A smoking electrical receptacle at Santa Ynez Valley Union High School in recent weeks alerted officials to a failure in the aging fire alarm system, making it even more imperative that it be replaced soon, school board members were told in an update on the facility improvement program.

SYVUHS District Superintendent Scott Cory outlined several infrastructure failures that pushed systems to the forefront of the project schedule in a report delivered during a special meeting Thursday.

The report also included reviews of the second first phase change order, a modernization proposal from the project architect and the current implementation schedule for the work.

“The receptacle was smoking, the fire alarm went off for about 60 seconds, then shut down, and it didn’t call the Fire Department,” Cory said, noting the building was evacuated without incident.

An alarm company was called in and worked with the district staff to track down the problem and get the system functioning again.

But it marked the second time in recent weeks that a system failure triggered the alarm.

Cory said a water main ruptured during a football game at the Santa Ynez campus a couple of weeks ago, setting off the alarm when the water pressure dropped to a certain point.

Replacing the badly outdated fire alarm system always was a priority in the campuswide renovation and improvement project that began after voters approved Measure K in the November 2016 election, authorizing the district to issue up to $14.7 million in bonds.

But the recent failure underscored the need to replace the system soon.

Because the fire alarm must be functional any time students are on campus, the replacement work won’t take place until next summer, with the cost estimated at a little over $1.2 million, Cory said.

The existing alarm system is tied in with the school’s communication system, but construction manager Jay Sullivan said that’s no longer allowed under current law, so separate parallel systems will be installed.

A Measure K funding analysis estimates the cost of the new communication and public address system at $136,500.

Cory said failing gas lines that were red-tagged during the summer are also among the priorities for replacement.

Play ball

Improvements to the baseball field, which are not being funded by Measure K bonds, are scheduled to begin before the end of November, resulting in new bleachers and fresh concrete with access meeting the Americans with Disabilities Act requirements.

“We’ll start work in two weeks and it should be done by the time the first pitch is thrown out in February,” Cory said.

Improvements to the Administration Building are nearing completion after additional work was identified that led to the second change order in the contract.

A total of 35 windows — more than anticipated — were replaced, including arched windows along the guidance offices that actually provide structural support, said Alan Kroeker, principal with PMSM Architects.

Cory said the new windows, particularly those along the west wall of the Administration Building, have made a significant difference in heat transference.

“It was a 100-degree day outside, but the inside of the windows was cool,” he said. “The outside was too hot to touch.”

A leaking copper bay window roof had to be replaced with an aluminum roof, and the arched windows in the district board room were weatherized, Kroeker said.

The entire exterior of the building, rather than just the west wall, will be painted in about two weeks, giving it a clean, cohesive look. But the additional painting is being paid for with general fund money, rather than Measure K money.

Initially, the contract with A.J. Diani Construction was $622,900, but Kroeker said creative value engineering suggested by the contractor reduced the cost to $602,274. The additional work on the Administration Building added another $152,951 to the contract, bringing the total up to $755,225.

Modernizing campus

Board members got a look at PMSM’s proposed modernization plans that include making “The Pit” courtyard area a more inviting and usable space with a free-form shade structure over tables and a surface that includes pavers.

“There will be significant concrete removal between The Pit and C Building, so how do we rebuild?” Cory said of the proposed improvements.

District administrators and the architect are working with teachers to come up with a design for renovating the Little Theatre, which will include installing a new stage, stage rigging, lighting and acoustics systems and facilities to comply with ADA requirements.

Cory noted more work is planned than what’s allowed for in Measure K funding, but the additional work will be covered by money from Proposition 51. He added that all ADA compliance work will be funded by Measure K money.

PMSM’s proposal for renovating the cafeteria includes removing a stage, installing a large window, reconfiguring the food line and building a 900-square-foot addition, which will create space for indoor seating that doesn’t currently exist.

Up to 100 seats could be created, including booths and tables in the “café area,” Kroeker said.

Cory said about $900,000 is available from developer fees for the cafeteria improvements, and another funding source could be state Career Technical Education funds.

The last project reviewed will be a complete reconstruction of the boys and girls locker rooms.

“Keep in mind, we’re throwing a hand grenade in there,” Cory said of the 1940s-era facilities. “Nothing has happened in there (to improve them) literally in decades and decades.”

Kroeker added, “There’s nothing in there worth saving.”

Because the work will take more than the summer vacation time, work will encroach on both the beginning and end of the school year, Cory said, but the district will bring in portable showers, restrooms and locker rooms while the work is underway.

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Mike Hodgson is news editor at the Santa Ynez Valley News, where he writes about local government, special events and the people who live in the Valley. He has been a photographer, writer, news editor and managing editor at weekly newspapers since 1972

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