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Will Weston School have a new gym?
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A big part of the modernization of Weston School could be a new gymnasium.

How to go about securing the extra funding is still to be determined even after the Ripon Unified school board spent three hours Wednesday mulling over the options.

“A (new multi-purpose building) is not what we want or wish but what we need,” Principal Lisa Fereria said at the special session workshop held on her campus.

Trustees will squeeze in another workshop prior to their Aug. 12 meeting. That’s when they’ll decide on the matter.

Thanks to the voter-approved Measure G, Weston will be the first of two schools – Colony Oak School is the other on the $25.2 million bond measure – to have outdated portable structures replaced with new permanent classrooms and support facilities.  

But the project is budgeted at $10.1 million with another $300,000 in contingency as to cover unexpected cost coupled with inflation.

Of the three options presented by the team of Program Management Integration, architect Tim Huff & Associates, and contractor C.T. Brayton & Sons, Option 1 consisting standard-sized classrooms for grades K-6 and larger ones (1,200 square feet) for grades 7-8 and interior upgrades to the existing multi-use building was projected slightly under budget at $9.8 million.

“There would be no delays and it’s what we presented to the voters,” said PMI Chief Executive Officer Khushroo Gheyara.

The gym would be part of the future plans. By then, the stand-alone project could cost as much as $1.8 million, according to architect Tim Huff.

In the case of Option 3 – included in the schematic design is standard-sized classrooms for all grades; two kindergarten classrooms equipped with a shared space; reconfiguring the current multi-purpose room to accommodate a library, computer lab and administration offices; and the new gym – the cost is estimated at $10.7 million or about $366,000 over the main budget and contingency.

The need for a new gym is based on capacity and the limited space that makes it too dangerous to host sporting events.

Fereria noted that current capacity of the multi-purpose facility at Weston is 471. “Our enrollment is 479 – we do not all fit in this room,” she said.

Gheyara believes developer fees can help foot some of the cost for a new facility.

“Developer fees are used district-wide,” he said. “There may be more legal than financial matters to deal with (in trying to use the available developer fees for the Weston gym).”

Gheyara also mentioned the possibility of the district entering into a joint-use pact with perhaps the City of Ripon. One sticking point is that the state has no remaining bond authority to fund such projects. A state bond that will go before the voters in November, if approved, might provide some of the necessary funds.

Huff said the current Weston multi-use room space is about 3,000 square feet. Park View, in comparison, has 6,000 square feet of play area.

The proposed multi-purpose facility as presented in Option 2 and Option 3 is 6,600 square feet but includes kitchen space, leaving 4,200 square feet for the main floor.

Option 2 has most of the bells and whistles and comes with an estimated cost of $11.2 million. RUSD officials would have to come up with another $842,000. This alternative plans features shared space for the K-6 classrooms, larger rooms for the 7-8 classrooms, and reconfigured existing multi-purpose building coupled with the new gym/kitchen area.

The board gave Gheyara and his team the go-ahead to identify the gym as part of the construction projects.

Trustees could look at accomplishing that by doing Option 2 or Option 3 in a combination of ways including earmarking the priorities while delaying certain items yet to be indentified on the construction list.

“This will be reviewed by the team,” Gheyara said.

His hope is for the board to approve the construction option at the next meeting. The goal for all involved is for work at Weston to be completed by July 15 and in time for the 2015-16 school year.