UC Construction Continues With No End in Sight

Jake Hable, Staff Writer

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   Starting in November, UC High students were forced to use an alternative route to enter PE locker rooms, team lockers and the gym due to construction that blocked the back entrances and this spring, construction on the foyer to the gymnasium began.                                                      

   The amount of construction throughout the school, including the gym area, affects students. “I hate having the extra construction around the gym,” said Freshman Julian Whitmore. “The construction gets in the way of where I need to go for PE. There is also a smell around in that area that bothers the other students and me.”

   Some students wonder about the importance of a remodeled gym, over other facilities. “Why can they remodel the gymnasium but not the student bathrooms?” asked Sophomore Camille Berlandier.

    According to Principal Jeff Olivero, “Meetings are held to decide what the money is spent on. There are parents, students, and administrators on the board.”

   Proposition S, Z, and M are the three main propositions that allow the school to get money from the state. A board-approved phasing plan for bond projects is being implemented by the district’s Facilities, Planning, and Construction (FPC) Division, according to the San Diego Unified School District website (sandiegounified.org).

   According to Olivero, “[The money] we get tends to get spent on salaries and not buildings. So, it allows money to be put in for construction and remodel only.” Proposition S construction began, in the San Diego School District, on November 4, 2008 (sandiegounified.org).

   The district website also explains that Proposition S helps provide new facilities for the school. This includes things like desks, whiteboards, computers, and other supplies, while it also provides funding for remodeling and renewing of classrooms and other buildings, like bathrooms or gymnasiums (sandiegounified.org).

   “Having nice or top-notch facilities and fields draws more students in [to the school],” said Vice Principal Michael Paredes. “It’s a draw to potential families and makes it a place where students want to go.”

   According to Olivero, the money that the school is given comes directly from taxpayer dollars, and there is a sign near the entrance to the school that reads, “Your taxpayer dollars at work.”

   According to Olivero, the school cannot always choose what to spend money on and, most of the time, extra money is spent making sure the adjustments and remodels are up to standard with the American Disability Act rules. “If sinks aren’t high enough or toilets were the wrong elevation, we would have to re-do those and the other facilities on campus to meet the new laws,” said Olivero.

   “When the state voters approve [what we decide on] then they begin to hold meetings at the school and say,‘We’re getting 10 million dollars. What should we prioritize for the use of that money? Should we do this first?  Should we do that first?’ With stakeholders, there are meetings set up with the community and with the educators and parents and everyone to ask, ‘What should we do first with the money?’” explained Olivero.

   “[Students] do have a say [on what the money is spent on] if they attend the meetings we hold,” said Olivero. “Student leaders have been included in our meetings when it is relevant,” stated Paredes. “There are usually three students that join us, and one comes up and votes.”

   At the beginning of each school year, according to administrators, students are given the opportunity to join school committees, including the School Site Governance Team. The public is invited to attend meetings and dates and times are announced in the bulletin, in the weekly phone calls home to parents, at PTSA meetings and on the school website.

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