Pleasanton Weekly

News - August 31, 2007

Over $8 million spent on public school improvements

High schools receive Students greeted by updated campuses last week

by Emily Atwood

For those going back to school this week, many encountered a changing face of the campus. Major construction work that cost $8.8 million in order to improve Pleasanton Unified School District facilities was completed this summer.

Seeing the most changes were Foothill and Amador Valley high schools. The biggest projects were the addition of science classrooms. Designed Building Systems, Inc. was on budget and ahead of schedule as they added 3,606 square feet of lecture and lab space for Foothill and 4,560 square feet to Amador. The combined cost for both projects was $4.01 million.

Superintendent John Casey said there's a big push for science classes in high school since algebra is now taught earlier and college require more science credits.

Also recently completed at both high schools are ceramics classrooms, which cost a total of $664,000. The program's popularity increased to require second additions at both high schools. At Foothill, a digital photography class was offered for the first time, so the second ceramics room took over the old film photography room. An additional gas kiln and electric kiln and a Raku kiln were added inside an enlarged masonry block just outside the classrooms. Art and social studies classrooms were moved to give Amador the space for ceramics. There an additional gas kiln was added inside an enlarged masonry block outside of the classrooms.

Jim Ott, school board president, noted that in the digital age, the growing popularity of ceramics shows that kids "still want to get their hands dirty."

The catering class at Amador has also grown in popularity. Modeled after the successful program at Village High School, students learn how to prepare and cook food and often sell their work to the school staff. A modernization of the home economics facilities was completed in January. Updates included a second cooking class with a commercial stove, remodeling of the existing home economics classroom and a separate sewing classroom.

The majority of the food service improvements at Foothill were completed last spring, but students now have a comfortable place to eat with the addition of the shade structure. The massive metal and blue canvas structure covers tables in the courtyard by stretching 30 feet by 90 feet.

New Principal John Dwyer said everyone really enjoys it because it's the first campus fixture to showcase the school's colors.

At Donlon Elementary School, fences still line the 9-acre fields that connect the back of the school with the outlying residential community. The school board trustees joked that before renovation began, kids would get lost in the hard, clay soil cracks. With improved soil and drainage and an upgraded irrigation system, the new grass field needs more time to deeply root. The project was a $1.2-million joint effort by the city and school district. While it may look more than ready to use, it will only be open for school use starting this week. The public will be able to enjoy it once the fences come down, which is scheduled for next spring.

Also included in the facilities updating at were repaving and repainting the visitor parking lot and a roof replacement at Foothill paid for with deferred maintenance funds. Hart Middle School's library also needed remodeling as it couldn't accommodate all of the students. This and most of the projects were funded by capital facilities (developer) funds.

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