It's a year on the outs for Little Leaguers, but for Hart-Ransom schools, it's a grand slam.
"We've been planning this for 20 years," Hart-Ransom Union School District Superintendent Ream Lochry said Thursday, smiling. "It's an expansion of the campus — not because of enrollment. Just because we need better facilities."
Hart-Ransom Elementary School, at Shoemake and Dakota avenues near Modesto, serves 710 students. The district also has a charter school serving 280 home-schooled children. Dropping enrollment is not a problem here, he said, where 30 percent of the student body is made up of transfers from other districts.
"We have waiting lists at some grade levels," he added. He credits generations of community involvement, high student achievement and the serenity of its country setting.
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That country setting isn't all peaches, however. Construction costs more because of the rural setting. A new well and septic system were needed for the new buildings.
The project's building budget is $7 million. Measure G, approved in 2007, will pay $3.9 million of that, with state matching funds making up the rest, Lochry said.
The groundbreaking was Thursday. But there already was a big-jawed tree-puller clearing the way.
Envisioning the future
Standing in the shade of aged trees about to be pulled out, facing the bright red "snack shack" about to be pulled down, Lochry pointed past the baseball diamond at the weeds beyond. "That's where the charter complex will be and over closer to the school, that's where the multipurpose room will go," he said.
Work is scheduled to take a year, and the baseball field slated for demolition Monday will end up a parking lot. But come July 5, 2011, Lochry said, there will be four new fields to replace it. A new snack shack will have to wait for Little League donations, he said, but the cement pad will be there.
Two of the new ball fields will have berms allowing them to be combined as a soccer or football field. The multipurpose room will replace the cafeteria where parents crowd into the door to watch basketball games.
"It's going to be a cafeteria. It'll have a gymnasium. It'll have bleachers and a stage. It's gonna be great," Lochry said.
Next to the gym-slash-everything-else building will be a block of six modular classrooms for the charter school. The addition will allow the school to offer electives on site, rather than renting facilities in town — a home-field advantage, you might say.
Bee education reporter Nan Austin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 578-2339.