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FAQ's

Q. How many schools that are under construction were supposed to be finished by early August? Names
A. The following is information about work that the District construction work at its campuses that it anticipated having complete at the beginning of the 2015-2016 school year:

  • South San Francisco High School; the planned work on this campus will be complete at the start of the 2015-2016 school year except for two elevators which will need to pass inspection first. 
  • Junipero Serra Elementary School; the planned work on this campus will be complete during the month of August 2015. 
  • Parkway Middle School; the work on Phase 2 of the project was planned for completion by August 12, 2015.  However, owing to delays in the installation and inspection of the elevator in Building D on campus, that building will not be available for occupancy at the beginning of the school year.  At this time, we anticipate that the building will be available by September 30, 2015.  Building I is also under construction and is anticipated to be complete by September 30, 2015. We continue to anticipate that the final phase of construction on campus (Phase 3) will be complete by September 2016.  
  • Buri Buri Elementary School; the work on Phase 1 of the project was planned for completion by the beginning of the 2015-2016 school year.  However, owing to unanticipated delays, Building D and the Administrative Building on campus will not be  available for occupancy at the beginning of the school year.  At this time, we anticipate that these two buildings will be available in the month of September 2015.  We continue to anticipate that the final phase of construction in campus (Phase 2) will be complete by September 2016.  

Q. Why the delays? 
A. In any construction project, there is the potential for unforeseen circumstances that can impact timelines. In the case of South San Francisco High School and Parkway, the new elevators have to be fully operational and pass inspection, which could delay the use of classrooms.  At Buri Buri and Junipero Serra, there was a delay in receiving required roofing materials from a manufacturer which caused a delay in some classrooms being ready for use. 

Q. The district is suffering a bond deficit of roughly 11 million. Where will you find the money to complete the projects? 
A. The District does not have a “deficit” in bond funding.  All District bond funds are accounted for and all current projects have been accounted for and are fully funded. Owing to unanticipated increased costs for some components of the bond projects, the District has moved ten million dollars from its General Fund to Fund 40, Special Reserve Fund for Capital Outlay Projects, to provide additional funds needed to complete these listed projects.

Q. When are the projects expected to be fully complete?
A. Buri Buri is estimated to be done by next Spring/Summer. Parkway Heights is scheduled to be completed in the fall of 2016. The District also anticipates the small projects at Los Cerritos and Sunshine Gardens to be complete by the opening of school August 2016.
 
Q. What’s being done about the large mound of dirt at Buri Buri?
A. The backside of the dirt mound that faces El Campo has been covered last week. There is a part of that mound that is active and is used daily that cannot be covered but water trucks are constantly hosing down the dirt to mitigate potential dust. The contractor is also sending out a street sweeping truck around the neighborhood daily to clean up as much dirt as possible.  At the end of completion, all of the dirt will be used to level the ground out where the old school buildings were located.
 
Q. Will there be any compensation for residents affected by the dust from the Buri Buri dirt mound?
A. The District will be purchasing two car wash vouchers for residents adjacent to Buri Buri in the next few months as well when the project is completed, which is estimated to be next Spring/Summer.
 
Q. What is the total amount your district paid to USS Cal Builders based on lease-leaseback contracts?
A. The total amount of Measure J funds that will be disbursed at the end of our bond projects is approximately $162 million dollars. There still is approximately $20 million dollars left to pay out for work that is ongoing and is scheduled to be completed by fall of 2016.
 
Q. Why did you pursue lease-leasebacks instead of traditional contracts?
A. The District formed a committee which decided to make use of the lease-leaseback method of construction. In the past, the District has utilized both the traditional method of construction as well as the lease-leaseback method.
 
Q. Did anyone from your district speak with Assemblyman Mullin or his staff to advocate for AB 975, which would protect contractors from disgorgement if sued over alleged illegal lease-leaseback contracts?
A. At this time, staff is not aware of any discussions between the District and Assemblymen Mullin’s office to discuss AB 975.
 
Q. Do you support AB 975?
A. As a school district, it is not the place for the District to endorse any legislation that may arise from time to time. There are education representatives in Sacramento that work on behalf of all school districts in the state advocating in legislative matters.
 
Q. If the Legislature holds a hearing on this, would anyone from your district testify or provide correspondence in support of the bill?
A. The District has not been contacted one way or the other on AB 975. As noted above, the District has advocates in Sacramento that will speak on behalf of school districts in the state.
 
Q. Do you think the Supreme Court should hear the Fresno school district's appeal of the 5th District Appellate Court's decision ruling its lease-leaseback was illegal and finding that the contractor had a conflict of interest? Why or why not?
A. As a school District, staff closely monitors any and all pending legislation that could affect operations. District staff follows all enacted and codified laws and statutes until such a time as they are amended. The District will always follow what is handed down from the courts. As no District staff are attorneys, no opinion on the legality of Davis v Fresno will be proffered. However, the District legal counsel has reviewed the Davis v Fresno case and also looked at the current lease-leaseback contracts in place and are confident everything is in order as prescribed by existing law.
 
Q. What updates/communication from the District can the community expect in the near future?
A. The District is excited to have these projects come to completion for our students and the community. District staff will be holding community meetings in the next few months to update everyone on the current status of projects as well as completion dates.

Q. Does the District have a legal right to end the relationship with USS CAL, without ending up in a protracted legal battle or lawsuits?

A. Yes, the contract has a provision with a termination clause and spells out what those terms are.

 

Q. How long will it take to start back up on the outstanding projects?

A. At this point, a new timeline cannot be created until the projects have been bid out and the new contractors estimate a schedule, which will be shared with the public.

 

Q. How much more will it cost to startup with a new contractor?

A.At this point, a new cost estimate cannot be created until the projects have been bid out and the bids come in.

Q. Assuming it will cost substantially more, what options are there to increase the necessary funding?

A. All costs will be assessed once bids come in and a better picture of construction costs can be estimated.

 

Q. What priority will be assigned to the various projects, assuming the funding is not immediately available (which it never is)?

A. All projects will be assessed with what funding is available and a priority list will be created.

 

Q. What should residents to if they have a claim to file against USS Cal?

A. Please submit any and all construction related claims directly to USS Cal.

 

Q. Can you shed some light on the process by which local, county, state (other?) regulators approve these construction projects?

A. All construction plans created by an architect are approved through the Division of State Architects before any construction is started. Then, those plans are bid on by contractors who submit a price for their services. The local school board then approves the contracts with the contractor after they are reviewed by District counsel.

 

Q. What are the local, county, state (other?) standards and do they need to be improved?

A. Standards for school construction vary from location to location but all standards have to meet the minimum requirements set forth from DSA.

Q. What is the process for remediation if/when subpar work is approved?

A. There is a listing called punch lists, which are created by several entities, including the District, the contractor, and the architect of record after construction is substantially complete. What this list does is give all parties items that need to be resolved and/or improved upon.

 

Q. We have hear of concrete cracking, rust, sinks that are rusting, light switches too close to sinks, leaky roofs. etc.

A. The District is aware of many of these items and are working through them with the contractor and their sub-contractors. The contractor is ultimately legally responsible to remedy any and all defects.

 

Q. What is the process of oversight on school districts building new schools or new buildings?  

A. The District hires a bond management person to oversee construction, in our case, this was a bond director. They then hire construction managers who are assigned to various school sites to oversee field operations.

 

Q. How can poor quality and poor workmanship pass inspections?  

A. Many defects do not show up until weeks, months and years later. During construction, there are construction managers who work with the contractor to remedy any known issues.

 

Q. When will the Buri Buri Dirt Pile be removed?

A. Once the demolition of the old school has been completed, much of the dirt will be used to grade the site.

 

Q. When will the rubble and steel will be removed from the demolition of the old buildings?

A.District staff are working on small chucks of each project, including the demo work. Once someone has been contracted to remove the old buildings, the process should move quickly.

 

Q. Do bond directors or construction managers have to have an architect’s license?

A. No. The district hires specific architects for each project.

  

Q. What is a prequalification process?

A. The Prequalification process is where a contractor has to meet certain standards in order to be able to bid on a construction project. It includes but is not limited to the following:

1. Experience

2. Past performance

3. Financial capability

4. Reliability and responsibility

5. Safety record

Once a contractor has met the minimum qualifications, they then are able to bid on construction projects. The listing is good for maximum of a year.

 

Q. What about the construction budget for Bur Buri?

A. District staff are currently assessing all budgets for all remaining work. Once a determination has been made, budget information will be presented to all stakeholders.

 

Q. Is USS Cal going to take care of punch list items?

A.USS Cal is obligated to take care of punch list items and has been doing so.

 

Q. Did the district hire a mediator before removing USS Cal?

A. The District has been working with USS Cal for over a year on many issues to try to get them resolved.

 

Q. What about the gas valves? Will they be getting cages to protect them?

A. Gas valves will be getting cages at some point. The cages were not on the original plans and will be an additional cost.

 

Q. What will be done about the fire hydrant on the playground where students can run into it?

A.DSA does not have control over fire hydrant placement. This is a local fire department purview. The fire department requires fire hydrants to be within a certain footage of structures. The architects placed this hydrant there to be in compliance.

 

Q. There is a temporary patch of asphalt on Del Monte put down by the contractor. Will this be repaired correctly?

A.USS Cal has been notified to take care of any outstanding items.

 

Q. Gutters on the side of buildings leak. What will be done to remedy this situation?

A.USS Cal has been notified to take care of any outstanding items.

 

Q. Will there be bells in the new buildings?

A. The District is actively assessing all school sites to ensure they get what is needed, including external speakers, which can project the bells.

 

Q. What's going to happen with the remaining part of the work that needs to happen at Buri Buri?

A.As the process moves forward, another firm/firms will pick up the remaining construction scope to complete the work. This process will take some time and cannot happen in a few days or weeks.

 

Q. What does that mean for all the code violations at Buri Buri- who will did those now?

A. All code violations have been resolve3d. The District is committed to resolving any issues that arise during construction.

 

Q. Before the decision was made to fire the construction company on 1/21, were the Principals, Teachers, Parents solicited for feedback?  Were the school communities given the opportunity to weigh in on this drastic decision?  Who was consulted?

A. Board members attended weekly bond meetings and participated in conversations about the work, the delayed timelines, and the quality of work. Additionally, a couple Board members did walk the site to see the conditions, firsthand and heard from various community members regarding the progress of the site. Two community meetings were held at Buri Buri and Board members and staff was present and heard additional concerns about the project.

 

Q. How often did the School Board and Members of the administration come to the campus to view the conditions our students are working in?  Have you seen it on both sunny and rainy days?  Were these conditions considered when firing the Construction Company?

A. Staff did visit the campus many times to examine the conditions of the school on both sunny days and rainy days but not specifically at lunch time. People who visited included members of Board, the administration as well as the District construction manager.  All aspects of construction were taken into consideration as well as the overall impact to students and staff before any decision was made. Community meetings were held and discussion took place regarding the concerns before the decision was made at the Board meeting on January 21st. The decision to move in this direction was not taken lightly by the Board.

 

Q. Is there an opportunity to reverse the firing decision or at least, alter the contract to complete the schools that are almost finished and hold the Builder accountable for construction issues and "shoddy" workmanship?

A. The Board has already given direction to staff to discontinue the relationship with USS Cal and is now looking ahead to ensure progress continues.  The contractors have continued to resolve any remaining punch list items and any other outstanding items that may present a safety concern. The new consultant will be assisting us in reviewing concerns regarding “shoddy” workmanship so we can present options to the Board and identify how we will proceed.

 

Q. Why are we not holding the people who took the money from our children and community accountable for their actions?

A. Please know that we are doing what we can to determine who is responsible for what as we work through construction in our school district. At this juncture, we are focusing on moving forward in a positive yet productive manner taking careful notes of areas of strength in this project and areas where we can improve so we learn and hopefully don’t make the same mistakes in the future.  

 

Q. What about access to the library or exploratorium room as promised?

A. District staff are working with the site architect to see about options to create a temporary path of travel to the portable which houses the library books. Facilities staff will also be looking to see what needs to be done in order to get the library open as quickly as possible.

 

Q. What about the lack of rain shelters and covered walkways?

A. Unfortunately, the original plans did not have rain shelters or covered walkways as part of the design. To construct these structures, the plans would have to go through the Division of State Architects and will take months of review. Also, the budget did not include them in the original construction. Covered walkways will be looked at as construction moves forward and is a priority for the District.

 

Q. Can Buri Buri get its own contractor to finish the project, not one that has to build all the remaining schools?

A. No decision has been made on what construction delivery method will be utilized for the remaining construction. The Board will be looking at staff recommendations and making those decisions once the prequalification process is completed.

 

Q. Why is the campus not secure? There is no fence around entire campus.

A. There is a perimeter fenced around the entire campus. The only time students have to walk on the sidewalk outside of the perimeter fence is when they walk to the MPR. District staff are working with the fencing contractor and site architect to see about installing a wrought iron fence and gates along the sidewalk by the drop off zone.

 

Updated July 2017

Q. What are the construction hours for Measure J construction?

A. Development activity and heavy equipment operation is restricted to 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., Monday through Friday; 9:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. on Saturday and 10:00 a.m to 6: 00 p.m. on Sunday or holidays observed by the District.