At the South San Francisco Unified School District’s (SSFUSD) October 20 community forum, a presentation about the district’s facility needs sparked an impassioned dialogue among school board members and some members of the public.
According to Bill Savidge, a consultant who has worked with SSFUSD’s department of business services for several years, the district’s facilities master plan has identified more than $850 million worth of repairs and upgrades that can help SSFUSD maintain a safe learning environment for students.
These include the modernization of aging facilities and the replacement deteriorating infrastructure and mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems that have reached the end of their useful life.
“We have many buildings in South San Francisco Unified that have been identified as needing upgrades to their structural systems,” Savidge said, “and those typically are due to the fact that our current [building] codes have gone well beyond the codes that were in place when these buildings were built, and they require much higher performance in the event of an earthquake or other seismic event.”
However, SSFUSD Board of Trustees Vice President Mina Richardson questioned whether such repairs would amount to a band-aid approach and asked when it might make more sense to erect new structures instead.
“When we have adequate funding for full replacement meeting current codes and upgrading the systems and all of the supports that go with it, those would not be band-aids,” said Savidge.
He also pointed out that the state of California recommends replacing buildings, if the cost of rehabilitating them exceeds 50% of the replacement value.
However, Savidge added that replacing buildings instead of modernizing them would be more expensive and limit the number of schools that could be served.
At that point, Heather Burns, a teacher at Los Cerritos Elementary School, interjected.
“South San Francisco Classroom Teachers Association is endorsing Measure T,” Burns said. “We believe that this money is needed for our school [Los Cerritos], title 1 schools, and for other buildings in our district. . .The schools need this money. The students, the kids, deserve this money to rebuild, remodel our buildings and grounds.”
Daina Lujan, the board’s clerk, agreed.
“As I think about these needs, though, they’re critical for our staff. They’re critical for our students, and they’re critical for our families, because when our families drop off their children at school into the care of staff, they’re trusting that there’s plumbing that works, there’s electrical things that work, the gas lines are secure.”
Measure T is a $436 million bond measure that the school board has placed on the November 8 ballot.
If approved by voters, it would provide SSFUSD with funding to renovate and repair the district’s aging buildings and antiquated facilities.
Learn more about Measure T at: