Dublin Unified School District's planned second comprehensive high school received a $115 million boost for building costs when the Board of Trustees approved a budget increase for the much-anticipated project last Tuesday.
All five school board members voted at their Aug. 24 regular meeting to increase Measure H funding for constructing the planned Emerald High School by $11,250,460, for a total of $170,050,460. Part of a facilities master plan process, the board also increased developer fees funding by $6.8 million, for a total of about $15 million, and added Measure J funding for $97,104,540 total.
DUSD spokesman Chip Dehnert told the Weekly that the board's motion also increased the total funding for the first phase of building Emerald High by more than $115 million, for a total budget of $282,171,000.
Emerald High is being built on an almost 24-acre site to the north of the intersection at Dublin Boulevard and Grafton Street, and is expected to help ease overcrowding at Dublin High School while also serving students and families on the rapidly growing east end of Dublin.
The Measure H marquee project -- which was also declared the district's top priority project during a facilities master plan update that evening -- broke ground on the first phase of construction last fall. When Phase 1 is finished, the campus will accommodate approximately 1,300 students, with the school coming to its full 2,500-student capacity after Phase 2 is completed in the following years.
"We will be going out to bid on Phase 1 increments 2 and 3 this fall," Dehnert said, adding "construction on those elements of the project should begin in December," with construction completed by December 2023.
The final scope of Phase 2 will be determined in November, with design work starting the next month and construction starting in June 2023, and the entire project ending by June 2025.
Two academic towers, a library, theater, gym, student union, administrative and maintenance buildings, visual and performing arts classrooms, as well as athletic facilities including a football field with stadium bleachers, concession stands and a pressbox are planned for the school, which students could start attending as soon as fall 2022.
In a related but separate motion that evening, the Board voted down, 3-2, a proposal to reduce funds from Measure J by more than $66 million and replace them with Prop 51 funds. Board President Dan Cherrier and Trustee Gabi Blackman voted "yes" while the other board members rejected the proposal.
Before voting, Cherrier said he favored the funding model because "Measure J was primarily to complete the high school."
"I realize this is completing the high school, but most people had in mind that it would be Phase 2," Cherrier said, adding, "some of that Measure J funding, if we really try to accelerate Phase 2, may not be available."
Board Vice President Megan Rouse disagreed and said "giving up the flexibility is absolutely silly."
"I think to use our flexible money now and have fewer options for choice later would be a big detriment," Rouse said. "If we end up not building a middle school or K-8, we may need some of that Prop 51 money to build that school."
In other business
** On Tuesday, the board unanimously extended the salary portion of a tentative agreement with the Dublin Teachers Association to district leadership. The agreement with the district's certificated employees was finalized in mid-June.
"Typically, when we come to an agreement with the DTA, elements of that agreement are extended to members of our California School Employees Association (classified employees) and then to district leadership in 'Me-Too' agreements," Dehnert told the Weekly.
The board also extended a 2% salary increase to CSEA at the Aug. 10 board meeting. According to Dehnert, "Extending that agreement to district leadership was the final part of that process."
The salary increases for leadership employees will be applied retroactively to July 1.