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PUSD Proposes $32M for Middle School

Pasadena Unified School District staff presented preliminary numbers for building Sierra Madre’s middle school campus Tuesday. Though the budget isn't finalized, parents are pleased.

PUSD Proposes $32M for Middle School

The long-awaited construction of a middle school building to house Sierra Madre School’s seventh and eighth graders moved one step closer to reality yesterday.

A preliminary Facilities Master Plan was presented to Pasadena Unified School District officials, and it included a $32 million budget to build a middle school building on Sierra Madre School’s campus.

The outline for the building included 22 classrooms plus two science labs and a computer lab, a library, gymnasium and parking lot. There was also talk of dedicating four of the rooms to middle school students of PUSD’s English and Chinese-Mandarin dual language immersion program, which is currently only offered at Field Elementary School in Pasadena.

The FMP also included $4.7 million for upgrades to , including a pre-kindergarten building and HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) upgrades to the auditorium and classrooms plus a new staff parking lot.

The FMP included budgets for nearly every school in the PUSD. However, the budgets and plans are just proposals at this point. Staff was asked to take a hard look at all the numbers and projects over the next several weeks and to carefully consider each project before presenting a final FMP to the Board of Education for approval.

Still, the proposal was welcomed by a few parents from “Organize Sierra Madre Schools,” who attended the meeting. Melissa Castillo of OSMS stood up to thank PUSD officials for listening to the group’s requests.


Budget Cuts Affected Plans

Though the proposed construction budgets for Sierra Madre School will be able to upgrade the campus, the district is working with about 20-percent less in funding than originally anticipated; not only for Sierra Madre, but for all PUSD schools.

A shortage of Measure TT funding “due to the lack of anticipated state, local and grant matching funds,” is to blame, according to PUSD.

Sierra Madre parents were worried that the cuts could put the middle school construction in jeopardy.

The budget for Sierra Madre’s middle school was affected by the cuts—but fortunately not to the point where constructing a new school became impossible. The original budget for the building was $38 million in 2009, when officials were still considering revamping the old middle school instead of tearing it down. Now, it’s about $32 million, according to the most recent plans.

Sierra Madre Elementary school’s 2009 construction budget was $5.9 million, and now it has been reduced by about $900k to $4.7 million. Modernization of the auditorium and kitchen were taken out of the construction plans to make up for the funding gap.

What Happens Now?

Board of Education members Tom Selinske, Ed Honowitz and Ramon Miramontes asked the other members of the PUSD Facilities Committee to take a second look at the FMP budgets and projects before they're presented to the Board of Education.

"We need to make sure we're providing for the needs of everyone," said Honowitz, who also stressed that it was important to make sure that the academic programs in each school matched the facilities upgrades proposed for the campus.

Miramontes also said more justification was needed for the funding cuts at certain schools. Some campuses saw drastic cuts while others saw only slight cuts. 

In the coming weeks, some funds could get moved around among PUSD campuses, however Miramontes indicated that the funding for Sierra Madre's middle school would likely stay intact.

The Facilities Committee will meet again in mid-July to go over the FMP before presenting it to the Board of Education.

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