The first Santa Ynez Valley Union High School rehabilitation project using Measure K funds is nearing completion, but anyone viewing the finished work from outside would be hard pressed to see the difference, and that's a good thing.

The administration building has been reroofed, but the original Spanish tiles — with their patina of moss, lichen and stains — were reused over the new roof.

“The tiles don’t provide weather protection,” pointed out district Superintendent Scott Cory. “The roof underneath does that. The tiles are just decorative. The contractor said people down in Montecito pay big bucks for used tiles like that.”

Cory said replacing the roof and renovating the interior of the administration building, which also houses counseling offices, rose to the top of the project list because it had the worst roof on campus and because it represented a significant health hazard.

“(The) ceiling and walls were damaged by rain over the past few years,” he said. “The big rains last winter soaked everything down to the carpet to the point where we needed to conduct mold testing via destruction of a significant portion of the main interior wall.”

He said the entire office staff was moved out and won’t be moved back in until all the construction work — including replastering, repainting and recarpeting — is done.

Some work still remains, including the final window replacement scheduled for this fall, and when it’s completed, the district will have spent about $622,900 of the $14.7 million in bonds authorized by voters last November.

However, this first Measure K project is coming in not only ahead of schedule but also under budget, Cory said.

In fact, you might call the project a real “honey of a deal.”

A K-job and the bees

Before crews from A.J. Diani Construction Co. began working on the building, it was tented and fumigated to get rid of termites.

“We expected to tear off the roof and find rotting trusses and termite-infested beams,” Cory said. “But we were surprised that wasn’t the case.”

Instead, the surprise was the 3-foot by 8-foot bee hive packed inside the roof — along with a lot of dead bees.

“The bee guy we had out here said he had not seen anything that big in a long time,” Cory said.

But that wasn’t the end of the bee problem.

“Apparently, word got out in the bee community that there was all this free honey for the taking, because there were a lot of bees that kept showing up to get it,” he added.

Once the administration building upgrade is completed, the next projects won’t get underway until next summer, although some minor preparation work will likely be done during the school year.

“The nature of a lot of our work is invasive enough we can’t hold school at the same time,” Cory said. “That’s why summers are so important.

“There is some stuff on the periphery we can do,” he continued. “We’re getting some things ready so when the first day of summer comes, we’re ready to go.”

The district staff plans to present a prioritized list of projects to the school board for approval in October.

“Our goal is to start at the center of campus and work our way out,” Cory said. “We have three summers worth of work coming.”

Eligible for a match

Design and engineering is also underway on projects not on the Measure K list that officials hope will be covered by matching funds from the statewide Proposition 51.

Also approved by voters last November, Prop. 51 made a total of $9 billion available to schools serving students from kindergarten through community college.

“We think we have at least $7 million in projects eligible for Prop. 51 funds,” Cory said.

The district has three major goals in the campus renovation. The first is to complete all the major projects on the Measure K list that was presented to voters prior to last year’s election.

The second is to complete all the other ancillary projects that are not on the Measure K list for “a total facility improvement.”

The third is to be able to sustain all those improvements well into the future.

“Shame on us if we bring all the facilities up to speed, then not have the funds to replace them when they reach the end of their useful life,” Cory said. “If we can bring in all the Prop. 51 funds we think we’re eligible for, we should be able to do that.”

Getting into the swim

The school district is also working closely with the Santa Ynez Valley Community Aquatics Foundation on replacing the high school’s aging swimming pool with a full-sized Olympic pool plus a warm-up pool the organization purchased from the U.S. Olympic Committee.

Previously one pool, the prefabricated facility built by Myrtha Pools will be split into two pools and become the cornerstone of a new aquatic, wellness and sports medicine complex on the campus.

The Olympic-size pool will allow the school to host not only CIF competition but also professional swim meets, while the smaller warm-up pool will be used for fitness, wellness and therapeutic programs along with recreational swimming.

A joint-use agreement will allow concurrent community and school use of the facilities to maximize the pools’ benefit for everyone, Cory said.

The pool project is not part of the Measure K work and will be privately funded by the nonprofit foundation through donations.

The organization is deep in its fundraising campaign to pay for architectural and engineering plans, which will have to be approved by the state.

Anyone who wants to donate to the project can do so by visiting

“If all of these things come together like we hope they will, not only will the kids benefit but the community will, too,” Cory said. “It will bring about a level of programs never before seen in the Valley.

“Never before has there been this opportunity to improve our campus that, frankly, won’t come again for a long time,” he said. “So we’re taking it very seriously and working very hard to do the best for our students and the best for the community.”


News Editor

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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