Cold Spring Seeks to Build New Building
Nearly a year after the marginal failure of Measure L2020, the $7.8 million Cold Spring School bond measure that was on the ballot last November, school staff, admin, and parents have dusted themselves off to launch a capital campaign to fund a much-needed expansion of the school.
“We still have a need. That did not go away when the bond failed,” said CSS superintendent Dr. Amy Alzina.
With enrollment growing to nearly 200 students in the past 18 months, space is as tight as ever, with special programs like art being housed in the school auditorium and some special education programs housed in the school library.
“Since the failure of the bond, we had to choose: Do we put a band-aid on the problem and build more temporary, portable classrooms, or do we invest in the future of our school with a long-term solution?” Alzina said.
Measure L2020 had been in the works for many years, as the Cold Spring School Board has long been focused on replacing the two remaining portable buildings, which are nearly 30 years old and well past their useful life. A third portable building, which housed art classes, was removed in 2019 after it was in disrepair. In pre-COVID days, the two remaining portable classrooms housed the afterschool program and special education; now they house the second-grade class and art. In 2016 the Board voted to move forward with a new building to house classrooms and administrative offices; the project tied to the bond measure added on to that plan, with plans for a 6,000 square-foot building to house three classrooms as well as the front office staff, and offices for school specialists.
The proposed building was to be the new gateway to the school, giving a place for visitors to check in before coming onto campus. As it stands now, the office and administration building are located in the center of campus, causing visitors to have to enter the campus before checking in with campus officials, which many have considered a security issue. The plan also included improvements to existing infrastructure on the 100-year-old buildings include repairing or replacing roofs and restrooms, as well as repairing or replacing aging water/sewer lines, fire alarms, and schoolwide communication systems, among several other maintenance items. The funds would have also allowed for ADA improvements.
If passed, Measure L2020 would have cost district residents $13-$14 per $100,000 of assessed value per year. The last measure to pass was Measure C ($2.4 million) in 2008, which was approved after the failure of two previous ballot measures in November 2006 (Measure K for $14 million) and February 2008 (Measure R for $8.75 million). Measure C funds went to renovate the seven older classrooms and two student restrooms in the main school building, as well as improvements to the play areas with a new play structure, blacktop, and new landscaping on the corner of Cold Spring and Sycamore Canyon roads.
After the failure of the bond last November, the Board formed a Facilities Task Force, which includes 12 district residents ranging from school parents, faculty, staff, and community members.
“We tasked them with giving us input on facility needs, both short and long term,” Alzina explained. In June, the Task Force issued a formal recommendation to construct a pared down, permanent building in two phases, beginning with two classrooms in Phase 1 followed by a third classroom and administration/office area in Phase 2. The classrooms in Phase 1 will be utilized by STEAM and Art classes, so the traditional, expensive build-out for a full-time classroom will not be necessary.
“It will feel industrial, like a workspace or a garage, that can be utilized many different ways,” Alzina said of the classroom building. The new classrooms will be built next to the two portable classrooms near the entrance to the school. The first phase will cost about $1.6 million, $1 million of which will be pulled from facility reserves.
Phase 2 of the project will cost an additional $2 million, and will include one additional classroom, plus administrative offices, becoming the entrance to campus as desired in the school’s master plan. This will allow the library to expand into the current office space. The second phase of the project will be built where the portable classrooms are currently.
“We’ve tried really hard to make it look like the rest of the campus,” Alzina said, adding that the project is being designed by Rachel Bergseteren of 19six Architects. It’s likely Phase 2 will require the approval of a future bond measure.
Parents Melissa McCann, chair, and Ali Quivey, co-chair, are launching a capital campaign, Building Bright Futures, to help fund Phase 1 of the project; they are endeavoring to raise $600,000. The kickstart to the campaign is a holiday event at Montecito Club on December 3.
“It’s the perfect time to enjoy a night out and donate to our wonderful school,” McCann said.
The enrollment at the school is growing from the ground up, with many families moving to Montecito with kindergarteners who will be at the school through sixth grade. The district is the highest performing district in the state, with 97% of students meeting or exceeding standards in English Language Arts and 95% meeting or exceeding standards in math. The district’s financial rating was also just upgraded from AA+ to a AAA Rating, due to the district’s financial management policies, including the Board’s reserve policy adopted three years ago, budgeting and fiscal management, and conservative three-year budgeting practices.
“Our hope is that the community will see we are doing everything possible to be responsible with taxpayer money,” Alzina said. “Costs have massively increased since the influx of students during the pandemic. Yet we do really well within our means.”
Spending is expected to increase in the coming years, with new mandates from the State requiring schools to provide free and reduced cost lunch by next year as well as the expansion of the Transitional Kindergarten (TK) program, which will eventually include all 4-year-olds, regardless of when their birthdays are.
Construction on Phase 1 of the new building is expected to take place in January 2022, with completion by December 2022. For more information, and to donate, visit www.coldspringfoundation.com/buildingbrightfutures.