District Plans $7 Million Upgrade for Live Oak

Plan brings needed improvements to Morgan Hill’s oldest high
By spending $7 million in bond funds and $1.27 million in deferred maintenance funds, the Morgan Hill School District will fulfill a promise made in 1999 to update the Live Oak High campus and repair the deterioration that has made some buildings practically unusable.

For years, community members have complained that Live Oak High was not receiving the attention that it should, that the district was not living up to its promises to refurbish Live Oak as it built a new high school and elementary school.

“I think we should be pleased that we’re finally living up to what our voters expected when they passed the bond more than six years ago,” said Trustee Kathy Sullivan.

Morgan Hill voters passed the bond in July 1999 on the third try. The bond was to pay for the construction of Sobrato High, Barrett Elementary and the renovation of Live Oak.

Although a new practice gym and library were completed several years ago, along with a new track and football field and major renovations to several classroom buildings, there are many more areas crying out for attention, as community members and Live Oak staff didn’t hesitate to remind trustees during School Board meetings.

The district plans to spend approximately $7 million in bond funds to further renovate Live Oak High School. Projected work includes modernization of the boys’ locker room and the auditorium, relocating student lockers, upgrading the security camera system and the school’s technology infrastructure and reconstructing the girls’ softball fields.

The work itself is estimated to cost $5.3 million and another $1.7 million in soft costs – architectural design services, FF&E (furniture, furnishings and equipment) and other costs – will also be necessary.

With deferred maintenance funds, other projects may be scheduled for completion, including interior upgrades for the industrial technology (600) building, a fire alarm upgrade, roof replacement for several buildings and re-surfacing of the parking lots.

These projects have an estimated total cost of $1,270,000.

Director of Construction and Modernization Al Solis presented trustees a projected schedule at the Nov. 8 board meeting, showing renovation of the 600 classroom building beginning after this school year, along with the fire alarm upgrade, the boys locker room modernization, and security and technology upgrades.

According to the schedule, work on the auditorium and relocating the lockers would not begin until the next school year. Roof replacement and parking lot resurfacing would not begin until summer ’07.

This summer, the district spent $303,251 in “refreshing” some of the classrooms at Live Oak, as well as replacing some furniture. Donna Foster’s fashion design classroom was one of the rooms that received a facelift.

“It makes a huge difference,” she told School Board trustees, “I’m just so pleased.”

The buildings scheduled for the next phase of renovation, however, need more than just a facelift. Holes in the walls, broken down furniture and fixtures, wiring and plumbing problems also must be resolved.

“I have to tell you that the 600 building is a priority for me,” said School Board President Shellé Thomas. “That is important for both our teachers and students who spend time in there on a daily basis.”

Solis said the schedule and the costs are still tentative, but he will bring a more detailed budget to the board once a better definition of the scope of the work has been created.

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