Board OKs $5M to buy land for new school

Property at corner of Sunnyslope and Fairview roads

The Hollister School District’s Board of Trustees unanimously approved a $5 million deal to purchase a 12-acre parcel of land at Sunnyslope and Fairview roads in the Santana Ranch development.

The move is a major step in the district’s desire to build a new school for transitional kindergartners through eighth-graders to meet the needs of a growing population.

“Yes, it absolutely was a big step (to acquire the land), because we had to correct some errors in the past,” said district trustee Robert Bernosky. “There are some people who believe that the developer was supposed to donate that land, but we ended up paying for it.”

Board President Patricia Moore made the motion to approve the action and was seconded by Trustee Elsa Rodriguez at a May 31 special meeting. Moore, Rodriguez and fellow trustees Bernosky, Peter Hernandez and Elizabeth Martinez all supported the land deal between the school district and the Larry W. Anderson and Georgeann M. Anderson Revocable Family Trust, according to the agenda.

“I’m extremely excited. We need a new school,” said Hernandez. “It’s a void that was filled. But there’s still a lot of growth in the community, so there’s a lot of catching up to do. This is one good step.”

Prior to acquiring the land, the district had already earmarked $36 million in Measure V funds (approved by voters in November 2016) for construction costs. Hollister school leaders are counting on an additional $26 million in matching funds from the state’s Proposition 51, as well as revenues from developer fees, to cover the rest.

“Now that we have the land, we will start building the new school, maybe as early as next year,” said Bernosky, who noted the completion of a new school will fulfill the district’s promise to taxpayers to do so with the bond monies.

Measure V was intended “to help fund the construction of a new 900-plus student elementary/middle school to keep class sizes optimal and prevent overcrowding,” according to the school district’s fact sheet. An Independent Citizens Bond Oversight Committee was also included in the ballot measure.

“Look at all the new rooftops you see going up around San Benito County. Eventually, that will result in more children for our schools,” Bernosky said. “We are getting close to capacity, and we have some rather old schools.”

The school is expected to be ready by August 2020.

The 12-acre property is on Fairview Road at the end of Sunnyslope and will be the ninth elementary school site and 12th primary school program in the district. The Hollister district currently serves about 5,500 students.

Decisions to be made on project at June 26 meeting

The board was scheduled to review several action items at the June 26 meeting regarding the new school site, including a proposed $41.5 million design-build contract with John F. Otto Inc., dba Otto Construction, Inc.

Additionally, three consent items, considered routine and approved in a single vote, being considered by board were:

  • A $75,000 contract with Earth Systems Pacific to “perform all observations, monitoring, testing (if needed) and prepare all required documents and reports on behalf of the district” at the request of the state Department of Toxic Substances and Control;
  • A $132,296 contract, also with Earth Systems Pacific, for a site investigation work plan, a removal action plan and a removal action completion report “for construction of the new school at Santana Ranch”; and
  • A $185,000 contract with EMC Planning Group for “all required biological surveys, observations and monitoring prior to, during and post-construction.”

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