Planada School District gets money from state to plan upgrades

09/01/2014 5:59 PM

09/01/2014 7:34 PM

Planada Elementary School is more than 60 years old and needs a major upgrade.

The State Allocation Board has disbursed $272,962 to the Planada School District, which can be used for planning a six-pronged list of upgrades ultimately totaling $17 million. In June, Planada voters approved the $1.5 million Measure O bond, which goes into the kitty for modernization.

The first of six phases outlined in a facilities master plan is upgrading the multiple-use room, along with technology improvement to the school.

Trustee Daniel Chavez, 68, attended kindergarten at Planada Elementary School and knows firsthand the need for upgrading at the 9525 E. Broderick St. campus.

“Things get old. In the summer, the multipurpose room is unbearable. The modernization plan will bring some equity to both sites,” Chavez said of the elementary and middle school campuses. “The middle school is not that old.”

Superintendent Jose Gonzalez said the district is in line to receive hardship funding from the state.

Gonzalez said the second phase of the facilities master plan is a new wing for prekindergarten and kindergarten pupils, followed by relocating the library media center and creating a replacement media center; upgrading all classrooms to 21st century standards, including handicapped access requirements; converting the old kindergarten pod into a new administration building; and converting the old library to a district office.

Gonzalez said Planada Elementary School was built in the early 1950s. It’s received only minor face-lifts and periodic repainting over the years.

Principal Richard Lopez is looking forward to kicking off renovation in late spring. He’s been principal there for eight years and helped develop the long-range facilities master plan.

“I’m excited, very happy that the community passed the bond measure,” Lopez said. “It’s due, oh, yes. It’s time for upgrades in the cafeteria-gym. The swamp cooler is going out and we don’t want to worry about the weather outside.”

Chavez said they want to change the school and modernize it but have been waiting for the state to assign money for planning.

The $272,962 from the State Allocation Board is part of $93 million to be used for more than 400 Emergency Repair Program projects statewide by 53 local educational agencies, said Tom Torlakson, state superintendent of public instruction.

Torlakson is a member of the allocations board that meets monthly to divvy up state matching funds for construction of new classrooms, modernization of schools and other programs to improve learning environments.

The Emergency Repair Program provides funds to reimburse school districts for the entire cost of repairing or replacing building systems, structural components or equipment that is broken or not functioning properly, Torlakson said.

Gonzalez said the state money will be used for architect’s costs, permits and approval fees charged by the Division of the State Architect, which signs off on new school plans. He conceded there is no state money now for school construction and funding could be years away.

When the work does begin, the big challenge entailed with the multipurpose room modernization will be finding suitable sites to serve breakfast and lunch to Planada Elementary School students while construction is underway, officials said.

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