Colusa Unified begins discussion on aging facilities

How Colusa Unified School District officials deal with aging portable buildings that are long past their useful life expectancy will be the subject of community meetings on facility needs that will be held throughout the school year.

Colusa Unified School District officials have started a monthly “community conversation” about the district’s aging facilities and what the next steps might be to create a 21st century learning environment for their students.

Colusa Unified is hosting a series of meetings throughout the school year to get the community talking about the needs of the district’s aging schools.

The next meeting will be held at 5:30 PM on Monday, Oct. 8, inside the District Office Auditorium, located at 745 10th St.

“Our goal is to end this process in May of 2019 with a long-term plan for CUSD facilities,” noted Superintendent Dwayne Newman, during his first presentation to the community on Sept. 10.

Built in the 1950s, the 1960s, and the 1970s, Colusa Unified’s three campuses are a collection of permanent structures and portable classrooms, officials said. They all have rich history, but it’s their futures, that are at the heart of a larger discussion that school officials hare having about what to do to meet the educational needs of today’s students and students of the future.

While $5.5 million in bond revenue, leveraged with about $2 million from Proposition 39 and district reserves, helped with facility repairs and upgrades a few years ago, much more work needs to be done, Newman said.

Burchfield Primary School, built in the 1950s, will be the subject of Colusa Unified School District’s community discussions about facility needs and educating students in the 21st century.

Over the course of the year, topics of the meetings will include the “repair vs. replace” debate, as well as potential funding mechanisms.

“By 2021, construction escalation costs and continued aging of our existing buildings will put us back to needing about $35 million just to modernize,” Newman said.

District officials estimate the school’s critical needs total about $9.6 million. About $14 million is needed to make necessary repairs or upgrades, and $$8.7 million is needed to make the recommended repairs or upgrades.

At the Oct. 8 meeting the district will examine how public schools have changed over the past 50 years, and look at how modern facilities help students learn in the 21st century.
Future meetings will include the current state of CUSD facilities, developing a long-term vision of facilities (2030 and beyond), and developing priorities for building and/or repairing facilities.

Community members residing within Colusa Unified School District are encouraged to attend the meetings.