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San Benito
February 27, 2024

Slimmed-down Santana Ranch School design finished

Hollister School District trustees for the first time Tuesday will see the 100 percent design plans for the new Santana Ranch School planned at Fairview and Sunnyslope roads, and to the dismay of some that project will not include a gym or multipurpose room.
That school will be much smaller in size than the standard K-8 campus due to a lacking budget on the project, and school officials are looking at January 2021 as a target opening date.
That campus, meant to accommodate growth with the new Santana Ranch development in that area, will be situated on about 12 acres, which is 60 percent of the 20 acres recommended for such a school, district officials have said.
Otto Construction, Inc. delivered the 70% design package to the district Oct. 12, with board approval, and will present the 100 percent design package at Tuesday’s 5 p.m. meeting at the district office, 2690 Cienega Road. If school board OKs the final design, Otto Construction will submit the new school design to Division of the State Architect on Jan. 4, according to the agenda.
The size of the $42 million project has left some key school officials uncomfortable, meanwhile, with the interim superintendent and one trustee outspoken on the issue.
Interim Superintendent Dr. William Barr spoke to the county board in November and expressed his views on the matter. He, like Trustee Robert Bernosky, was particularly focused on a lack of a multipurpose room or gym on the campus.
“I’m on record of having said I can’t conceive of having a school without a multipurpose room,” Barr said at the time.
That aspect of the campus was left out because of a $5 million budget shortfall. The district originally thought developer Anderson Homes was going to donate the land, but that didn’t end up happening and HSD paid market value for the property, or $5 million. Barr in November noted how it’s half the size of what’s needed for a K-8 campus.
“My point is that we’re making the best possible result for a school,” he said.
Bernosky voted against the 70 percent design and doesn’t anticipate his view changing on the 100 percent package. He believes there will be a missing element for physical education and sports.
“You don’t have things like a gym or a large multipurpose area” at the school where students would hold assemblies and dances or sporting events like volleyball or basketball, he said.
“To me,” he went on, “I’m very frustrated by that.”
Bernosky pointed to flaws in the negotiation process that led to the need to buy the land without a donation.
“I think the developer benefited from a somewhat ambiguous or nonspecific development agreement with the county and city,” he said. “When push came to shove, they said we’re not under any obligation to give you this land or even sell it to you below market value.”
As for other details outside of the lacking gym or multipurpose area, John Teliha, the director of facilities, told county supervisors in November it would include a tiered approach with a parking lot, buildings, asphalt and play fields. The classroom buildings will be two stories with elevators to meet ADA compliance. There’s a total of 36 rooms. Not all of those are for classroom space, with some meant for food prep, multipurpose activities and specialized student programs.
He said the school is currently being designated as a transitional K-8 school to accommodate 750-900 students, depending on the programming that’s finalized once the project is done.
That campus will be adjacent to a proposed county park, but it will lack the indoor sports facilities built at most other schools.
“So there will be no sports,” Bernosky said. “You should have a gym. Sports should be available, especially in middle school.”