The Morgan Hill Unified School District Board of Education has yet to vote on a proposal to use voter-approved Measure G bond funds to convert the vacant Burnett Elementary School into the new home for Central High Continuation School in time for the start of the 2013-14 school year.
However, preliminary plans for a phase one modernization of the former elementary school, which is located at 85 Tilton Avenue and was closed in June of 2009 in a cost-cutting move by the district, are already in the works. San Jose-based McKim Design Group is leading that charge.
“We realize that the board hasn’t fully vetted this yet and decided that this is going to happen,” said MHUSD Superintendent Wes Smith Tuesday. “For us, we have to do a bunch of work. We’re going to do that work hoping that it goes that way. But if not, it’s still work that needed to be done for when we do something (at Burnett). So it won’t be wasted effort.”
The MHUSD Board of Education is expected to vote on the proposed Burnett School conversion plan at their next public meeting, which is scheduled for 6 p.m. March 12.
“The proposal to move our Central Continuation program to the Burnett site would enable us to expand one of the most successful programs in the state of California and offer our community a variety of services we currently do not offer,” Smith explained. “It would give us the opportunity to serve more students than we can accommodate at the current Central facility.”
Smith did caution that the expansion of Central’s student body may take away from the “small school feel” that students there have grown accustomed to and flourished in. The continuation high school opened in 1968 at its present-day location at 17960 Monterey Road. Enrollment this year is approximately 140 students.
High school students who are deficient in credits for graduation are qualified to attend Central, but must get a recommendation from a district student study team, which is comprised of comprehensive high school personnel and Central staff members.
“Although the entire modernization would occur in multiple phases, the (Burnett) site would be ready to open to students in fall 2013,” explained Smith of the empty campus, the closure of which saved the district $400,000 annually.
The phase one proposal presented to the Board of Education consists of technology upgrades and complete renovations to the current classrooms; roofing repairs on the buildings; installation of a fire-alarm; clocks; PA and class bell systems; as well as flooring and cabinetry work in the kitchen.
“We understand this is a tight time frame, but we didn’t want to jump in to do anything without taking a bigger look at the campus,” said McKim, whose firm has been working on the phase one proposal for nearly four weeks. “We don’t want to do anything now that we can’t use down the line because we’re in a hurry.”
At Burnett there are four classroom pods, an administration building, a multipurpose building, a few portables and a warehouse. There 20 classrooms total, which will be completely refurnished with new windows, finishes, cabinetry, walls and lighting.
“When we get done with phase one, you will have all of the classroom buildings ready to go, all as standard classrooms,” said McKim of the plan that also calls for the remodeling of the restrooms and the school parking lot in addition to the removal of the existing covered walkways, which are viewed as too low for high school-aged students.
Two of the four pods will be designated for primary high school classrooms, one for a cyber high school program and the last for computer and science labs as well as an art room.
If the proposal is approved by the school board, the Burnett conversion would be the first use of the Measure G bond dollars. The district would first have to procure bids for all the renovation work that needs to be done.
Measure G is the $198 million bond voters approved in November 2012 with a 64 percent vote. The money will be used for capital improvements and is controlled by the school district and not the state or federal government.