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Sweetwater district soon to receive largest LEED-certified facelift

With close to $3.2 billion in school projects coming up for bid in the near future thanks to the seven school bond propositions passed Nov. 4, there will be numerous job opportunities for contractors and designers in the weeks and months ahead.

Now, thanks to a previous bond measure passed in November 2006, more projects are slated to go up for bid and construction is ready to get under way.

South Bay voters passed Proposition O, a $644 million school bond that will aid in the repair and construction of new infrastructure for the Sweetwater Union High School District.

All the campuses in the district will receive some sort of upgrade and the timing of each improvement, which will be divided into three phases, will be based on need and age of each school.

The first wave of construction will happen at Chula Vista High, Chula Vista Middle, Hilltop High, Mar Vista High, Montgomery High, National City Middle, Southwest High, Southwest Middle and Sweetwater High School.

"These schools were chosen first because they are the oldest ones in the district and have the greatest need for repairs and new facilities," said Jaime Ortiz, program and construction manager for Proposition O projects.

Most of the construction in these nine schools will revolve around adding new classroom buildings, renovating current classrooms, expanding libraries, improving physical education rooms and athletic courts, improving fencing for security, fixing irrigation systems, improving restrooms and electrical systems to meet current and future demands.

In addition, certain schools will receive additional improvements.

Students and faculty at Chula Vista Middle will be receiving a new two-story science lab and technology lab with renovations scheduled for the music and drama auditorium.

A new multi-purpose gymnasium, science lab, two-story classroom building with administrative offices and expanded stadium seating will be part of the construction process at Hilltop High.

Mar Vista will receive $10.4 million for construction that will include a new ASB building, learning center, science building with a computer lab and reconstruction of the cafeteria.

At Southwest High, a new two-story classroom building will be built, a media center and multi-use gym, along with upgrades to classrooms, boys and girls locker rooms and the library will be included in this school's $24.4 million project.

Chula Vista High is slated to build a new library and multi-purpose theatre and repair the school's stadium, expand the parking lot and add a small gymnasium in a construction project that will total $28.2 million.

Sweetwater High will receive the largest facelift, as demolition will occur on the current administration building and a new three-story facility will be built that will house 35 classrooms, administration offices, a counseling center, health center and library. In addition, renovations will be done to the current stadium, and land will be acquired to add these new amenities and to expand parking.

Sweetwater Union schools have roughly 42,000 middle- and high-school students in 24 schools and 32,000 adult school students.

What is unique about this proposition is that it will allow for the largest LEED gold certified school project in California, according to Ortiz, to comply with the district's Board of Trustees goal for green building practices.

"By designing LEED gold, each school will reduce water usage by 40 percent, reduce energy consumption by 25 percent and 50 percent of construction waste will be recycled," he explained. "In addition, 10 percent of the materials we are using are from recycled products."

Ortiz also mentioned that the schools have designed preferred parking spaces for those who drive hybrid cars.

In 2007, the Sweetwater Union High School District Board of Trustees selected Gilbane/SGI Construction Management as Proposition O management team to head construction for all projects.

The district has hired two architectural firms, BCA Architects andLPA Architects, and they have spent all of 2008 designing for the first round of Proposition O projects.

So far Sundt and Turner Construction have been hired to be the general contractors and Chula Vista and Sweetwater High respectfully, and Ortiz said contractors will be hired for the other seven schools in the first phase of Proposition 0 construction as projects come up for bid shortly.

Construction for the first phase is slated to begin at the start of 2009 and all construction is scheduled for completion at the end of 2011.

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