Williams Unified launches plan to improve school facilities

Williams Unified School District Superintendent Edgar Lampkin, left, and Construction Project Leader Cameron Harrison unveil the district’s Facilities Master Plan at a press conference at City Hall on Jan. 17.

Williams Unified School District officials unveiled their final Facilities Master Plan at a press conference at Williams City Hall on Jan. 17.

The master plan will be used as a roadmap to improve school facilities over the next eight to 10 years, including the rehabilitation of existing buildings and construction of new facilities, said Superintendent Edgar Lampkin.

“The Facilities Master Plan will help us to not just throw a dart and see what (project) we’re going to hit next,” Lampkin said. “It gives us a clear picture – a systemic plan – on the steps we are going to be taking to get all of our facilities up to date.”

The school board approved the Facilities Master Plan during their regular school board meeting on Dec. 14. The district plans to leverage $11 million in general obligation bonds, which voters in the school district approved in the 2016 general election, for approximately $32 million in new school construction and modernization funding, low-interest loans and hardship grants from the state, officials said.

The district is also floating the possibility of asking voters to approve another $12 million bond measure in 2020.

In addition to rehabilitation of existing buildings, the district hopes to build another elementary school to meet an anticipated increase in population; construct a new $20 million joint-use gym at the high school; expand the parking lots to improve traffic circulation; replace antiquated electrical, heating, and cooling systems; and install new sewer and water lines.

“Williams Unified School District facilities are in need of replacing portable classrooms with permanent buildings and modernizing our current historic buildings, as we work to build a flagship that our community can have pride in,” said Project Manager Cameron Harrison of Landmark Construction.

The construction team, in addition to Harrison, includes Principal Architect Christina Frankel of Derivi Castellanos Architects, Inc., School Works Financial Advisors Michael Cannon and Ken Reynolds, Isom Advisor Brian Quint, and support staff.

From May to November 2017, the team held multiple meetings and sought the input from the school board, school staff, parents, students, and community stakeholders.

The district has identified about $29.8 million in needs at the elementary school and $32.5 million in needs at the middle and high schools, according to the plan.

One of the most often-mention needs identified in the meetings was for a larger multi-purpose room/cafeteria building at Williams Elementary School, officials said.

Due to state requirements, the cafeteria’s size currently requires six lunch periods during the school day to provide meals to students. School officials said a larger multipurpose building and kitchen would allow the school to reduce lunch periods to two or three.

Projects also proposed in the plan include modernizing the main building and science wing at the high school, constructing new two-story classrooms, installing new soccer fields, and renovating the track and football field.

Some projects are already underway, Lampkin said, including modernizing the weight and exercise room, which should be completed by the end of the summer.

Lampkin said the school district has worked closely on facilities planning with local businesses, the Colusa County Office of Education, and officials from the city, including Councilman John Troughton and City Administrator Frank Kennedy.

Troughton, chairman of the advisory committee, was a member of the first class to attend Williams High School at its current location, when it opened in 1957.

“I got involved in this because I think it is important to the community, without a doubt,” Troughton said.

School Board President Sylvia Vacca, who graduated from Williams High School in 1998, said it is time for the school facilities to be renovated, modernized, and for new facilities to be constructed in order to meet the educational, physical, and social needs of the students.
“We need it; our kids need it; and our community needs it,” Vacca said.

Williams Unified School District will host a public reception from 5-8 PM on Thursday, Feb. 1, in the Granzella’s Banquet Hall, 457 7th St., Williams, to introduce the bond committee, the new community oversight committee, the construction team, and to present the finalized version of the Facilities Master Plan to the public. County and city officials and local business representatives are also invited to attend. ■

Susan Meeker is the Editor and Reporter for the Pioneer Review. She started her position with the Pioneer Review in January 2017 as the Advertising Manager. Susan specializes in local crime, government reporting. She also loves covering the various topics and events in our county. You can send her a message at susan@colusacountynews.net