MARTINEZ -- The Martinez Unified School District postponed a decision on minutes reporting and inched toward establishing the Susana Street school district maintenance yard as an alternate site for construction of a new Vicente-Martinez/Briones School campus.
The board has been divided on how detailed the minutes should be, and whether there is a need for video or audio taping. After a discussion of past practices and policy, Kathi McLaughlin stood firm again for a complete record of board meetings and again, the issue was postponed at the Aug. 26 meeting.
There was unanimous board approval for a $38,000 Phase 2 study of the Susana Street property because other potential sites have been eliminated, according to Superintendent Rami Muth, and the study is necessary to keep the project on track for state approval.
The process of building a new Vicente-Martinez/Briones School began in 2012 when the school board committed $5 million in Measure K bond funds for construction at the existing site on F Street near Alhambra Avenue.
This May, the California state Department of Education Allocation Board denied the use of bond funds on that site, which is laced with gas, oil and water pipelines.
In the interim, Jack Schrader & Associates was paid for making, and shepherding plans through the state approval process, relying on 2007 state standards. Cheryl King, senior associate for the firm explained then, " ... Apparently state protocol has changed in light of the 2010 PG&E gas pipeline explosion in San Bruno."
Muth confirmed that other site options have been exhausted, and Andi Stubbs, assistant superintendent of business services, recapped the situation with a timeline of events.
Stubbs recommended an appraisal of the existing campus property to help the board determine if it should be sold, or perhaps part of it could be used as an alternate maintenance yard site.
Board member Denise Elsken suggested that the board ask Realtors for an estimate of market value of properties contiguous to the F Street location instead of getting an appraisal, for the purposes of making a decision on the existing campus site.
During public comment on the project, several people spoke on behalf of Vicente-Martinez and Briones students, advising the board against use of the previously approved, single-story design plans made for the F Street site.
They claimed that a two-story design at the smaller Susana Street property would leave more land for a courtyard and other outdoor uses. Speakers said outdoor space for "learning while doing" and a natural setting is needed, and there was even a suggestion that the campus be relocated to the Martinez Marina area.
The issue of how the changes will affect costs came up, and Muth was unable to answer the question about how much of Measure K funding has already been spent on the Vicente-Martinez/Briones project.
Originally, the project was eligible for matching state funds, presuming passage of a state bond. However, the project fell out of a queue for those funds and the state bond did not make it to the ballot.
Stubbs said the project will likely qualify for a state "hardship grant," possibly ending up as a benefit locally (which may make up for some of the funds already spent).
It was not clear if past matching funds from the state have been deposited back into the Measure K account, nor was there a financial recap included in the timeline report.
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