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School District Seeks More Building Funds
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With the Riverbank school district facing a shortfall in bond funding, district architects have proposed some additional state funding that could allow it to move ahead with construction of an additional Riverbank High gym as planned and make a start with phased construction of a new elementary school.

Marty Dietz representing Darden Architects of Fresno presented the "creative solutions and possible options" in a letter and explained them further at the Sept. 4 board meeting. Trustees heard his presentation and additional information from financial consultant Jack Schreder's representatives and took them under advisement for later action.

Any phasing scenario for the school proposed at Mesa Drive and Eleanor Avenue must include construction of the classrooms first to make the project eligible for state funding through the state's School Facilities Program (SFP), said Dietz. The district currently qualifies for state funding of about $6.4 million based on Elementary School Pupil Grants for 595 unhoused students and there is little risk of the district failing to obtain this money.

But it is essential to apply for the funds by Oct. 31 when the state closes the books and calculates this year's enrollment figures since district enrollment is declining.

Another state funding program for which the district could be eligible is the Overcrowded Relief Grant program (ORG) used in conjunction with the SFP program. Between them they would bring in another $600,000 in state grants and allow the district to secure a low interest loan of about $2.1 million from the state.

Seeking both the SFP and ORG funds, the district could fund 10 classrooms of the elementary school to house 256 students under the ORG grant and 16 classrooms to house 400 more students under the SFP program.