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Sowers Middle School Reconstruction

Throughout the past several months, Huntington Beach City School District staff, in partnership with our architectural and construction firms, have been paving the path to make the Sowers Middle School Reconstruction project a reality for our students, staff, and community.

We are excited to present the following video that highlights the building blocks of the reconstruction process: project renderings, funding sources, and anticipated timelines.

Important information and dates will be added to this webpage as it become available. Dates are subject to change.

Visit the following link to submit a Sowers Reconstruction question.

Sowers Reconstruction Question Form 

  1. What option was selected by the Board for the Sowers modernization project?

    At the March 16, 2021, special study session of the Board, several options were presented to the Board for consideration, including modernization, reconstruction, modular reconstruction, portable campus buildings, relocating Sowers to a vacant or leased school site, or relocating the middle school grades to an elementary campus to create a K-8 school.  The Board narrowed the options to the modernization of the current campus or modular reconstruction.  Both options would require soil mitigation due to liquefaction.  You can review the Studio W presentation from the March 16, 2021 meeting.  

    At the October 19, 2021 Board meeting, the Board approved moving forward with reconstructing Sowers Middle School.

  2. Why is the modernization of Sowers taking longer than the other schools? Why did the Board consider so many options?  

    Sowers was moved to later in the Measure ‘Q’ facilities modernization program following the conclusion of a geotechnical study on the site that indicated an extensive effort would be required to stabilize the soil under the site to meet current earthquake standards. Soil stabilization is required at Sower due to the potential for “liquefaction” during a significant earthquake event.

    The geotechnical study was performed following the development of the District’s Facilities Master Plan and approval of the  Measure ‘Q’ school modernization program.

    The Board considered multiple options to strike a balance between the needs of the school and the funding that is available from Measure ‘Q’ and other potential sources.

  3. What is liquefaction and how can it be addressed?

    Liquefaction takes place when loosely packed, water-logged sediments at or near the ground surface lose their strength in response to strong ground shaking. Liquefaction occurring beneath buildings and other structures can cause major damage during earthquakes (source Soil conditions that foster liquefaction can be addressed by various engineered solutions. For buildings, the installation of underground reinforcing pier structures and soil mixing with concrete are most common.

  4. What is the cost of mitigating liquefaction?

    The cost varies depending upon the size and construction of the structure(s) to be reinforced, as well as the condition of the underlying soils. The initial cost to mitigate liquefaction at Sowers was projected to be in the $8-$10 million range.

  5. Will the Sowers reconstruction project include a gym and STEM lab?

    Yes, a gymnasium and STEM lab at Sowers was specified in the District’s Master Facilities Plan. Construction plans have been developed and will be included in the reconstruction project.

  6. Will the Sowers gym and STEM lab require liquefaction mitigation? If so, how much will it cost?

    Yes, the design and plans for the Sowers gymnasium and STEM lab take into account that the underlying soil will require mitigation. However, because these buildings are not yet in place, soil mitigation work can be performed during the site improvement phase of construction and is both less complex and less costly. Liquefaction mitigation for these buildings as currently designed is estimated to be ~$1.7 million.

  7. What is the cost of the reconstruction using modular classroom buildings?  

    The reconstruction was presented at the October 19, 2021 Board meeting to cost an estimated ~$72.7M.  Construction will include modular classroom buildings and other buildings will be built using traditional construction.

  8. Are modular buildings similar to portables?

    Modular buildings are like portable buildings only in that they are fabricated in a factory and brought onto a site for installation. Modular buildings differ from portable buildings as modular buildings are built as permanent installations and typically require a foundation that anchors the building to the ground.  Modular buildings are truly permanent structures prefabricated in a factory. Portable buildings are built as temporary structures and are typically installed on a raised foundation.

    Modular Buildings Example #1 Video 
    Modular Buildings Example #2 Video 

  9. Will fencing be included in the reconstruction project?

    Yes. As the design develops we will generate concepts for the fencing options in line with current district practices.

  10. Will students be on campus in portables during construction or will they be temporarily moved to a different site?

    New construction will allow students to be in the existing permanent building until moving into the new campus in a phased approach.

  11. Home economics and science courses require plumbing and sometimes gas lines. Will the modular buildings have this as well?

    Requirements for student labs and shops are being reviewed during the current study phase.  Modular classrooms can be designed to accommodate both home economics and science labs. However, customizing modular buildings for specialty applications may not be cost-effective when reviewed against traditional construction options. Following completion of the current modernization study and during the architectural design phase, the cost of custom modular specialty classrooms will be compared to the cost to renovate existing and/or build new specialty classrooms with traditional construction. The final design and construction option for specialty classrooms will then be selected to meet both the needs of students and the available budget. 

  12. Will natural light be added as part of the reconstruction project? 

    Yes, natural light will be an extensive design feature in reconstruction.  

  13. What percentage of the Gisler site sale funds will be allocated to the Sowers reconstruction?

    Approximately 74% or $28 million from the Gisler sale proceeds were identified to offset the cost of the Sowers reconstruction project.  The final allocation would be determined as the budget is refined through design. 

  14. What is modular construction and what does it entail (ie. costs, design, etc.)? 

    Modular construction elements (roof, walls, and interior/exterior finishes) are built and assembled in a factory and then erected on site. Due to the nature of public school construction, a school district can save on prevailing wage costs if elements are constructed in a factory.  This is the reason modular construction is traditionally 25-30% less expensive than traditional construction. Both construction methodologies are permanent in nature and have a similar life expectancy, however, there are limitations to the design of modular buildings due to what can be manufactured in the factory and shipped to the site.

  15. Will the existing elective and special education classrooms be included as part of the modular construction process?

    Yes, it is anticipated that the same classroom facilities currently offered at Sowers MS, will be part of the new construction.

  16. Will outdoor seating/social spaces be added as part of the reconstruction process?  

    Yes, outdoor seating for the purposes of socialization and learning will be part of the courtyard formed by the new gym and STEM lab as well as outside the “mall” areas in the reconstruction option.

  17. Where will the bus yard be located if it is included in the reconstruction process?

    The design of the new construction features a separate fenced bus yard on the northwest section of the property closest to Indianapolis Avenue.  The Board has approved the design of the bus yard but has not yet determined if it will be built at this time.

  18. What is the reconstruction project timeline?

    For more information on the timeline for each phase, please refer to the options presented as part of the September 21 Study Session.

  19. Will stakeholders have an opportunity to offer input on the design plans?

    The Board has held numerous study sessions; conducted public information sessions; and conducted a Thoughtexchange to gather input on preferences in the design of modernization and modular reconstruction in June 2021.  The Board also received input at the September 21 Study Session and prior to the Board's consideration of a decision on October 19.  The designs are conceptual at this point and regardless of the decision to modernize or rebuild, the Board will consider approval of specific designs at a later date. 

  20. When will the Gisler site sale be finalized?

    At this time, the sale is on track to close escrow in May of 2022.  However, the buyer could extend escrow one year to May 2023.  The District could explore alternative options if that deadline is not met.

  21. Will the district review the traffic and parking impacts as part of the reconstruction project?

    Yes.  New Construction will create additional on-campus traffic flow.  This will reduce the impacts to the surrounding areas by allowing more cars to be on the site and flow more freely off and on the campus. 

  22. Will the city park along Indianapolis (Sowers Park) be affected by the reconstruction project?

    No, the city park will not be disturbed during the Sowers Reconstruction.

  23. Will the Sowers fields be accessible by the reconstruction project?

    Yes, the fields will remain open but sections of the fields will be intermittently utilized by reconstruction teams. All areas affected by the reconstruction will be secured with fencing.
  24. When is construction starting?

    The reconstruction project is anticipated to start in fall 2022.

Quick Links

Sowers Reconstruction ListServe Signup Form 

HBCSD has established an email listserv that allows recipients the ability to stay connected to District updates regarding the Sowers Modernization Project.