School board approves $50 million cap for construction contract

The Piedmont Unified School District board of education voted February 27 to approve up to $50 million for a contract with Overaa Construction, taking the final step toward the start of the STEAM and new theater projects. Demolition of Alan Harvey Theater to make way for construction of the new STEAM building is scheduled to begin April 13.

The $50 million is for “hard” construction costs only.  Adding “soft” costs, such as architectural and engineering fees, plus the money spent or committed for other projects, and program costs, the total bond program budget is now set at roughly $66 million, within the $66.1 million authorized by voters in November 2016.

In addition to the new high school STEAM and theater buildings, the program budget includes funds to replace heating and ventilation equipment in the 30s building.  State matching funds of $4 to $6 million are expected within a few years, and these will cover replacement of heating and ventilation equipment in the 20s building, classroom upgrades in the 20s and 30s buildings, Witter Field renovation, and possible improvements to kindergarten facilities.  

Project costs have increased over the original estimates, but the program budget will accomplish the major objectives of the bond program, and several projects have already been completed. Completed projects include: installation of ventilation and climate control equipment in 15 elementary classrooms to prevent classroom overheating and improve the learning environment; creation of a new high school computer lab; and installation of new doors, hardware, and electronic locks at the middle school.  

The school board approved a contract amount “not to exceed” $50 million because the District and Overaa are continuing “value engineering” to trim project costs.  The final contract price will be reported at the March 13, 2019 board meeting.

The board also directed staff to apply for a relatively new category of state funding, the Full-Day Kindergarten Facilities Grant Program. Created by Assembly Bill 1808, the program appropriates $100,000,000 for fiscal year 2018-19 for grants to school districts that lack facilities for full-day kindergarten.

The district has implemented extended-day kindergarten at each of the three elementary schools without adding facilities, but the district is hoping to enhance its existing facilities. This grant program gives preference to districts that lack financial resources or have a high percentage of students eligible for free or reduced-price meals, so it is not clear that PUSD will be eligible under the current criteria.

Governor Newsom has proposed adding another $750 million to the program in 2019-2020 and the grant criteria may change. The state will award $60 million in its next round of grant funding, and applications are due by May 30, 2019.

Editor’s note: Did you know that Piedmont’s KCOM 27 posts video of all city and school board meetings online? You can stay informed even when you can’t attend meetings.

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