Work is underway at Williams Elementary School to replace the 1974 multi-purpose room, which was originally built as a cafeteria to serve less than half the number of students now enrolled.
Construction is expected to be ongoing over the summer, and will include building an expanded parking lot with a student drop-off area, and installation of a new four-way stop sign at the intersection of E Street and Pinewood Court.
“The construction company is doing a great job,” said Cameron Harrison, of Landmark Construction, who oversees the project. “It is still on schedule to open by the time school starts.”
The Williams Unified School District Board of Trustees approved raising their contingency from $250,000 to $650,000 to cover some unanticipated costs, including traffic and playground improvements at their June 12 meeting.
Replacing the asphalt on the playground, at a cost of $150,000, was not part of the original plan, but has been deemed necessary to meet ADA compliance for the running slope of the new walkways, officials said.
“We can afford it,” said Trustee George Simmons. “We have to. It has to be done. We have to find the money somewhere.”
The new multi-purpose building, parking lot, playground, and traffic improvements are being funded by the $11 million general obligation bond, which voters approved in 2016 for facility improvements. The district also plans to build a new gymnasium at the Jr./Sr. High School, which is scheduled to get underway in April 2020, and other projects.
The new multi-purpose room, when completed, will allow the Elementary School to reduce lunch periods from six to two or three, as well as provide space for school assemblies and partner activities with the city of Williams.
The Williams City Council last week approved construction of a new four-way controlled intersection as traffic is expected to increase in the future due to increased enrollment, officials said.
The school district’s traffic impact assessment and Williams City Council agreed that a controlled intersection, which the school district must pay for, would improve pedestrian safety within the school zone, reduce the potential for pedestrian-vehicle conflicts, and improve school access during peak hours.
Williams Unified School District Superintendent Edgar Lampkin said school improvement projects tend to be completed in “zigzag” fashion in order for the district to maximize bond revenue from local taxpayers with available grants and loans, including hardship and modernization funds from the state.
“It helps us to be able to do a lot more with a lot less,” Lampkin said.
The Williams Unified School District has identified about $27 million in facility improvement needs, and the school board has not ruled out putting another school bond before the voters in 2020. ■