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Developers may help Liberty Ranch High School build stadium

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Posted: Wednesday, September 25, 2013 12:00 am

New home developers could ultimately pay for a lighted football field at Liberty Ranch High School in Galt, but it may take years for such a stadium to be built.

Until then, sports teams will continue to play games at Galt High School, and the Class of 2014 will likely head to Sacramento for its commencement ceremony.

That has yet to officially be decided, but for the past two years Liberty Ranch has held its graduation at Memorial Auditorium in Sacramento partly due to cost. Renting bleachers or chairs for both students and spectators and bringing in portable lights — since the ceremony is at night — would cost about $15,000, Principal Brian Deis has said.

“With the development around Liberty Ranch picking up again, we try to renew interest in capital projects and ask what is the priority for our district,” Superintendent Matthew Roberts said about the possibility of a new sports stadium. “I know the coaches and Brian (Deis) are passionate about getting that field done.”

A fully functioning sports field and all-weather track is estimated to cost between $5 million and $8 million. This would include bleachers, restrooms, fencing and a concession stand.

Having their own stadium could also boost student attendance at games, although that is already high, according to Deis.

The lighted stadium was in the original construction plans when the campus was built in the late-2000s, but it was removed due to funding.

At the time, the district thought developer fees from yet-to-be developed property around the school would pay for one, but when the economy took a downturn developers pulled out of Galt, like they did elsewhere in California.

Now, with an uptick in the economy, builders have resumed projects.

Among those are two dozen homes in a subdivision east of Highway 99 on Elk Hills Drive near Walnut Avenue, currently under construction by Beck Builders. The homes are generally in the 2,500- to 3,700-plus square-foot range, according to the city.

Officials in Galt do not calculate or collect school district fees; however, Community Development Director Sandra Kiriu estimated the city could expect about $37,000 in developer fees on the lots currently under construction.

The fee amount is based on the size of each home and whether it is in the School District Community Facilities District.

Roberts said the district is eyeing yet another residential development that could add 1,500 or more homes close to the Liberty Ranch campus. Based on Kiriu’s figures, that project could ultimately net more than $2 million for the district.

“The developers need to hear that the schools benefit from these projects,” Roberts said.

What about putting a new bond measure before voters to pay for the stadium?

Deis said informal discussions have been going on for a few years, but nothing concrete is in place.

Roberts, however, believes the school board is more focused on refinancing long-term debt than adding more.

In the end, he added, the district might look at improvements at Galt High School’s field and create a single shared facility.

Contact reporter Jennifer Bonnett at jenniferb@lodinews.com.

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