As students return to school in the Lemon Grove and Mountain
Empire Unified school districts, they have some exciting new features on campus
that were built as part of an innovative contract the San Diego County Office
of Education (SDCOE) facilities team helped create.
SDCOE’s Educational Facility Solutions Group helped the two
school districts save time on a variety of construction projects by combining them
into a larger design-build contract.
The new approach of combining smaller projects will help the
SDCOE’s facilities team bring bigger contractors and more competition to small
school districts, said Joanne Branch, school facility planning coordinator with
“Given the size of our district, it is a luxury to have
access to the SDCOE’s Facilities Joint Powers Authority (JPA) as an incredible resource for school
construction procurement, project management, school construction finance
software, design build methods, and most importantly, a guaranteed maximum
price so we have the peace of mind that our construction projects will be
completed within budget,” said Gina Potter, deputy superintendent for the Lemon
Grove School District.
The contract for the two school districts includes more than
$9 million in projects, including new physical education facilities,
modernization of the district’s central kitchen, and new wireless
infrastructure at schools in Lemon Grove as well as new roofs and playground paving
for schools in the Mountain Empire district.
One of the projects that finished recently was to rebuild
the physical education area at the Lemon Grove Academy Middle School campus. This
included adding a track, redoing the entrance, laying new asphalt, and
replacing some of the areas for specific sports.
“Our new PE classroom is second to none,” said Kevin Keefe,
a physical education teacher at the school. “I just walked out to the blacktop
to take it all in, and I got goose bumps.”
Mount Vernon Elementary School in Lemon Grove added three
portable classrooms and a restroom for students in grades 7 and 8 as part of
In the Mountain Empire district students started the year at
Descanso, Clover Flat, and Campo elementary schools with completely new asphalt
on their playgrounds. At Mountain Empire High School, students are returning to
a new girls softball field, which was also part of the work in the
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.
“By partnering with another school district and bundling a
number of smaller construction projects, the Facilities JPA provided our
district with access to a design-build model, which allowed for high-quality
construction by school-construction experts,”
Photo: Lemon Grove Academy Middle School's new athletic area