TURLOCK — Dozens of workers have spent the summer sweating on top of Turlock High School so its students won't break a sweat when they return next week.
A modernization project that includes refurbishing a gymnasium, new tennis courts and an updated performing arts center is on hold, pending the state release of matching money. But when the chiller system serving 35 classrooms failed again, the district decided to front the money — roughly $2 million — for that part of the project.
"You can only baby it along for so long," said Scott Richardson, director of facilities and maintenance for the Turlock Unified School District. "The classrooms being fed were disrupted. That's a lot of kids."
The district contracted with Acme Construction, which is on track to complete most of the work on the heating and air conditioning system in the allotted eight weeks. Some remaining roofing work can be completed while school is in session, Richardson said.
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"We had a very tight timeline," he said. "Acme put forth a great effort."
Work on four classrooms is a few days behind schedule, but it's easier to temporarily accommodate four classes of students than 35. Turlock High has 133 classrooms.
Students will notice some changes in the affected buildings. "Anytime you touch a building, you have to make it ADA compliant," Richardson said.
To comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act, doors have been altered, sinks lowered and the bathrooms remodeled.
But the biggest part of the effort involved the air conditioning, which students might not notice as they did when it failed.
Teacher Doug Cornfoot, setting up his special education classroom Tuesday, said he appreciates the work.
"It used to be you'd have to come in and turn on the air conditioning at 7 o'clock in the morning so the room would be cool at lunchtime," he said.
The heat in the summer and the cold in the winter made it more difficult for students to concentrate.
"The kids will definitely be a lot happier, not sweating or freezing," Cornfoot said.
As for the rest of the project, Richardson said the district hopes to make plans once the state releases its matching money (60 percent of the anticipated $14 million cost). There's no timeline for when that may happen.
"There will be a lot more done when we get the money from the state," Deputy Superintendent of Business Services Ed Felt said. "But this is a job that had to be done."
Bee staff writer Patty Guerra can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 578-2343.