing, the only change made to the proposed budget was an adjustment of $35,000 from supplemental funds according to Windsor Unified School District Superintendent Brandon Krueger.

According to Krueger, the amount was moved from supplemental funds to certificated salaries to cover the expenses of administrative work that was addressing supplemental programs.

Valenzuela asked if adjustments to the budget could be made in July for adjustments to visual and performing arts allocations as well as intervention and special assignment teachers since a majority of the board expressed a desire to do so.

Budget adjustments can be made, however, Heitz pointed out, “The more we add, the more we deficit spend.”

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