The Coast News Group
Oceanside Unified postpones public workshop on Measure W projects
The school district is planning to demolish and rebuild Reynolds Elementary with Measure W funds. Photo via Facebook
CitiesNewsOceansideOceanside FeaturedPolitics & Government

Oceanside school board postpones talks on Measure W projects

OCEANSIDE — The Oceanside Unified School District board will postpone a public workshop to discuss potential bond-funded school improvement projects until March.

The recently approved Measure W allows the school to issue up to $160 million in general obligation bonds to modernize and improve school facilities, including upgrading schools with more equipment related to science, technology, engineering, arts and math, or STEAM, instructional technology for distance learning, and several other facility upgrades to HVAC, roofing, electrical and capital maintenance.

Measure W comes on the heels of school modernization bonds worth $195 million, which voters authorized through Proposition H in 2008. The school board has tapped nearly all its Proposition H capacity through six issuances since 2009 — the most recent of which was approved in July 2020.

Proposition H, in turn, followed an earlier $125 million bond measure, Proposition G, which voters authorized in 2000 to build three new schools and upgrade six others.

Oceanside Unified administrative staff and consultants brought forward Measure W’s potential project list to the board at its Jan. 18 meeting.

Penny McGrew, program manager at MAAS Companies who also manages both the school’s Proposition H and Measure W programs, presented three different funding scenarios to the board, with breakdowns of how much money should go into various facilities throughout the district.

All of the scenarios include districtwide projects, such as a new track and field for both Oceanside and El Camino high schools and new playgrounds and shade structures across the district’s campuses. The big difference between each of the scenarios is the amount of state and federal funding to feed these projects in addition to Measure W dollars.

The first scenario only considered funding from Measure W and Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief, or ESSER, funds, which come from the state in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Altogether, this scenario would provide $170.7 million to the project list.

The second scenario would consider mostly the same funding from the first scenario plus an additional $25 million grant from the U.S. Department of Defense, or DoD, that could go toward Stuart Mesa Elementary’s campus on Marine Corps Camp Pendleton’s base if awarded to the district.

“Stuart Mesa would get a full renovation in this scenario with this grant,” McGrew said during the Jan. 18 meeting.

Also under this scenario, the district-wide playground replacement project would be broken up into phases and done over the next few summers rather than all at once.

The third scenario would include the DoD grant, Measure W, ESSER funds and other state funding for the various projects for an estimated total of $225.5 million in funding.

“More funding means more work at each site,” McGrew said.

All three scenarios include the Reynolds Elementary demolition and rebuild as well as Surfside Academy’s modernization projects. Other schools listed as top priorities for Measure W dollars included King Middle School and Stuart Mesa, Laurel, Ivey Ranch and McAuliffe elementary schools.

Supt. Julie Vitale noted that the schools listed in the project list were based on the district’s Long-Range Facilities Master Plan. Still, some board members questioned why certain schools were chosen.

Trustee Eleanor Juanita Evans felt the district had already invested a lot of money into McAuliffe Elementary in the past.

“We’ve invested a lot of money into that school,” Evans said, noting that the school was “poorly built and poorly planned,” which is why so much money has gone into it to address those issues.

But McGrew said that according to the Long-Range Facilities Master Plan, when looking at each school’s needs, McAuliffe has only received small amounts for playground upgrades and not a significant amount of money for modernization and other improvements.

Board Vice President Raquel Alvarez requested a workshop to be scheduled so that the board could go over in further detail which schools should be included in the project.

“There are a lot of questions because we’re going over three different scenarios,” Alvarez said.

Trustee Eric Joyce also noted that he would like to see a project make WiFi available everywhere across the district’s campuses.

Supt. Julie Vitale noted that staff isn’t in a huge hurry with any project other than the shade structures, which is considered a high priority for the district.

Currently, the plan is to install metal shade structures throughout the district. However, Joyce opted for fabric shade structures since it was determined that putting solar panels on the metal shade structures would not generate a worthwhile amount of power after all. Still, other board members like Evans want to see the more durable metal shade structures in place of shorter lifespan fabric.

The Measure W public workshop is scheduled for 5-8 p.m. on March 22.