By Leon Romero
La Habra Journal
The Fullerton Joint Union High School District has released an initial project list for their ongoing Bond Facilities Projects, which involves the renovation of several of La Habra High School and Sonora High School’s facilities.
Once voters of the FJUHSD approved Measure I on November 4, 2014 they began planning for the renovation projects. Measure I allowed the District to provide $175 million in general obligation bonds in order to finance the projects with the funds collected from the sales of the bonds, according to a press release from the District.
The list included the first phase of projects for each of the six schools being renovated. La Habra High School will be receiving a new theatre and modernization of their stadium, lecture halls and gym.
Sonora High School will be receiving a new gym along with the modernization of their theatre. Both schools will also be receiving upgrades for their technology infrastructure.
According to the projects’ Facilities and Construction Director, Todd Butcher, the board has only approved the initial contract with the architects for the preliminary designs, but have allowed him to begin the modernization process for the existing gymnasiums and theatres.
The board has yet to authorize the construction of the new gymnasium and theatre. The modernization process’ construction period is estimated between 18 to 24 months, but Butcher noted that all of the projects should be completed within two to three years.
“We are working diligently on getting these preliminary designs to the board as quickly as possible,” said Butcher.
Measure I indicates that the project’s funds will only be spent on the schools’ specific improvement projects, and not on teacher or administrator salaries or other school operating costs. A Citizens’ Bond Oversight Committee has been formed in order to oversee the proper utilization of the bond proceeds for the project. Annual performance and financial audits have been implemented into the projects schedule as well.
The city of La Habra has no jurisdiction over the current projects, but it has surely brought excitement and delight to the city’s administration. La Habra Mayor, James Gomez, believes that education and public safety should be the top priorities for the community. “Any improvements done to our schools will benefit the students, the community, and will be very beneficial as a whole for La Habra,” said Gomez.
With the projects’ estimated construction time being between two to three years there is a question posed as to whether the projects will disrupt any daily school operations.
According to Sonora High School principal, Adam Bailey, the District has reassured him that the construction will have very minimal impact since the majority of the construction will be implemented on the perimeter of the school.
Sonora’s new gymnasium will possibly be constructed over the current racquetball and tennis courts, according to Bailey.
“The great thing about working with Mr. Butcher is he has a lot of experience with project designs, so he has several great ideas on how to work around the impacts the school renovations could bring,” said Bailey.
According to Butcher, the board has been very supportive of all the projects they have already started discussing within the bond.