July Sowers Middle School Reconstruction Update
We hope you’re enjoying a wonderful summer. We’d like to provide exciting updates on the ongoing Huntington Beach City School District (HBCSD) Sowers Middle School construction project.
In partnership with our architectural and construction firms, Huntington Beach City School District staff have paved the way to make the Sowers Middle School Reconstruction project a reality for our students, staff, and community.
We are excited to present the following video highlighting the reconstruction process's building blocks: 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.
Please enjoy the following Sowers Reconstruction video. This video presents the modular classroom installation and an aerial view of the administration building and construction progress. The aerial shots highlight the project's scale and integration.
Visit the following link to submit a Sowers Reconstruction question: Sowers Reconstruction Question Form
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.
Why did the Board consider so many options for the modernization of Sowers?
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.
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 school's needs and the funding available from Measure ‘Q’ and other potential sources.
What is liquefaction, and how can it be addressed?
Liquefaction occurs 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 USGS.gov). Various engineered solutions can address soil conditions that foster liquefaction. For buildings, the installation of underground reinforcing pier structures and soil mixing with concrete are most common.
What is the cost of mitigating liquefaction?
The cost varies depending upon the size and construction of the structure(s) to be reinforced and the condition of the underlying soils. The initial cost to mitigate liquefaction at Sowers was projected to be in the $8-$10 million range.
Will the Sowers reconstruction project include a gym and STEM lab?
Yes, there will be a gymnasium and STEM lab at Sowers.
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 consider that the underlying soil will require mitigation. However, because these buildings still need to be put 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 designed is estimated to be ~$1.7 million.
What is the cost of the reconstruction using modular classroom buildings?
The reconstruction plan 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.
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 typically installed on a raised foundation. Reference the video above for a sneak peek of the Sowers modular classroom building installation.
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.
Will students be on campus in portables during construction or temporarily moved to a different site?
New construction will allow students to be in the existing permanent building until they move into the new campus in a phased approach.
Home economics and science courses require plumbing and sometimes gas lines. Will the modular buildings have this as well?
The AMS Gen 7 modular buildings the District selected are designed to accommodate home economics and art in the exact same manner as a traditional building.
Will natural light be added as part of the reconstruction project?
Yes, natural light will be an extensive design feature in reconstruction.
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.
Will the modular construction process include the existing elective and special education classrooms?
Yes, the same classroom facilities currently offered at Sowers MS are anticipated to be part of the new construction.
Will outdoor seating/social spaces be added to 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.
Where will the bus yard be located if included in the reconstruction process?
The new construction design 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 yet to determine if it will be built at this time.
What is the reconstruction project timeline?
For more information on the timeline for Phase I, please refer to the August 15, 2023 presentation.
Did community members have an opportunity to offer input on the design plans?
The Board held numerous study sessions, conducted public information sessions, and 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, 2021, Study Session and before the Board considered a decision on October 19, 2021. The Board approved the final conceptual designs at the October 19, 2021, Board meeting.
When did the Gisler site sale finalize?
The sale closed escrow in May of 2022.
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 on the surrounding areas by allowing more cars to be on the site and flow more freely off and on the campus.
Will the reconstruction project affect the city park along Indianapolis (Sowers Park)?
No, the city park will not be disturbed during the Sowers Reconstruction.
Will the Sowers fields be accessible by the reconstruction project?
Yes, the fields will remain open, but reconstruction teams will intermittently utilize sections of the fields. All areas affected by the reconstruction will be secured with fencing.
When is construction starting?
The reconstruction project started in fall 2022.
Will the new Sowers site install and utilize solar panels?
The Sowers site is designed to be "Solar Ready" from the outset, with the potential to incorporate solar energy solutions later. The decision to implement solar power will be carefully assessed for its economic feasibility, weighing the associated costs and benefits before any such installation occurs.