New school construction project headed to Williams

Groundbreaking on a new multipurpose room at Williams Elementary School could begin as early as March.

The Williams Unified School District Board of Trustees plans to select the contractor to build the $6.5 million facility before the end of the month, officials said at a special meeting in late September.

Superintendent Edgar Lampkin said once the contractor is selected, the district hopes within a few weeks to have the plans for the new facility to the Division of State Architect, who provides design and construction oversight for all California K-12 public schools.

“Once the project is approved, we hope to start construction sometime in the spring, with work continuing all the way through the summer months,” Lampkin said.

The new 11,500 square-foot multipurpose room will be a steel-framed single-story building that will provide the district with multiple uses, including food service and a gymnasium.

Initial plans include a commercial kitchen with a walk-in cooler, walk-in freezer, dry food storage area, paper storage area, office, staff restroom, custodian closet, ADA accessible student restrooms, and sports and equipment storage rooms. The multipurpose room will be built on 1.2 acres and will include a new parking lot, officials said.

At last month’s special meeting, the school board approved a lease-leaseback structure of financing, through which the district will lease the property to the company they select to build the multipurpose room, and then lease it back over a period of time for a price equivalent to the construction costs.

This method of funding construction is popular among school districts that want to stretch out payments, rather than fund the entire cost during the period of construction, officials said.

“We’ve been talking to our project manager, and when you have a project greater than $5 million, it makes more sense to have a lease-leaseback process,” said Lampkin.

Sylvia Vaca, school board president, said she has heard pros and cons associated with a lease-leaseback process, as opposed to the traditional design, bid, and build agreements, but felt it was the best construction delivery method for the district.

The school board agreed with a 4-0 vote.

Funding from Measure C, which district voters approved in 2016 with a 72.2 percent super-majority, will fund the project.

Measure C authorized Williams Unified School District to issue up to a total of $11 million in bonds with interest rates up to the statutory limit of 12 percent.

Officials said they plan to use bond funding, leveraged with Proposition 39 and other reserved funds, to modernize, renovate and/or construct classrooms, restrooms, libraries; make health, safety and handicapped accessibility improvements; replace temporary portables; and construct or upgrade facilities for school and community use.

Officials are looking at construction of the new multipurpose room to be completed by December of 2019.