School work hits a snag
The state agency charged with overseeing school construction has slowed work on portable classrooms at Hatch Elementary School. Cat Cutillo / Review

A snare with the state permitting process will further delay the start of the Hatch Elementary School modernization project, which is now estimated to begin a year later than originally planned.

In a letter to the Hatch Elementary School community, Cabrillo Unified School District Superintendent Jane Yuster said the district has decided to delay teachers’ planned move to portable classrooms from winter break to summer in light of communications with the California Division of the State Architect. That agency is responsible for reviewing school construction projects and issuing building permits for them.

The Division of the State Architect requested Cabrillo’s “as built” plans for Hatch as part of its application, but the district couldn’t find them. The state later found the original building plan, but it did not exactly match what the current buildings look like, school officials say. As a result, DSA will require Cabrillo to perform a series of tests to prove the proposed remodel will work before it will greenlight construction. March is the new goal for approval, according to Yuster’s letter.

Work has been ongoing at Hatch to prepare the campus for the official start of the modernization project, which was expected in January. Crews have been preparing 28 temporary portables for use as classrooms and are working on the parking lot extension.

But with the DSA delay, those portables will sit vacant until summertime.

“We are now officially a year late,” Yuster said when reached on Monday. “There is a lot of construction going on right now. (DSA) is slowed down, so we’re slowed down. We would like to move ahead faster, but there isn’t anything the district could have done differently in this situation.”

It will take a year to complete the roughly $24 million Hatch remodel, which will involve building a new kindergarten wing and making updates to the administrative area and library. Students will spend the entire 2016-17 school year in the portables, while kindergarten classes will be housed there for an additional year as the district intended.

The Hatch project was originally slated to begin in June, but the start date was moved to January. Former Cabrillo Superintendent Tony Roehrick said at the time that decision was made in light of a delay in DSA review of the project, as well as PG&E’s inability to install a power system for the portable classrooms sooner.

This latest delay is one of several that Cabrillo Measure S projects have incurred of late. The construction of the new Cunha Intermediate School gymnasium, permanent Pilarcitos High School campus and renovation of Half Moon Bay High School’s track and field are also behind their initial estimated schedules.

While Yuster said such delays are frustrating, there was a bright spot with the delay at Hatch. Whereas teachers would have had only days to get settled in the portable classrooms before students returned from winter break, they will now have time to tour the temporary facilities before they move in over the summer.

“The reaction I got when I spoke with the teachers was a lot of relief,” Yuster said. “It reinforced that we made the correct decision.”

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