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Construction Update, Fire Science Program On Trustees’ Agenda

Sonora, CA – An update from District Superintendent Pat Chabot is among the discussion items on the Board of Trustees meeting agenda Tuesday.

Chabot shares that despite the December-January rains and most recent bout of wet weather, a mostly dry February allowed construction to remain on schedule. Sharing the latest he confides, “We started building the cafeteria…the slab has been poured and the metal I-beams have been put in…so now [the crews] are working on the walls.” From his window Chabot describes peering at the completed track and field prep chores that will facilitate starting in on the actual field work now that the rain has eased up. Too, he adds, “We are almost ready to start in on the bridge that will be going over between the band room and the field.” The track and field improvements will be completed “way in time for graduation,” he states assuredly.

Last week, the board sold the remaining $5 million in previoulsy approved Measure-J bonds for which it will receive $4.85 million. Next, Chabot states, “We are planning on going out for bid on the pool as soon as possible, and if all things come in within the amount of money that we have left over, we will start construction on the pool, hopefully as early as June.”

Planned Centennial Hall improvements have been scaled back to fit the revised budget, Chabot says. “We are hoping to have enough money left to work on the windows…to ease the heat and air,” he notes, adding that plans are to touch on all the “critical improvement items.” Ruefully he points out, “The lawsuit did cost quite a lot of money and impact the entire project quite a bit — not just the lawyer fee but the escalation cost — the cost of doing the construction now, as opposed to two years ago…we don’t have as much money and won’t be able to do as much work as we had hoped to.”

Tracking Surveillance System Progress 

As for plans to finally upgrade the school’s outdated surveillance system, Chabot reports that meetings this afternoon and tomorrow morning are scheduled in order to finalize bids. “There are a lot of governmental regulations involved that have impacted the speed of this,” he admits. However, he says that with bids going out by the end of the month, the school is on track to have system installed this spring and over the summer so that it will be fully installed and operational in time for the next school year.

In other action items, the trustees anticipate approving a revised job description for the position of Fire Science Instructor with the hope that student enrollment in Fire Science will increase enough to continue the program into the next school year. Chabot explains, “It used to be an ROP [regional occupational program] class…now it is career tech ed…so we are cleaning up the job description a bit.”

According to Chabot, this is the fifth year for the curriculum at Sonora High. At is now being team-taught by three teachers, all retired firefighters, and two are planning to altogether retire at the end of this school year, a new hire will be necessary should the program remain in place. The two-period course, which feeds into instruction offered at Columbia College not only gives students a head start, it allows them to accrue college credits while still attending high school. Currently 12 students are enrolled. Chabot hopes the school will be able to increase that number to 20 or more, as several graduates have successfully transitioned through the program to work for the Sonora Fire Dept. and CAL FIRE. After all, he emphasizes, “There are a lot of jobs out there and I think about half of our students right now have gotten offers to continue with their firefighting career.”

Among the hires up for board approval at Tuesday’s meeting is current JV Boys’ Soccer Coach Qani Berisha, who, pending the vote, will this Wednesday become Varsity Boys’ Soccer Coach. The slot became open after Lloyd Longeway resigned to devote more time to work on his teaching certificate. Longeway still coaches JV Boys’ Basketball. The meeting will begin at 6 p.m. in the first-floor district conference room (100 School St.).