Santa Ynez Valley Union High School will reopen on schedule for the 2018-19 school year despite the heavy level of reconstruction work that has been going on all summer, school officials said.

Classes are set to resume Aug. 9, although reroofing and work on the electrical and heating, ventilation and air-conditioning systems that has been underway all summer is expected to continue into the school year.

In addition to those projects, crews have also replaced sewer and water lines that were leaking and damaged, installed new energy-efficient windows, revamped electrical systems and upgraded the fire alarm system.

In fact, the amount and type of work that’s been underway prompted the SYVUHS District to close the campus, which usually is available for community use during the summer recess, not only for safety reasons but to keep the work flowing along smoothly.

District Superintendent Scott Cory expressed “special thanks to the community groups that use our facilities during the summer for their patience and understanding.”

Those organizations will need more of that, because if they hoped community use would resume as usual next year, that’s not likely, Cory said.

Even more extensive work is planned for the 2019 summer recess, so the campus will have to be closed to the public again.

“Summer 2020 is shaping up to be a summer of construction as well,” Cory added.

The reconstruction and renovation work mapped out by the high school district got the green light when voters approved Measure K by a narrow margin in the November 2016 election.

Measure K authorized the district to issue up to $14.7 million in bonds in two releases to repair and replace outdated systems and crumbling infrastructure at the high school.

At least 55 percent of the ballots cast had to be in favor for the measure to pass, and when the results were certified a month after the election, Measure K had garnered 57.3 percent of the vote.

“Sincere thanks to the voters for making this happen,” Cory said last week. “We are engaged in a good work that will benefit both current students and the next generation of students, along with the many community members that utilize our facilities.”

The board of education also committed $500,000 in district reserve funds to the project, and district officials have been working to obtain $7 million or more in state grants to pay for improvements that are necessary but were not included in the “critical needs” list to be funded by the bonds.

“We continue to work on the pursuit of available matching state funds in order to … ensure that all Measure K projects are completed, along with additional campus improvements,” Cory said.

The “critical list” of projects included repairing crumbling asphalt and concrete, removing and replacing beams and floor joists severely damaged by termites and dry rot and installing energy-conserving windows.

Other items on the list included old water pipes that had cracked and were leaking “thousands of gallons” as well as water-wasting bathroom fixtures along with heating and cooling units that were falling apart and “wasting thousands of dollars” in repairs.

Oil-bath electrical switches from the 1940s and obsolete fire alarm and communications equipment are being replaced with modern, high-tech systems.

Both the boys and girls locker rooms that were built in the 1960s are targeted for renovation.

A citizen oversight committee is monitoring how the bond revenue is being used to be sure it's spent as promised in Measure K.

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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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