Tours of Wilson, McKinley and Sycamore Schools were given last Thursday for the Citizens’ Bond Oversight Committee members in order to check the progress of the Measure D projects and how each project is coming along.

Phase I of the bond measure is nearly completed and Inspection Manager Ray Dalton and Construction Project Manager Zane Schreder led the tours with Superintendent Rick Rubino and Gridley Unified's Project Manager Chris McIntire.

Members of the Bond Oversight Committee attending were Gary Gibson, Dan Boeger and Mike Dahl.

Dalton expressed gratitude not only for McIntire and the way everything worked smoothly, but he also is grateful for the district maintenance and custodial staff who have been nothing but happy to move classrooms around and make the work easier for the contractors to complete.

McKinley and Wilson Schools required American with Disabilities Act (ADA) work in each bathroom, all front entry ways and classroom doors. Each classroom has a Heating and Air Conditioning (HVAC) closet which now houses a blower unit for the heater/air conditioner which means each teacher can control the heat and air in their individual classrooms. The HVAC units are no longer on the roof of Wilson which caused leaks in the roof in the past.

"It takes a real toll on the roofs to have heavy HVAC units up there," Rubino stated. "We are bound to get a longer roof life without the units on the roof."

Each of the condenser units are located on the ground outside the classrooms at Wilson School now which means 22 units will no longer be weighting down the roof.

The bathrooms have been totally renovated in each school with new sinks and handicapped accessible toilets.

While the old HVAC units and the old roofing materials were being removed, as well as when the work to replace them with new HVAC units was being done, the large crews working on Sycamore, Wilson and McKinley were working in some of the hottest weather conditions this summer with no air which made the conditions in the classrooms and hallways "stifling" at times.

Maintenance costs at Wilson and McKinley should be dramatically decreased with brand new HVAC installed as the District has had to replace several units per year at each school. Maintenance employees kept the 18 year old units at McKinley working eight years beyond their prime. The duct work at both elementary schools was installed with future new lighting systems in mind. Existing conduit from the old blower system will be used to install projectors on the ceilings to project images on classroom screens as the schools update technology.

Sycamore School, built originally in 1955, did not require the same, extensive work that Wilson and McKinley did because it had been modernized in 1993 to be ADA compliant.  The main project at Sycamore was new HVAC for the school and cafeteria and a new roof for the school, cafeteria and gymnasium. A new roof on the school also provided the opportunity to install new skylights which bring in much more natural light than the previous plastic ones. New fans on the gym roof will help improve ventilation at Sycamore as the old ones were not working. This will go a long way to keep the school cooler. It was decided to keep the previous roof on the Sycamore gym as not removing another layer would save the district $25,000 in removal costs.

Much of the past problems with Sycamore's roof were to an open mechanical well above the main hallway.  The units were completely exposed to the elements which created a lake when rain and leaves gathered in the old mechanical well. The new roof design on Sycamore's roof entailed the building of trusses covering a mechanical well which houses the HVAC units with pipes and vents connecting to the new condensers on the roof. The roof work at the schools has been done by Ark Design and Roofing. Randy Hill Construction is the lead agency for the HVAC and other construction projects. A total of six contracts were drawn up for the three school campuses.

Sycamore's new 25-year roofs on the school buildings and the gym are replacing roofs that were 20 years old.

Inspector Ray Dalton said that, although they are guaranteed for 25 years, the two roofs should last about 40 years.

With Phase I completed and the money spent, it is evident that Phase II, the replacement of 50 year old portables at Wilson and some portables at Sycamore and McKinley is badly needed. Phase II will also require some more work regarding the ADA requirements.

Both Rubino and McIntire are happy to have the new doors for each classroom for enhanced security because they now lock from the inside which means each teacher can lock their individual rooms with a key which will work in other classrooms if they happen to be out of theirs if the need arises.

Gridley Unified School District has had an Federal "E-rate" application turned in for the past two years in the hopes of obtaining high speed wireless capabilities at all of the schools. The cost to install at all three elementary schools would be approximately $600,000 and between $300,000 and $350,000 for Gridley High School. Gridley High School does not currently meet the requirements for the E-rate program at this time which is based on Free and Reduced Lunch counts.

Between 40 and 50 teachers will receive Google Nexus 7 tablets for this year following which will connect to the Chromecast device which displays the images on the tablet on a large screen in their classrooms. The tablet is available for all 111 teachers in the District should they complete the five Google for Education courses. Teachers were offered a stipend to take the five Google courses.

The waiting game continues for Phase II of Bond construction to begin after Measure D passed for $2.5 million. The school district will count the $2.5 million as their 40 percent contribution of a State School Facilities Bond if passed in November or at any time in the future. Under the state School Facilities Bond measure the State would pay 60 percent. A Statewide bond is alive and waiting for approval in November in order to replace portable classrooms.

Once Phase II is completed, school officials will look forward to Phase III for more work in the classrooms, such as carpeting, lighting, and cabinetry. The carpeting at Wilson School is 16 years old and is in desperate need of replacement. The good news is that the ADA compliance has been completed or it would have to be done at this phase. Another good point for the replacement of HVAC units at Wilson is that there will be much less noise in the classrooms now that the units are not on the roof and are outside. Each heater has its own compressor which brings heat through the attic of the schools. RB Spencer of Yuba City has done the work for both schools HVAC units.

If the State Bond passes in November, McKinley School would receive $1,453,000; Sycamore $455,000 and Wilson $2,258,000.

The good news is that no matter how long it takes to get State funding, the district's eligibility does not expire.

The bad news is that the cost of materials and prevailing wage in labor is detrimental when it comes to school projects and how long they can wait for funding.