Not much has changed at El Capitan Elementary School in Delhi since it was built 61 years ago – until now.
The campus at 10115 Fifth St. will gain a new gymnasium, multipurpose room and kitchen facilities in construction expected to be finished by the third week in November.
“It’s long overdue,” said Brian Stephens, Delhi Unified School District superintendent. “Our schools are old. I’m very excited.”
Zumwalt Construction of Fresno is building the new complex. The current cafeteria, old and small, was built in 1953. Stephens said administrators and trustees are looking at several options for the old cafeteria. It could become a library, but nothing has been decided.
Heather Contreras is principal of the school, which has about 430 children in kindergarten through eighth grade. She said many parents and grandparents of those students attended the Feb. 25 groundbreaking ceremony for the new complex.
“I’m so thrilled,” Contreras said. “We have not had a lot of updating for quite some time. I couldn’t be more excited. This particular project has been talked about for about 10 years.”
Contreras, who has been principal for two years, said El Capitan was a junior high school campus for many years before its current K-8 configuration.
Stephens said the $3.2 million earmarked for the El Capitan project is part of an $8 million bond, Measure E, which was passed in 2012 with 73 percent voter approval.
The 8,893-square-foot project will also have a stage, and all the facilities will be available for public use, Stephens said.
Trustee Vidal Preciado, who has been a board member for 13 years, said the project had been discussed for years and called it a dream come true for the community. The new building will make a difference in the school and in the surrounding area, he added.
Rod Sepulveda, job captain with BCA Architects of San Jose, said his firm studied the existing campus to ensure the new design would be a good fit.
“We instituted a very similar color palette and developed a design that was clean, modern and timeless,” Sepulveda said. “BCA selected interior finishes that will provide longevity and durability for extended usage by the district and the community.”
The school district engaged BCA to design a new multipurpose building that could provide larger space for students and faculty, including food programs, sports activities, and presentations and ceremonies through the school year.
The building was strategically located adjacent to parking to create a connection between the school and the community but maintain a secure barrier between the school’s play area and the public right of way, Sepulveda said.
“A new basketball court and stage are included in the new multipurpose room to provide a diverse set of options for students and staff,” he said. “The stage will offer a roll-up screen so the facility can show digital presentations and movies.”
Architect Paul Bunton said the new building is situated to create a community entry as well as a student entry, making it inviting for the public events.
The next project, probably to be undertaken in 2017, might be a vocational and technical building or modernization at the high school, Stephens said.