Swimming Pool

Marin High Schools to obtain solar and electric vehicle equipment

Steel canopies with solar power and hookups for charging electric vehicles will be built in three high school parking lots in the Tamalpais Union High School District this summer, officials said.

Corbett Elsen, an assistant district superintendent, said the $9.7 million project will break ground at Archie Williams, Tamalpais and Redwood high schools in July and August.

Engie Services US Inc. contractors are expected to complete the work early next year, he said. Most of the heaviest work to install the steel canopies is done in the summer when school is out.

“It’s a win-win project that uses one-time money and is environmentally sustainable,” Elsen said. “There will be some disruption in the car parks but otherwise very little downside. It’s kind of fun.”

According to Elsen, the project is eligible for a 30% rebate under the federal law to reduce inflation. If approved, this would bring the net cost down to approximately $6.8 million.

In addition, by using solar energy, the district would see annual savings of $630,000, which could allow the project to pay for itself within 10 or 11 years, Elsen said.

He said the solar canopies will have additional circuits to allow the district to add more charging stations as electric vehicles become more popular. Planning permission for the three solar canopies is pending with California’s department of state architecture, which oversees public school construction projects, Elsen said.

District Superintendent Tara Taupier said the solar canopies are one of several key improvements identified during the district and community’s 10-month work during the 2021-22 school year facility master plan process.

“The District has identified some critical infrastructure improvements across all of our locations,” Taupier said. “This is a significant step in addressing and modernizing our critical energy infrastructure in an environmentally responsible manner.”

Karen Loebbaka, a member of the district board of trustees, agreed.

“The board has heard clearly from the community during the FMP process over the past year that the solar power plant projects are a high priority,” Loebbaka said, referring to the plants’ master plan. “We are very pleased to be able to implement and quickly approve these environmentally friendly improvements to our school premises.”

Initially, the district will pay for the solar roof installations from its facility reserve fund. That pool of money could be refunded if the district decides to implement a bond measure in March 2024 and if voters agree.

Godbe Research, a consulting firm, is polling county voters to determine if they are willing to approve a bond measure. The results of the survey will be presented to the trustees in the spring, Elsen said.

Based on the polls and advice from bond advisors, trustees have by November to decide whether to include the measure in the March 2024 vote.

Though the amount of the bond measure has not yet been decided, pollsters are asking voters whether they would take either $517 million or $487 million, according to Elsen.

The Board of Trustees approved these amounts for referendum purposes. Elsen said the numbers are “conditional due to the district’s updated facility master plan, given current hardware store conditions and updated building codes.”

For other construction projects, trustees agreed Tuesday to solicit bids to replace the artificial turf on Archie Williams High School’s athletic field at Red Hill Park this summer, Elsen said. The field, which is jointly farmed with the city, lies behind the Red Hill shopping center.

The contract, estimated at approximately $1.78 million, would also include the replacement of sidewalks around the artificial turf and the upgrade of the bathrooms to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act regulations. The contract does not include improvements to the adjacent dog park, owned and operated by the city.

The district also plans to resurface Redwood High School’s tennis courts this summer and replaster swimming pools at all locations as needed.

In other initiatives, design work on two important restoration projects at Redwood and Tamalpais high schools will continue for another year. Each of the projects would replace classrooms that are more than 100 years old or replace portable classrooms, some of which are 40 years past their lifespan.

Although the planning work has already been approved for payment from the district facilities reserve fund, actual construction financing would be dependent on the eventual passage of the bond measure. Each of the two upgrades is expected to cost around $42 million.

At Redwood, the renovation project would take place in the cafeteria area adjacent to the county offices. It would transform the space into a large conference area and student gathering area.

At Tamalpais High School, four buildings at the back of the campus used for math, auto repair, music, and photography classes would be demolished and replaced with a three-story math and science building.

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