By the end of next month, the San Ramon Valley Unified School District should be taking the first steps toward building a $31 million elementary school and a $43.5 million renovation project at Stone Valley Middle School.
"There's a lot of work on these projects that goes before putting a shovel in the dirt," said SRVUSD Board President Ken Mintz.
A draft timeline calls for the district to hire architects to begin designing the new school, with an eye toward breaking ground in spring 2014 and completion by the fall of 2015.
"It takes about 30 months or so on a new school," Mintz said. "You really hope to have it done by the middle of summer, so you can move students into it."
Renovations to Stone Valley should begin by June 2015, according to the timeline.
"Stone Valley is an older school and a lot of that site needs an upgrade. It's going to be phased in," Mintz said, explaining that the school will be in use while the renovations are being done. That calls for careful planning about what happens when.
"It will take some time. Early on, we'll be doing design plans and that sort of thing," he said.
The timeline calls for the first phase to wrap up in late 2016; the second phase will begin in early 2016 and is expected to be completed by late 2017.
Among the other work that's expected to begin soon is technology upgrades for schools across the district, new security cameras and work to make the entire district compliant with the American with Disabilities Act.
Voters approved Measure D, the $260 bond measure to pay for work district wide, on Nov. 6. Now, the school board is trying to decide the most prudent way to borrow the money.
Mintz said the board made two commitments to voters: to keep the entire borrowing at less than $75 per $100,000 of asessed valuation. That includes paying off existing bonds in addition to the new borrowing.
The board also committed to paying off all of its bonds in 25 years.
It looked at three options for its borrowing, which includes using current interest bonds, CIBs, which pay dividends every year, using capital appreciation bonds, CABs, which allow payments to be deferred while interest accrues, or allow for a combination of both.
The board approved issuing $75 million in bonds at its meeting on Tuesday. It's waiting for information from the experts before deciding which option it would take for the remainder of the borrowing, although for its first round, it's using CIBs alone.
Mintz said the current consensus of the board is ultimately to use a combination. He said that plan would also allow for a use of all CIBs if it chooses.
Using only CIBs could cause problems, he said, because paying interest annually would limit the amount of money that can be borrowed while keeping its two commitments.
He said it makes sense to borrow as much as possible while the economy is still soft and construction companies are bidding low on project.
"We want to take advantage of the current economic environment and spending more sooner appears to do that," he said.
But CABs may be on their way out.
California State Treasurer Bill Lockyer calls CABs the school district equivalent of a payday loan. Recent stories have shown some districts that used them as a way of borrowing are paying 10 times the value of the bond.
In one case, a school district in the San Diego area is paying $1 billion for a $100 million bond.