New middle school on target for fall ’04 completion |

New middle school on target for fall ’04 completion

If construction of Alder Creek Middle School continues on schedule, this year’s fifth through seventh graders will be sharpening their pencils at the campus starting next school year.

The new campus, located on the corner of Alder and Thayer drives and off of Highway 89 North, should be complete by August 2004, said project manager Rob Koster. He estimated the construction is 45 percent finished, with the core facility completed and roofed.

“There’s plastic in the windows and doors. They’re winterized, and there’s nothing to stop them from moving forward,” Koster said.

The new campus, set on a 35-acre lot, will have 24 regular classrooms, a band room, health room, weight room and technology lab. Eight of the classrooms were slated to be in a permanent wing, but they will be housed in portables due to budget constraints. The 87,000-square-foot facility will also have a gym, cafeteria, administrative offices and a library.

Alder Creek also boasts an NCAA-sized soccer field with synthetic turf.

The new campus is sized for roughly 1,000 students but will open to only 700 next fall, Koster said.

The larger campus will provide some much needed space for middle school students, said Don Beno, principal at Sierra Mountain Middle School and future principal at Alder Creek.

“Of course [the new campus] is new and nice, but it’s much bigger than what we have here,” he said. “The kids will have more elbow room. There won’t be rules about having to walk this way or that way.”

Beno said some of Sierra Mountain’s student leaders may have the opportunity to take a tour of the campus later this school year.

Energy-efficient campus

In September 2001, Alder Creek Middle School was one of two schools in California to receive a grant from the California Energy Commission to create an energy efficient school.

The $250,000 grant has enabled the Tahoe Truckee Unified School District to conduct studies on how the new campus can be more energy efficient through daylighting, ground-source heating and green building materials.

The up-front cost of energy-efficient construction is more expensive than traditional building methods, but the school district will see a savings in the long run, Koster said.

The energy commission estimates that ground source heating (also called geothermal heating) can result in an annual energy savings of almost 60 percent.

The grant also stipulates that Alder Creek will have a high-efficiency central boiler and low-flow faucet fixtures for water savings.

The California Energy Commission also provides financing for schools, hospitals and local government through its Energy Efficiency Financing Program, which provides support through low-interest loans for feasibility studies and the installation of energy-saving measures.

What to do with Sierra Mountain

With all of the school district’s Truckee middle school students attending the new campus, district officials have been planning for the future use of Sierra Mountain Middle School, located on Donner Pass Road and Highway 89 south.

Several ideas have been tossed around, like moving some of the district’s off-campus programs into Sierra Mountain Middle, renting the old facility to local organizations, selling the campus and creating a district-sponsored charter school.

At one point, district officials considered using the campus to house the now-shutdown Prosser Creek Charter School.

Currently, the district is updating Sierra Mountain to meet educational facilities codes, with funds earmarked for modernization from the state.

However the campus is used, school officials have said it could provide the district with some much-needed income in the face of state budget reductions.

If the school district opts to sell the campus, it would first have to be offered to community organizations.

How Alder Creek is funded

When the new middle school opens its doors, the Tahoe Truckee Unified School District will have spent approximately $31 million on the project, which includes hard and soft (design fees, inspections fees, the land purchase) costs.

The funding came from Measure C, a $35 million bond that narrowly passed the two-thirds required majority in the March 1999 election. If Alder Creek opens on time, it will have taken more than five years to complete the project.

“From start to finish, it has been a very long process,” said Maggie Shane, who sits on the bond committee. “It seems like nothing’s getting done, but really there’s a lot going on. I’ve been on the committee for three years and we’re just starting to get this (Alder Creek Middle) built.”

Aside from the usual design, permit and application process, locating matching state funds has also taken time. The state offers a new construction fund to school districts that can front a percentage of matching dollars, which in Tahoe Truckee’s case have been fronted by Measure C.

Other Measure C funded projects

Although the new middle school will take the bulk of Measure C’s money, it isn’t the only project funded by the bond.

Measure C will also secure state matching funds for Tahoe Truckee High School’s new cafeteria, east wing modification and new gymnasium project. It also funded Truckee Elementary’s multi-purpose room and synthetic turf field.

With the bond, one project coming in under- or over-budget could affect other projects.

“If everything goes right at the [new] middle school, we’ll have extra funds for the [new] high school gym,” Shane said.

In 1999, the lake side of the school district passed a similar bond, Measure R, which will provide roughly $25 million in improvements for schools.

For photos of Alder Creek Middle School campus construction, check out

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