Trustees discuss flavored tobacco and naloxone

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Photo by Crystal Apilado/Winters Express

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Winters Joint Unified School District officials discussed some significant issues during their regularly scheduled meeting on September 16.

Banning flavored tobacco in Winters, a million-dollar school construction project, and introducing naloxone into the district were just a few agenda items, leaving officials with serious decisions.

Acting Superintendent Phoebe Girimonte started with a board resolution that supports banning the sale of flavored tobacco products in Winters. She recalled Winters High School Friday Night Live Group Revoke the Smoke Campaign July presentation by teacher and advisor Matt Baker and students Jadon Clifford and Cristina Ramirez.

“They asked the board for their support with this resolution to ban the sale of flavored tobacco products in our town,” Girimonte said, adding she also attended a 2×2 meeting on Aug. 24, where city officials discussed the matter. “Given the public health risks associated with youth tobacco use and the tobacco industry’s effort to target youth in vulnerable communities like ours, staff recommends that the Board of Trustees approve the resolution.”

After approval, officials got right to Senior Project Manager Mary Fitzpatrick’s facilities report for the WHS and Physical Education and Music Building. She handed over the details to CORE Construction Project Manager Kurt Parriott, who discussed scope quantification, bid results and the total budget.

Parriott said since the “extensive subcontractor outreach that has helped maximize the bidding participation for this project,” that started in July, the group got 86 proposals for 25 different trade groups.

“Upon receiving the proposals, we began interviewing subcontractors to dive into the details,” Parriott said. “We interviewed at least two to three subcontractor partners s in every trade and reviewed them on base price and overall schedule compliance.”

From start to finish, the project is expected to cost $5,431.

Parriott said CORE’s value engineering approach and cost savings efforts are keeping the total price down, with the firm exploring how to simplify the site concrete and electric systems. Board President Carrie Green questioned the number of proposals, asking if the amount was average. Though Parriott said it was “a little more than we were anticipating given the times, Fitzpatrick said, “it’s better than what we have seen in the past.”

If all goes well with the projected grand master plan approved by the board, Parriott said rough site construction could begin by November and the site substantially completed for the first day of the 2023 school year.

But Fitzpatrick warned officials about the timeline.

“The schedule is very tight because of equipment delays,” Fitzpatrick said, adding the lack of fitness apparatus is also an issue along with HVAC material shortages.

While scheduling is an issue with this project, funding is another problem for the proposed eight-room addition to Waggoneer Elementary. Fitzpatrick said the most recent estimate took her staff by profound surprise.

“It came in six million over our projected budget for the project,” Fitzpatrick said, adding now the question is whether or not the cost estimate or project design is too high.

A cost-estimating firm is researching the matter; meanwhile, officials may have to consider scaling down, constructing six classrooms instead of eight, and eliminating a second parking lot.

“We don’t want to over-design and not have the project move  forward,” Fitzpatrick said.

In the special education and student services portion of the district meeting, school nurse Elizabeth Nelson explained to officials the need for districts to supply naloxone nasal spray, an opioid overdose treatment.

“Things like percocet all the way over to fentanyl — which has been in the news quite a bit lately — could be a concern for us,” Nelson said.

Nelson said that overdoses could be intentional or unintentional, adding that if someone cannot correctly manage surgery medications, they could be in danger. She explained that the California Department of Healthcare Services Naloxone Distribution Project is a free program already in place throughout regional schools. If the district implements the program, staff can be trained to administer the nasal spray.

Nelson advised officials that a total of 24 units, which is 48 doses, would be sufficient for the school district, with four doses at each site and 12 units available for at-risk students or family members.

Before passing the resolution to implement the program, Green shared her worry.

“It is scary times that we live in that we are here talking about the need, but even scarier to be in need and not have it,” Green said.

Officials also passed resolutions approving textbook and instructional material sufficiency, completion improvement grants and unaudited actual financial reports.

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