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NU shows off fruits of bond

New boilers to heat the oldest parts of Nevada Union High School.

Remodeled offices for the assistant principals and counselors. New wheelchair ramps leading to the student parking lot.

Some of the changes afforded by the passage of Measure A, the $15 million bond issue approved by voters nearly two years ago, aren’t exactly sexy, but they’re necessary components to help modernize a nearly 45-year-old campus.



Members of the Measure A Bond Oversight Committee met Wednesday to check out how taxpayer money is being spent during the first phase of construction at Nevada Union.

Paul Palmer, the man in charge of hiring contractors and overseeing construction for the Nevada Joint Union High School District, led a campus tour outlining how and where the money will be spent over the next few years.




Palmer first took the five members into a cramped room that housed two new boilers capable of heating the five oldest wings of campus. Those wings date back to 1960.

While boilers might not impress boosters, they will keep students warm through the winter.

They also will eventually save the district $80,000 a year in energy costs when combined with other measures such as turning off lights and a more judicious use of air conditioners, said Julie Hopkins, assistant superintendent for business services.

“We’re just trying to do things you would do at home. We have faith that our staff will do this, and it’s an easy place to cut spending.”

The bond is also paying for a new girls locker room, which should be completed by February, Palmer said. A wheelchair-accessible lift is also being built for the second floor of the facility.

The district has hired BRCO Constructors of Loomis to handle the construction during the first phase, which covers $2 million.

The bond will also pay for $7 million in improvements at Bear River High School and $1 million at Sierra Foothill High School.

The money from the bond is being augmented by more than $6 million in matching state funds, bringing the bond’s total to more than $21 million for improvements at Nevada Union, Bear River and the Park Avenue Alternative campus.

Committee member Bill Locker agreed that some of the improvements may seem trivial to the general public, like the boilers.

“All of the changes are not your ‘glory’ changes,” he admitted, adding that the district needs to think of students as customers who will benefit.

The money for these physical improvements is separate from some of the financial troubles the high school district has faced recently, though not everyone understands the difference, said committee member Mike Bratton.

“A lot of people ask, ‘Why are we spending money on locker rooms when we need teachers?’ That seems to be the perception out there.”

By law, bond money cannot be used for instructional costs or additional staffing.

The district plans to use the money next on adding an aquatics center and performing arts hall at Bear River, followed by improvements to Sierra Foothill High School, on the Park Avenue campus. The last chunk of money is due to be spent in August 2006.


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