The Facilities unit at the San Diego County Office of
Education (SDCOE) helped the Sweetwater Union High School District save enough
money on its project to modernize Montgomery High School to be able to add administrative
offices and additional classrooms.
The K-12 Public School Districts and Community Colleges
Facility Joint Powers Authority led by the San Diego County
Superintendent of Schools worked with the district and contractors to save
enough money on the $23-million project to add additional classrooms and
administrative offices to the project, which originally only called for a
gymnasium and 10 classrooms.
The district asked personnel with SDCOE’s Educational
Facilities Solutions Group for help overseeing the project in 2012.
“It has been a great experience and saved us a significant
amount of money,” said Manuel Rubio, director of grants and communications for
the district. “Ultimately, it’s about saving taxpayer dollars.”
By working through the joint powers authority, the district
was able to hire a contractor using a design-build model that allows for more stakeholder
participation in the process. Stakeholders
included school and district personnel, community members, SDCOE staff and the
design-build contractor that included architect and engineers as well as
“It’s almost as if the owner, builder and designer are all
on the same team,” said Scott Thomas, who helped design the work for Zagrodnik
+ Thomas Architects. “That’s a big
The final project included a two-story gymnasium, additional
classrooms, new administrative offices, a renovated lunch court, landscaping, a
protected school entrance, and added security cameras throughout the
campus. Construction started 12 months
ago. The project was completed on July 23, when students returned to school,
including all furniture purchase, delivery, unpacking and assembly.
The money saved through the process not only allowed the
district to build more, but also allowed for state-of-the-art facilities and
equipment. By adding classrooms, officials were able to remove reloadable
buildings from the campus and open up a central quad area, Rubio said.
“It just opens up the campus,” he said. “It has an open,
student-friendly kind of feel.”
SDCOE’s Educational Facility Solutions Group provides full
project-planning and construction-delivery services and also works with
districts throughout the county to help them get state funding for
modernization and construction projects.