Initial plans for a major overhaul to Jordan High School, an undertaking estimated to cost $135.6 million for construction expected to start early next year, were revealed at the high school’s auditorium at a public meeting on Feb. 28.
The project to renovate and rebuild portions of the existing 26.9-acre campus is being completed in multiple phases over the next several years and is considered the “single largest” public-school construction project being funded through Measure K, a $1.2 billion bond measure passed by Long Beach voters in 2008.
After the bond measure passed five years ago, the Long Beach Unified School District (LBUSD) and community members developed a School Facility Master Plan and it A rendering of the proposed renovations to Jordan High Schoolwas determined that renovations to Jordan High School were a top priority.
According to materials from the presentation on the project, the current school site has “undersized classrooms, the lack of a Small Learning Community (SLC) identity, inadequate spaces for career technical-education labs, insufficient parking, poor vehicular access and poor pedestrian circulation.”
The school, which has an enrollment of 3,600 students, also has: seismically outdated buildings and aging infrastructure first constructed as far back as the 1930s; insufficient land for physical education and athletic programs; the lack of a central gathering area; the lack of a campus entrance identification; the need for upgraded security; and the need to invoke student pride and campus identity.”
Vivien Hao, project community coordinator for the Long Beach Unified School District (LBUSD), told the Signal Tribune that when first proposed, the project was expected to cost $105 million for construction.
But, after renderings and cost estimates were analyzed, the construction cost amount was recently updated to an estimated $135.6 million. She said soft costs, such as environmental reviews and designs, are expected to cost an additional $50 million for a total project budget of $185 million.
School officials have so far developed plans primarily for Phase 1, which is to start construction in January 2014 and involves installing temporary classrooms on the southeast side of campus where practice fields are now located. The temporary classrooms will be needed so that students can remain onsite while construction takes place in various parts of the campus over the next several years.
Phase 2, starting in fall 2014, involves demolition of five existing buildings in the northern part of campus. A new cafeteria will be re-located there, along with four new academy buildings with lab spaces.
The timeline for Phases 3-6 has yet to be determined and is dependent on available funding.
These phases will include renovation of the media center, music building and gymnasium. New athletic playfields also are planned, as well as renovations to the auditorium, which school officials are hoping will be paid for by state funds for seismic retrofits, Hao said.
School officials indicate that the sale of bonds through Measure K, however, is contingent on future assessed value of property. Hao said Phases 2-6 are generally conceived but not designed yet, adding that the projects depend on if the school district can raise enough funds. “Measure K is funded by property taxes and because the tax had lower assessment values for a lot of properties in California including Long Beach, it’s unknown how much revenue we would be able to raise for those subsequent phases,” she said.
Hao added that it’s important to point out that the project will be highly complex because contractors will be building and renovating on campus while students are there, adding that the school district is working on a study to come up with mitigation to traffic impacts.
“We’re just asking for everyone’s patience and endurance during this time, because we know ultimately it will be worth it,” she said. “We’re doing everything we can to mitigate the inconvenience to make sure that we don’t disrupt the educational process… We’re going to be doing a traffic study to make sure that, during the construction, there’s not going to be major disruption of traffic along Atlantic or any of the side streets. We will be increasing the parking and tearing down some of the very old portable bungalows, and so ultimately we’ll have better access, better parking and more convenience in and out of the campus as well as improving the campus itself.”
Carri Matsumoto, executive director of Facilities, Planning and Development, said in a prepared statement that the new campus will result in a more efficient and practical instructional environment that will serve the school well for years to come.
“All the changes planned are aimed at assuring the safety of students and staff, while converting the facilities to meet 21st Century educational needs,” she said.