Bond oversight committee begins |

Bond oversight committee begins

The Citizens Bond Oversight Committee met for the first time Wednesday to discuss the spending of Measure G funds.

About 58.4 percent of voters approved the bond in November, four months after the district’s prior bond failed in June. The bond needed a 55 percent majority to pass.

The nine-member committee was mandated as part of the passage of the $64.5 million bond, said Jim Tarwater, Lake Tahoe Unified School District superintendent.

“This road is an adventure we’ve been dreaming about for a long time, and part of that is a building community confidence,” Tarwater said. “(The committee is) the key for that.”

Because the bidding environment is very competitive, committee member Paul Bruso said he wants to see the bond funds “get a lot of bang for their buck.”

The district already revised its construction timeline by combining the Career Technical Education building and the portable-replacement projects, said Steve Morales, LTUSD facilities manager. The original plan was to only construct the CTE building, and then build the other project at a later date. Both projects will break ground at South Tahoe High School on May 1, he added.

The entire project construction timeline has been revised as well, Morales said. Originally all projects were to be finished by 2014, but because prices are so low, he said they’d like to finish everything by 2012. This will save costs so more projects further down the priority list can be completed.

As long as the frozen $15.4 million in state matching funds start flowing, this will be a realistic timeline, Morales said.

Last year the district received grants from the state to build the CTE building, the portable replacement building and the Arts and Media Academy. Because of the budget crisis, the state froze the funds that are currently owed to the district.

“This is going to accelerate very quickly with a lot of work coming out of the ground in a short period of time,” Morales said.

When the district updated its master plan last year, it identified $120 million worth of potential facility improvements. The Measure G proposal was developed from that master plan total. If the current projects come in under bid, additional facility projects could be funded.

“It’s interesting we’re even talking about cost savings in these economic times, and it’s a good problem to have,” committee member Austin Sass said.

Committee member Mike Berg said he wants to make sure as many skilled local craftsman have the opportunity work on the bond projects. He also would like to see some sort of apprenticeship program in place, so students in the community could learn a trade while working on the school projects.

The general contractor for the first CTE and portable-replacement building projects, Joe Stewart of SMC Contracting, said he’s conducted informational forums for resident contractors so they can learn what the requirements are for public school projects.

Stewart and his crew are South Lake Tahoe residents. Most South Shore contractors have the skills, but are unfamiliar with the process, he said.

Stewart said he’s been meeting with contractors in his office, on the street, in the store and at his house: “It has been a real merger of my work and personal life,” Stewart said.

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