Devil in Details but Rancho Cordova to Have Next New SchoolOct 19, 2023 10:13AM ● By Sharon Pearce
FOLSOM-RANCHO CORDOVA, CA (MPG) – The next school to be constructed in the Folsom-Rancho-Cordova Unified School District will be in Rancho Cordova the School Board decided at Monday’s Second Special Session on Facilities.
Board members faced entangled possibilities to do with multiple bond issues, historical school needs and conflicting tax bases to sort what school facilities construction could be prioritized. It ended reducing the many to the few. The next school to be built will be in Rancho Cordova, and it and the next one in Folsom will follow the Nathan-Morrison plan, which is a “traditional looking school” on a standard campus, an old-fashioned school.
Before calling for more research and reworking of designs for the third special session in December-January, the Board listened to extensive mix and match possibilities for satisfying needs for K8, Middle School and High School with some innovative variations for both districts. A big influence was that Rancho Cordova “is in the black,” and has $750 million to bring to the table for school needs, while Folsom does not have money available. It weighed what the tax bases would allow in both cities in the near term coupled with what it may have with projected home developments between the two cities in the future if construction is put off.
Sean Martin, Assistant Superintendent of Business Services, provided slides of graphs and bullet points to reveal potential constructs.
But the details became simplified in Public Comments. The entire Rancho Cordova City Council came out for the meeting. Vice-Mayor Daivd Sander spoke succinctly. “The next high school to be built should be in Rancho Cordova. Once it was the boom town, and it financed Folsom to develop. Eventually, Folsom was made whole, but Rancho-Cordova’s growth area was removed and Folsom ‘stole Rancho-Cordova’s future in the 1970s-80s.’” He spoke of many losses from his city to Folsom and of two-track facility standards; they being low for Rancho Cordova, high in Folsom. “We have a 67 year-old elementary school. Don’t add another line to my list.”
It was also stated that hundreds of Rancho-Cordova students claim to live elsewhere to go to school elsewhere. It was also emphasized that a priority that the next middle school / high school be in Rio Del Oro and by 2026, not 2034.
The average number of students in Rancho-Cordova schools is 400; in Folsom about 540. The target number for the District high schools was given at 1800-2000.
There was much discussion on whether to, and which, current schools might be modernized, or consolidated. Modernization was far and away the popular choice, with the two high school Board members also concurring. Demolition of schools was not popular. Matthew Mellijor commented “consolidation to a larger community goes against the idea of smaller schools and asked “Are we focusing on aesthetics or practicality?”
Funding was weighed under Prop 39 rules. Multiple bonds were discussed as to one for elementary schools and one for high school, or instead, one for safety issues and one for infrastructure. The Board was told that “the scope sizes the bond.” If you do a bond for two schools, there is a danger to incentivize pain of ongoing bond taxes for taxpayers. There was discussion of doing a bond where everyone gets something out of it by staggering schools and bonds. Phasing of a bond can be done, they were told, but the Board would incur extra repetitious start up costs. No preferences on bonds were reached at this meeting.
Board President David Reid summed up his sentiment and conclusions for the session, saying he was 100% for bonds for 2024, being open to Prop 39 or 46 “We heard citizens do not want consolidation but modernization… but modernization includes demolition; at least one or more buildings at each site will include that. The Board decided 10-12 years ago for single building construction for safety; but if modernization is used, it will not be single building construction for Rancho-Cordova.”
Martin and his consulting team were directed to perform more research and develop plans under simpler constructs.