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MONTEBELLO UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT SEEING GREAT PROGRESS IN BOND CONSTRUCTION PROJECTS

STAFF REPORT

Students returning to the Montebello Unified School District (MUSD) this week are in for quite a nice surprise as they sit down for their first week of classes.

Given what has transpired at the embattled school district with all the controversy surrounding the 2016 Measure GS $300 million renovation bond, HMG-LCCN decided to look at the actual construction projects and progress made using bond funds.

The goal of the bond encompassed critical renovation projects; addressing modernization and safety needs; upgrading classrooms, libraries and computer networks; improving the energy efficiency of classrooms and buildings, all with the goal of providing students with 21st century classrooms.

The first phase of the bond program provided approximately $82.5 million for building improvements and nearly $17.5 million for technology enhancements.

Construction will be completed over a 3-year period that began in 2017. To date, the bond construction management company, Del Terra Group, has managed expenditures of almost $37 million and has facilitated the District in its effort to commit $71 million related to bond projects through the end of the June 2018.

Over the summer, the Del Terra project management team has been working districtwide with various contractors to provide HVAC improvements, Solar PV upgrades, Network Cabling, establishing Wifi on every campus, building temporary classrooms for students to be housed within a safe area while existing old classrooms are demolished & construction is being done, and managing the design of a new two-story classroom building and a new softball field complex.

While some schools are scheduled to undergo major construction, not all projects require hard hats — some are more cosmetic but will transform classrooms and brighten the learning environment. These focused bond projects convert outdated spaces into flexible and dynamic learning environments.

All of these improvements would not be possible without the support of MUSD voters who approved the GS “Good Schools” Bond in 2016 with an overwhelming 78% approval of the vote.

In a clear voice, voters sent a resounding message to MUSD, and charged the board and staff with the task of creating more vibrant, engaging, and safer school environments.

MUSD conducted an extensive search via an RFP for a reputable and experienced company to manage its program and assets. Del Terra Group was selected out of a number of respondents based on, among other things, its extensive work experience with other school districts, the Del Terra Group has managed over $3 Billion in successful school construction bond programs and public works projects.

Luis Rojas, President and CEO of Del Terra , told HMG-CN, “We were honored that the district placed their confidence in Del Terra Group to manage the many wonderful projects called for in the bond program. In order for the district to maintain the best teachers and promote quality learning experiences, it must provide them with the best facilities, and when you have good facilities you show students you are taking them seriously.”

Del Terra is also committed to making MUSD’s schools more energy efficient. Since the project’s inception, the project management team has overseen the design and construction of thirty Energy Conservation Measure (ECM) Projects including Solar PV, battery storage, high efficiency transformer replacements, lighting upgrades, and HVAC system replacements at 17 school sites, the District’s administrative office, transportation yard and the facilities/maintenance and operations site. Each site has at least one ECM project.
These projects are approximately 95 percent complete; the expenditures on these projects have totaled $26.1 million through the end of June 2018.

Looking toward the immediate future, the Bond Program also includes the long-awaited renovation of Bell Gardens Elementary School (BGE).

The BGE project is budgeted at more than $20 million and includes the demolition of twenty-one old and unsafe classrooms and buildings. In place will be the construction of a new two-story building with twenty classrooms, a library, two computer labs, two teacher work rooms, and restrooms.

The groundbreaking is expected to occur in early September .

“Moving forward, we are committed to being a good partner with MUSD and look forward to producing strong-performing schools, which will provide improved learning environments and in turn, strengthen property values and fuel local economic development,” said Rojas. “We’ve made a tremendous amount of progress in a short time but here are still challenges before us, however we are confident that our work with our partners at district facilities will produce projects everyone can take great pride in. We have a strong commitment to the students, parents and stakeholders of the MUSD.”

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