Busy summer of expansion at Santa Maria area high schools

Santa Maria area HS summer construction

SANTA MARIA, Calif. - The Santa Maria Joint Union High School District is busy preparing to welcome more than 8,000 students back on campus in just a few short weeks.

Staff has been busy designing, improving and constructing new facilities.

"It’s great to see these projects come out of the ground,’’ said Superintendent Dr. Mark Richardson. “We look forward to seeing our kids working in these educational facilities.’’

At Righetti High School, steel framing and concrete pours continue on the nearly $22 million futuristic 38-room classroom complex that includes four classrooms that can be combined for a large area.
Buildings will be placed on the west side of campus. Construction on the project utilizes C-2004 Bond funds (General Obligation Bond Dollars).

"Summer is a busy time for us," said Danny Sheridan, plant manager for the district. "A lot of upgrades are going in, to our side of things, the IT side of things. It is a lot of work."
The campus expansion is being undertaken to increase permanent classroom capacity, eliminate portable classrooms, advance new technology and incorporate many learning tools from the district’s demo “Classroom of the Future”.

It featured moveable whiteboard walls, mounted big screen monitors with the capacity to display from the teacher’s tablet, desks and chairs on wheels that separate easily into different arrangements and other learning aids.

A large-walk in freezer is also being installed to hold food for more than 2,000 students and staff and portable classroom roofs are being replaced and energy-saving lighting is being installed.

On the Pioneer Valley High School campus, final approvals have been received from the Division of State Architects (DSA) and the final touches inside the interior of the high school's new Performing Arts Center are moving forward. The project should be completed during the fall.

The 16,411 square-foot structure includes three classrooms, a stage and seating capacity of 298. The estimated project cost is $9.6 million, of which $6.9 million will be the estimated actual building costs. The funding is through C-2000 and 2004 bonds.

Within the campus of the district’s oldest school -- Santa Maria High -- staff has begun crafting designs to prepare for construction of new buildings to replace ones from the 20's and 30's. About five of the older buildings will be demolished on the north side of the campus. Funding for this project comes from Measure H, which was approved by voters last year. There is also a paving project around the stadium and pool as well as an energy-saving lighting replacement project.

The district is gearing up to start construction in January on the Agricultural Education and Career Technical Education centers. The 25-acre property is located north of the Elks Rodeo Grounds and east of Highway 101. It's used for crop farming and was purchased for $3.6 million. The purchase utilized C-2004 Bond Funds. The centers will have a capacity of 400 to 500 students.

District-wide, solar power designs for RHS, PVHS, DHS and the district office are also moving through DSA. If all goes well, construction could start in the fall. The project, which will save $140,000 for the first year and about $7 million throughout 25 years, could possibly start in October and be completed by December.
The solar equipment would be placed in parking areas of the facilities. SMHS will receive the equipment after the new construction is completed.

Besides the construction, a lot of other work needs to happen before students head back to class. That includes cleaning, stocking, and double checking that every classroom is ready.

"There are lot of exciting changes going on at the school. I like it," said Righetti head custodian Leo Avila. "I'm excited to see what the new building is like."

School is set to begin and Santa Maria Joint Union High School students will return to class on August 9. 

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