Correction: The original version of this story said that science classroom upgrades would be completed with funds outside the Measure J bond program, when in fact, they are now planned to be funded from within the program.
At a regular meeting Thursday evening, the South San Francisco Unified School District Board of Trustees voted 3-2 to approve the Master Plan for Phases II and III of Measure J school improvements.
Vice President Phil Weise, Trustee Maurice Goodman and the student board member Alex Moreno voted to approve the plans, while Trustee Liza Normandy and President Judy Bush voted no.
The main point of contention was whether improved science classrooms should be prioritized before certain athletic facilities, such as bleachers.
In Superintendent Alejandro Hogan's presentation, science classrooms appeared “below the line” of what the current bond program could actually pay for, and would require an additional $9 million that were not accounted for in the Phases II and III plans.
“The science classrooms should go above the line,” Bush said. Her decision not to vote to approve the Master Plan also stemmed from the fact that American Disabilities Act restrooms were not fully integrated into the current bond program, and also fell “below the line.”
Normandy supported the Master Plan, but also wanted definitive plans for financing science classrooms on the table as well.
Superintendent Alejandro Hogan said that there are additional monies outside the Measure J bonds that can be used for updating science classrooms.
Normandy and Bush requested that district staff bring plans back at a future meeting with an explanation of funds that fall outside Measure J bonds, so that the board could see the whole picture before passing the Master Plan.
In the end, the board passed the plans with the condition of moving science classroom upgrades "above the line" to make certain Measure J funded them.
Vice President Weise told Patch that some items within the Master Plan, perhaps related to athletics, would have to be rearranged or taken out in order to push the science upgrades to be higher priority. Updated plans will be presented at a future board meeting.
The reason for approving the plan, despite the fact that it does not entirely reflect the board's priorities, such as science classrooms, was that in order to move forward with earlier steps of replacing old portables, Phases II and III need to first be passed, Weise said.
Before the board voted on the Master Plan, South San Francisco High Principal Tony Limoges spoke in support of moving forward with the plans and the importance of sports facilities at schools.
“'Athletic’ makes it sound like it’s just football and soccer,” Limoges said. He said that athletic fields also function as classrooms for physical education. He also said that sports teams are key players in combating youth violence and recidivism.
The board also approved contracts with several architects for Measure J construction projects.
Also at the meeting, district staff informed the board that they did not recommend submitting an application for the federal grant program Race to the Top.
Trustee Shirlee Hoch attended the meeting, after very sparse appearances over the last year due to illness. Hoch excused herself near the end of the meeting just before the Measure J Master Plan vote, stating that she was in “excruciating pain.”
Please see the attached document, or download additional documents here for more details on Measure J plans.