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HBCSD has established an email listserv that allows recipients the ability to stay connected to District updates regarding the Sowers Modernization Project.

Sowers Middle School Modernization

Important Dates

*Date        Event                                                                                                                                                                       
5/25/21 Board of Trustees Study Session: Measure Q update and Sowers MS Modernization presentation
6/21 Board of Trustees & District Staff to visit modular construction school sites  

Public Information Session | Public Information Session Recording

7/20/21 Board of Trustees Regular Board Meeting Update
8/17/21 Board of Trustees Regular Board Meeting Update
9/14/21 Board of Trustees Regular Board Meeting Update
9/21/21 Board of Trustees Study Session | Board of Trustees Study Session Recording 
10/19/21 Board of Trustees Regular Board Meeting Update and Tentative Decision on Modernization or New Construction

*Dates subject to change

Visit the following link to submit a Sowers Modernization question.

Sowers Modernization Question Form 

  1. What are the options for Sowers modernization under consideration by the Board?
    At the March 16 special study session of the Board, several options were presented to the Board for consideration, including modernization, reconstruction, modular reconstruction, portable campus buildings, relocating Sowers to a vacant or leased school site, or relocating the middle school grades to an elementary campus to create a K-8 school.  The Board narrowed the options to the modernization of the current campus or modular reconstruction.  Both options would require soil mitigation due to liquefaction.  You can review the Studio W presentation.
  2. Why is the modernization of Sowers taking longer than the other schools? Why was the Board considering so many options?  
    Sowers was moved to later in the Measure ‘Q’ facilities modernization program following the conclusion of a geotechnical study on the site that indicated an extensive effort would be required to stabilize the soil under the site to meet current earthquake standards. Soil stabilization is required at Sower due to the potential for “liquefaction” during a significant earthquake event. The geotechnical study was performed following the development of the District’s Facilities Master Plan and approval of the  Measure ‘Q’ school modernization program. The Board is considering multiple options to strike a balance between the needs of the school and the funding that is available from Measure ‘Q’ and other potential sources.
  3. What is liquefaction and how can it be addressed?
    Liquefaction takes place when loosely packed, water-logged sediments at or near the ground surface lose their strength in response to strong ground shaking. Liquefaction occurring beneath buildings and other structures can cause major damage during earthquakes (source Soil conditions that foster liquefaction can be addressed by various engineered solutions. For buildings, the installation of underground reinforcing pier structures and soil mixing with concrete are most common.
  4. What is the cost of mitigating liquefaction?
    The cost varies depending upon the size and construction of the structure(s) to be reinforced, as well as the condition of the underlying soils. The initial cost to mitigate liquefaction at Sowers was projected to be in the $8-$10 million range.
  5. Will Sowers still get a gym and STEM lab as Dwyer has?
    Yes, a gymnasium and STEM lab at Sowers was specified in the District’s Master Facilities Plan. Construction plans have been developed for the existing site.
  6. Will the Sowers gym and STEM lab require liquefaction mitigation? If so, how much will it cost?
    Yes, the design and plans for the Sowers gymnasium and STEM lab take into account that the underlying soil will require mitigation. However, because these buildings are not yet in place, soil mitigation work can be performed during the site improvement phase of construction and is both less complex and less costly. Liquefaction mitigation for these buildings as currently designed is estimated to be $1.7 million.
  7. What is the cost difference between modernization and modular reconstruction?  
    This depends greatly on the nature of the modernization required of any existing structures, and the specifications and finishes required for a comparable modular campus replacement.
  8. Are modular buildings like portables?
    Modular buildings are like portable buildings in that they are fabricated in a factory and brought onto a site for installation. Modular buildings differ from portable buildings in that modular buildings are built as permanent installations and typically require a foundation that anchors the building to the ground. Portable buildings are built as temporary structures and are typically installed on a raised foundation.
  9. What is the timeline for a decision to be made?
    In order to obtain the best prices in the current climate of cost escalation of building materials, the recommendation is tentatively scheduled to be presented to the Board for final approval on September 21, 2021, to allow for construction to begin in summer 2022.  The District has planned several public information and input sessions between now and September 21.  Please review the updated timeline of events on the District website.
  10. Will fencing be included in modernization like on the other modernized campuses?
    Yes. We do not have fencing plans as of yet but will generate concepts for the modernization and reconstruction options as we continue to move forward on the studies.
  11. Will students are on campus in portables during construction or will they be temporarily moved to a different site?
    The answer to this question will be determined in the coming months based on the campus replacement approach the Board selects. In the event a new campus is constructed (per the modular campus option) we are assuming that students would continue to receive instruction on the existing Sowers campus. This is however only an assumption and is subject to where the new campus is located in relation to the existing campus. Should modernization of the existing campus be the approach selected, students may be relocated either on or off-site depending on the schedule and anticipated disruption of the campus for soils mitigation and structural upgrades.
  12. Home economics and science courses require plumbing and sometimes gas lines. Will the modular buildings have this as well?
    Requirements for student labs and shops are being reviewed during the current study phase.  Modular classrooms can be designed to accommodate both home economics and science labs. However, customizing modular buildings for specialty applications may not be cost-effective when reviewed against traditional construction options. Following completion of the current modernization study and during the architectural design phase, the cost of custom modular specialty classrooms will be compared to the cost to renovate existing and/or build new specialty classrooms with traditional construction. The final design and construction option for specialty classrooms will then be selected to meet both the needs of students and the available budget. 
  13. Will natural light be added as part of the modernization or modular construction process? 
    Yes, natural light will be an extensive design feature of both options.  That being said, there are greater limitations to the ability to provide natural light in the modernization option.  This is due to the inability to modify the existing concrete construction, as it would compromise the lateral resisting elements of the existing building.

  14. What percentage of the Gisler site sale funds will be allocated to the Sowers modernization?
    Approximately 74% or $28 million from the Gisler sale proceeds were identified to offset the cost of the Sowers modernization project.  The final allocation would be determined based on the Board’s decision on October 19.

  15. What are the differences between Modular construction and stick-built construction (ie. costs, design, etc.)? 
    Modular construction elements (roof, walls, and interior/exterior finishes) are built and assembled in a factory and then erected on site. Stick-built construction comprises a more typical construction process where all building elements are erected on site. Due to the nature of public school construction, a school district can save on prevailing wage costs if elements are constructed in a factory.  This is the reason modular construction is traditionally 25-30% less expensive. Both construction methodologies are permanent in nature and have similar life expectancies, however, there are limitations to the design of modular buildings due to what can be manufactured in the factory and shipped to the site.

  16. Will the existing elective and special education classrooms be included as part of the modernization or modular construction process?
    Yes, it is anticipated that the same classroom facilities currently offered at Sowers MS, will be part of the modernization and new construction options.

  17. Will outdoor seating/social spaces be added as part of the modernization or modular construction process?  
    Yes, outdoor seating for the purposes of socialization and learning will be part of the courtyard formed by the new gym and STEM lab as well as outside the “mall” areas in the modernization option.

  18. Where will the bus yard be located if it is included in the modernization process?
    The modernization and new construction option feature a separate fenced bus yard on the northwest section of the property closest to Indianapolis Avenue.

  19. What structural safety enhancements will be made if the modernization option is implemented? 
    It is anticipated that the foundation piers, concrete slab, and “roof to wall” connections will all be seismically enhanced in the modernization option, thus providing a full seismic retrofit of the existing building to the current seismic code.

  20. What are the timelines associated with both options?
    Both options have a final occupancy anticipated in August 2024, however, each option has phases.  For more information on the timeline for each phase, please refer to the options presented as part of the September 21 Study Session.

  21. What are the costs associated with both options?
    The estimated costs of the project options are as follows:
    Modernization Option ~$67.5M total project cost
    New Construction Option ~$72.7M total project cost
    Please refer to the options presented as part of the September 21 Study Session for further information regarding costs.

  22. Will stakeholders have an opportunity to offer input on the design plan?
    The Board has held numerous study sessions, conducted public information sessions on June 17 and September 21, and conducted a Thoughtexchange to gather input on preferences in the design of modernization and modular reconstruction in June 2021.  Members of the public who reviewed the options presented as part of the September 21 Study Session and would like to provide input can contact the Board or submit public comments prior to the Board's consideration of a decision on October 19.  The designs are conceptual at this point and regardless of the decision to modernize or rebuild, the Board will consider approval of specific designs at a later date.

  23. Is there any chance the Gisler site sale will fall through and we can keep this property and move our students there?
    At this time, the sale is on track to close escrow in May of 2022.  However, the buyer could extend escrow one year to May 2023.  The District could explore alternative options if that deadline is not met. 

  24. Will the district consider long-term benefits over short-term costs/disruptions?
    This is a decision that will be considered by the Board of Trustees at the October 19, 2021 meeting after careful consideration of the options presented at the September 21 Study Session.

  25. Will the district decide between the options based more on cost? Or better value even if it is more costly?
    This is a decision that will be considered by the Board of Trustees at the October 19, 2021 meeting after careful consideration of the options presented at the September 21 Study Session.
  26. Will the district review the traffic and parking impacts of both options?
    Either design, modernization, or new construction, will create additional on-campus traffic flow.  This will reduce the impacts to the surrounding areas by allowing more cars to be on the site and flow more freely off and on the campus.