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Location: 9 Lagunitas Road, Ross, 94904

Website: www.rossschool.k12.ca.us

Owner: Ross School District

Developer: Wright Contracting, Inc.

Description: The newly renovated Ross School now sits five feet higher than in 2006, beyond the reach of flooding that reached the school that year. The school received a number of technology improvements during the project and a 12,500-square-foot multipurpose facility that it will share with the city.

Completion: Dec. 5, 2011

Architect: Quattrocchi Kwok Architects

General contractor: Wright Contracting

Engineer: ZFA Structural Engineers

Project cost: $18.2 million

ROSS -- Construction officially wraps up today in the  renovation of Ross School, a project that included elevating portions of the school by four feet to avoid flooding and the construction of a new “multipurpose room.”

The multipurpose room marks the final phase in the project, a 12,500-square-foot facility that will be available both to students and town residents.

At a cost of $7.26 million, the steel-framed building features indoor and outdoor elements, including a cafeteria, gym, theater and offices for both the school and staff from the town’s parks department.

The facility straddles the Ross Common, the town’s central park, adding to the public baseball fields and other infrastructure already in place there.

“The unique location of the building at the edge of a well-loved park in downtown Ross was leveraged to create a connection between the functions of the school and that of the greater community,” said Robin Stephani, director of business development at the project’s general contractor and developer, Wright Contracting.

Santa Rosa-based Wright Contracting entered into a “lease-leaseback” agreement with the Ross School District for the project. The approach differs from the usual bidding process in which many government entities are obliged to approve the lowest bid: advocates of the arrangement say it allows school districts to collaborate more closely with architects and general contractors earlier in the project, save costs, speed construction and encourage the use of local contractors and merit-based selection.

Described in California Education Code section 17406, a lease-leaseback contract allows a school district board to extend a “site lease” for a designed project to a developer-contractor, usually for just the statutory “rent” of $1 a year and without publicly soliciting competitive bids.

 The push for renovation of the high-performing elementary school began five years ago amid concerns of flooding. Three “100-year storms” have caused significant flooding in the town since the 1980s, including rising waters that flooded the Ross School in 2006.

After a first phase that set up temporary classrooms and other facilities, Wright began the work of raising the school five feet above the previous floor level, making it the nation’s first lifted school. Santa Rosa-based Quattrocchi Kwok Architects were the architects for the project, joined by ZFA Structural Engineers.

By phasing the construction and using the temporary school facilities, classes and other activities were able to continue uninterrupted during the work, Ms. Stephani said. The raising of the school, along with other related work, was completed in July of last year.

In total, crews renovated three existing classroom buildings and added two new buildings to the campus, said Mark Davis, president of Wright Contracting.

Phase two involved 45,000 square feet of new construction and modernization. The school received a number of technology upgrades, including a wireless and wired network, interactive white boards and a photovoltaic system that will offset 90 percent of the school’s energy use.

The entry to the school was also redesigned, replacing what Quattrocchi Kwok’s Amy Schaus said was a hard-to-find arrangement with a new “Entrance Rotunda.”

The entire project cost $18.2 million, assisted by a $1 million grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and funding from the Office of Public School Construction Facility Hardship, Ms. Schaus said.