Big things are in store for the Weaver Union School District in the next three or four years.
Just over 56 percent of the district's voters approved Measure G in last month's election. That ultimately will yield $9 million, which will be combined with $18 million in state hardship and modernization funds to modernize the middle school, do other upgrades and build another elementary school.
"I'm excited about what it means for the future," Superintendent John Curry said. "It's great news. I sure am happy for students and families out here. We're a growing district with API scores over 800; we're doing some good things."
After the Merced County Elections Office formally certifies the Nov. 6 vote and sends a note to trustees for their approval, planning will begin in earnest, with help from the Emeryville consulting firm of Coldwell, Flores and Winters.
Bruce Alameida, assistant superintendent and projects director, said the original Weaver campus fronting on East Childs Avenue was built in 1948 and is due for a change. Pioneer Elementary School was built in 1994 and Farmdale School came along six years ago.
"All three sites have 800-plus students, and that's lots of kids," Alameida said. "We're pretty much at capacity. I know this will be a welcome addition to the Weaver family."
He has been with the district on the southeast side of Merced for 22 years.
Curry said the bond will tax residents $30 per $100,000 of assessed valuation. The district is overcrowded by at least 600 students and gained 60 more students this fall.
The project will include replacing portable classrooms with permanent buildings, mostly at the middle school but also at the other sites.
On election night, Measure G had 54.3 percent of the vote, needing 55 percent, or 32 more votes, to pass. Since then, more than 500 provisional votes have been counted, with 310 of them in favor of the bond measure.
Trustee Renee Nelson said the district has lots of work ahead of it with the impending construction.
"I'm very excited about what we will be able to accomplish for our schools," Nelson said. "With the opportunities voters have given us, we intend to do our very best to accomplish the goals. We will give Weaver students the necessary tools to succeed."
Curry estimates the modernization projects will be done by 2015, and the new elementary school campus built by the next year.
A review by the Merced Sun-Star and The Modesto Bee of the financing proposal put before voters prior to the election showed the Weaver bond could last until 2055 and ultimately cost taxpayers $23 million, based on the repayment schedule and interest rates.
Curry said there's no indication it will take that long or cost that much to pay off the bond. He said there will be a series of bond sales over time and the maximum possible property assessment is the $30 per $100,000 of assessed valuation.
Trustee Karen Wallace said there hasn't been any housing construction in the district for a long time, but many foreclosed homes in the Weaver area now have new owners, resulting in more students.
Wallace said Weaver Middle School is in dire need of upgrades. "These are opportunities to meet some of our challenges," Wallace said. "Our kids deserve it."
Reporter Doane Yawger can be reached at (209) 385-2407 or email@example.com.