The Hesperia Unified School District gets close to meeting its target dates on new construction, successfully building 179 portable classrooms over the course of four school years, but has sometimes missed its targets -- by a matter of weeks or months -- more complicated projects requiring multi-agency cooperation.

"Usually, the difficulty -- from my perspective in trying to get a project off the ground -- is in the different agencies we have to deal with," said George Landon, the HUSD's Assistant Superintendent of Business Services. His office assembled the data on recent construction projects in response to requests from the Hesperia Star. "Dealing with either the city of Hesperia, the county of San Bernardino ... the Division of the State Architect ... once we work through those issues, and get the bid out there on the street, usually once the board has awarded the contract to the lowest responsive, responsible bidder, for the most part the projects are being completed within the projected timeline."

Since the 2003-2004 school year, the HUSD has added 219 portable classrooms to local campuses to absorb a growing student body. The 39 being added to campuses this summer will be "substantially completed" prior to the beginning of the new school year on August 13.

"Substantially completed" is a construction industry term meaning more or less what it says: There may be a few remaining issues requiring work, but the buildings are finished, utilities are hooked up, and so on.

According to information from Landon's office, that's mostly what's happened with the HUSD's last three major construction projects.

Construction on Cypress Academy began September 27, 2004 with a planned completion date of August 21, 2005. Construction went better than expected and the site was usable on August 9 of that year.

The long-awaited Hesperia High School football stadium began construction on October 26, 2005 and had a target completion date of September 20, 2006. This time, the project ran into problems with the Division of the State Architect. In the end, the Scorpions played their first game on October 27, decimating Victor Valley High School, 42-0.

Sultana High School, which has already seen an explosion of portable classrooms, was to be the second HUSD campus to have a two-story portable. Construction on the new classrooms began on June 16, 2006 with a target completion date of February 1, 2007. This time, Sultana staff expressed concerns and put the breaks on the move-in by a few weeks, and the new two-story building was not occupied until spring break several weeks later.

But even with these delays, Landon said students always had a place to learn.

"For the last three years, there has not been an issue where we have not been able to house students," he said. "There has never been an issue, because that's always been our number one priority: to have kids in classrooms with an appropriate amount of chairs and desks. And plus the sites have always worked very well with the facilities staff."

The next regularly scheduled meeting of the Hesperia Unified School District is a budget workshop on Saturday, July 14, 9 a.m. at Sultana High School.

Beau Yarbrough can be reached at 956-7108 or at beau@hesperiastar.com.