School bonds funding school improvement projects at Waggoner, high school sites

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Photo by Crystal Apilado/Winters Express

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Exciting changes are coming to school sites in the Winters Joint Unified School District. More specifically, architectural additions that are slowly but surely changing from blueprints to fruition.

Measures R, D, P and W funded projects that were all originally approved by Trustees in November 2020. Their purpose, to finish various modernization projects at Winters High School and Waggoner Elementary.

“The high school is getting a new room for music, choir and band. They need room to store instruments and a space with good acoustics as well,” said Winters JUSD Superintendent Diana Jiménez. “Next to it will be a physical education space with a weight room. There, we can have PE classes, talk about wellness and nutrition and other standards for physical education.”

Measure R, a $15 million measure, passed in June 2014. It was followed by Measure D, a $17 million measure, in November 2016 and Measure P, a $20 million measure, in November 2018. Most recently, Measure W, a $20 million school bond measure, passed with about 60 percent of the vote in the November 2020 election.

With the building schematic designs still being formulated, the next step is submitting the plans to the Division of the State Architect (DSA) for final approval. Then construction will be able to commence.

WHS will install new wood floors at the Young Gymnasium thanks to Measure R that was approved by the Trustees back on Oct. 7. Most recently, design options for the gym floor were presented at the Feb. 17 meeting.

Meanwhile, Waggoner will also receive some TLC from the measure bond projects. According to Jiménez, Waggoner will get a new drop off area for students, a new parking lot for staff, modernized buildings and – perhaps most important – a new playground to accommodate the increase in expected Transitional Kindergarten (TK) students.

Starting this year, California will expand TK so that every four-year-old in the state has the opportunity to attend a high-quality, developmentally appropriate Pre-K program. Previously, TK was open to students who would turn 5 years old between September and December.

“It’s a really good time for us to invest and plan for the new Transitional Kindergarteners,” Jiménez explained. “TK is year one of a two-year kindergarten program and we know we’ll have increased enrollment every year now.”

As the bond projects’ planning nears completion, they hint at a bright future the school district is excited about.

“I’m excited about anything that provides a safe environment for our scholars. It’s great having community support in this and I’m also excited the students that do arts and music will have space and the students who’re into athletics are going to have a new space as well,” Jiménez said.

She also talked about the teacher involvement in the process.

“As the projects progress, teachers will be consulted in a planning committee and will have input on the furniture and other wares that need to be in the classroom,” Jiménez said.

Jiménez further explained the timing of these projects, stating that this year is about completing the plans and submitting them for approval. She also said that – with fingers crossed – construction of the WHS PE/Music building will begin in the summer of 2022 or ‘23 school year. Modernization for Waggoner, however, probably won’t get started until the Summer of 2025.

Times and dates are tentative, especially when it comes to the bureaucratic process these projects necessitate, as well as delays in construction due to resources on hold and/or rising costs as a result from the pandemic.

Most recently, Trustees experienced such challenges when the cost estimates to construct the three-classroom modular building project at Shirley Rominger Intermediate School brought them over the previously proposed budget, multiple times.

Specifically, some of the cost increases in that specific project were a result of an inspection by the plumbing mechanical engineer who reported that the existing gas line was not sufficient.

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