As we begin a new year, the Merced City School District would like to provide our community with an update on the major facilities projects that were completed throughout the year, as well as those that are still underway, and those that are next “in the queue.” This work benefits our students by giving them safe, modern learning environments, and we are incredibly grateful to the community for making many of these projects possible through support of Measure M.
Projects Completed Since Last Summer
Wright Elementary School Modernization (Funded through voter-approved Measure M): Crews have modernized 20 classrooms that were first constructed in 1946. The rooms have efficient new air conditioning systems as well as acoustical and lighting upgrades plus large magnetic display/white boards and updated projector systems to help make lessons more engaging. The library has also gone through extensive remodeling to become a 21st century space with updated furnishings, a “flex-space” collaboration room, improved lighting, additional bookshelves, as well as audio-visual technology upgrades. Other work includes updated restrooms and lighting, plus new drinking fountains.
Sheehy Elementary School Nutrition Services/Operations Upgrades (Funded through voter-approved Measure M): A new food storage area has been constructed behind the cafeteria to house an efficient new “walk-in” refrigeration, freezer, and dry goods storage unit within a secure operations yard. The improvements allowed the portable refrigeration units to be removed from the cafeteria, freeing up more space and eliminating the noise produced by that equipment. These changes have created a more enjoyable atmosphere for students, staff, and visitors during meal times and assemblies. The small parking lot behind the cafeteria was also improved with new spaces for individuals with disabilities, lighting upgrades, and repairs to uneven concrete surfaces. A new security gate has been added to the front of the cafeteria, and additional security fencing was installed to secure the areas behind the portable classrooms. These changes have enhanced both the safety and the overall appearance of the campus, along with the new security cameras and upgraded fencing installed since last spring.
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Cruickshank Middle School and Tenaya Middle School Re-Roofing Projects (Funded through voter-approved Measure M): These projects represent an important part of what Measure M aims to do, which is overhaul deteriorating infrastructure. The third and final phase of priority repairs has been completed at Cruickshank, including an upgraded rain-gutter system. The old gravel roofs have now all been replaced with a metal roofing system, which is designed to last for 40 to 50 years. At Tenaya, the second of three phases has been completed. The roofing over the gymnasium and half of the classroom buildings has been completely replaced. It has a bright-white “cool-decking” coating that improves the function and durability of the roof and will lead to significant energy savings.
District STEAM Center (Funded through the Local Control Accountability Plan): This state-of-the-art facility has been recognized as the only one of its kind in the state. The 5460 square foot building is located next to Ada Givens Elementary and opened in August. It gives all of the district’s TK-8th grade students an opportunity to experience integrated hands-on learning in the subjects of science, technology, engineering, the arts, and mathematics. It also allows groups of teachers to receive support and training in the most challenging curriculum so they can continue to expand their own horizons and bring that knowledge back to our 18 school sites. The entire design supports modern, interactive lessons that can be tailored to various age groups and class sizes.
Hoover Middle School Innovation/STEAM Classroom Conversion (Funded through the Local Control Accountability Plan): The original woodshop was built in 1950 and was no longer being utilized as it was in the past due to changes in the way students learn. It has now been converted into a multidisciplinary, flexible use space. It includes a collaboration lab for small group learning and new furnishings that accommodate modern instructional needs. This lab/classroom supports the same type of interactive, hands-on learning that is now happening at our district’s STEAM Center. It has deep science lab sinks, polished concrete floors that are easy to clean, and ceiling-mounted retractable electric cord reels that make it easy to plug in special equipment without creating a trip risk. The overall result is a high -tech space designed to inspire creativity, collaboration, communication, and critical thinking.
Addition of New Solar Arrays (Funded through Proposition 39, the California Clean Energy Jobs Act): Nineteen solar arrays are being installed at ten thoughtfully selected sites across the District. MCSD secured grant funding through the California Clean Energy Jobs Act (Proposition 39) to become a solar host. The goal is to save money on energy costs while also providing much needed shade around playground areas and additional lighting for some parking lot areas. The shade and lighting will also benefit community members who utilize school facilities. The sites where these arrays are located are: Hoover, Givens/STEAM Center, Chenoweth, Peterson, Gracey, Wright, Burbank, Sheehy, Muir, and our Maintenance/Operations/Transportation facility. The solar array adjacent to our STEAM Center includes a weather station, which students will be able to monitor as a real-world part of their curriculum.
Energy Efficiency Upgrades (Funded through Proposition 39, the California Clean Energy Jobs Act): Burbank, Gracey, Muir, and Reyes elementary schools will receive a total of 160 new air conditioning units and LED lighting upgrades as part of the Prop 39 grant funding. These improvements will make the campuses more energy efficient and comfortable for students and staff.
Wright Elementary Access and Site Improvement Upgrades (Funded through voter-approved Measure M): Work is underway on a new student loading-zone and parking area to ease congestion and improve safety near the front of the school. Crews are also putting the final touches on a new outdoor blacktop court area. The project provides significant improvements for individuals with disabilities, new sidewalks, parking spaces, and lighting as well. Other upgrades include the replacement of a deteriorating kitchen plumbing system plus many old gates and natural gas shut-off valves, and a large portion of the playground fencing. In addition, a fenced operations yard will secure waste dumpsters, storage containers, and a new garbage can-wash station making for improved hygiene, safety, and support for the cafeteria and custodial staff members.
Sheehy Elementary Student Services/Administration Office Modification (Funded through voter-approved Measure M): The main office area is undergoing modifications to offer staff the space and orientation to better serve parents, students, and fellow employees. Local contractors and vendors are participating in the project, which provides the school’s parent liaison with a private meeting space in addition to more privacy for the health services/nursing space, upgraded security for student records, closer proximity of the principal’s office to the school and office entrance, and the replacement of aging office furnishings.
Franklin Elementary Site Access and Preschool Classrooms Improvement (Funded through voter-approved Measure M): This project features two new preschool classrooms adjacent to an expanded parking lot and loading zone to improve the overall safety and accessibility at Franklin. The new classrooms will have upgraded technology, larger areas for learning center activities, as well as a modified kitchenette area where art and science experiences can occur. The project also includes a new turf playfield area and irrigation improvements, a larger preschool playground area with a tricycle track, new play equipment located under a shade canopy, drought-tolerant landscaping, upgraded lighting, and even a custom drinking fountain for our smallest students. Children will start enjoying these new classrooms after the winter break.
Projects Scheduled for 2018
Fremont Elementary Modernization, Access, and Operations Upgrades (Funded through voter-approved Measure M): This will be a major modernization/improvement project. Classrooms will be updated with efficient new air conditioning systems, interior finishes, and safety equipment. Acoustical and LED lighting upgrades, plus large magnetic display/white boards and 21st century projector systems will help make lessons more engaging. Sinks and drinking fountains will be upgraded to ADA standards. Casework, bookshelves, storage, and old flooring will be replaced. Five 1968 portables will be demolished and replaced with modern modular classrooms, and an interior courtyard area will provide needed improvements for outdoor gathering, learning, and other school activities. The project also includes re-roofing of the walkway canopies, as well as landscaping and irrigation improvements. The front entrance to Fremont, including the main office, will be relocated to the S Street side of the school (away from the busy R Street intersection), where a student loading zone and parking area will be constructed.
Tenaya Middle School & Rivera Middle School Innovation Lab/STEAM Classroom conversion (Funded through the Local Control Accountability Plan): The old wood and metal shop at Tenaya will be converted into a versatile space for STEAM-related learning experiences, as the building is no longer being utilized as it was in the past due to changes in technology and how students learn. There is additional outdoor space that can also be incorporated into the classroom environment. At Rivera, the old home economics classroom and adjacent small technology classroom will be integrated into an innovation lab and technology center. The new facility will be adjacent to the large central amphitheater, which also provides a space for outdoor STEAM experiences. Together, these two projects represent our district’s Local Control Accountability Plan commitment to 21st century learning opportunities for our students.
Hoover Middle School Student Commons Upgrade (Funded through voter-approved Measure M): This project is currently in the design development phase. It will address high use areas that need shade and infrastructure repairs where students eat lunch and should be enjoying more outdoor activities. The old ash trees in the area have either died, caused tripping hazards from roots damaging the asphalt, or become infected with mistletoe. The area is also in need of major drainage repairs. The project design includes a metal canopy shade structure with lighting for afterschool programs and safety considerations, as well as new trees and an upgraded and relocated garbage can wash station. The overall goal is to provide students with a cleaner and safer place to eat and socialize while creating an enjoyable space where teachers can conduct outdoor activities under a large shelter.
Replacement of 160 HVAC Units at Four Sites (Funded through Prop. 39, the California Clean Energy Jobs Act): Old, inefficient HVAC systems at Burbank, Gracey, Muir, and Reyes will be replaced with new rooftop systems. The heat pump units will also be replaced.
Rivera Elementary School Addition of Three Classrooms (Funded through developer fees): Three new modular classrooms will be added to the Rivera Elementary campus to support student population increases in the school boundary area. This will allow the district to accommodate more families at their home schools, minimize overflow bussing, and maintain appropriate class sizes. It should also be noted that the district’s Long Range Facilities Master plan does include the need for new school sites in the future. Therefore, the modular classrooms at Rivera will be placed in an area that minimizes the impact on playfields as they could be relocated off the site in the future.
Peterson Elementary Student Restrooms Upgrades (Funded through voter-approved Measure M): The restrooms will be renovated with new paint, lighting, partitions, sinks, toilets, and plumbing fixtures. Crews will also install efficient hand dryers that help to keep facilities clean as well as minimize operational costs from the waste and clean-up of paper towels.
Sheehy Elementary Student Restrooms Upgrades (Funded through voter-approved Measure M): Aging restrooms will be remodeled with updated wall and floor coverings, sinks, fixtures, plumbing, ventilation equipment, LED lighting, as well as new electric hand dryers.
In addition to all of these facilities projects, our district has a system in place for ongoing maintenance at each of our campuses. We’re excited about the work that has been completed so far and look forward to many more improvements to benefit our students, staff, and community in 2018!
Sara Sandrik, an Emmy Award-winning former journalist, is the public information officer for the Merced City School District. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.