Some major projects have gotten started at campuses in the Escalon Unified School District over the summer … and a couple significant efforts will continue even after classes start.
The 2019-2020 school year begins on Wednesday, Aug. 7 – next Wednesday – with classes resuming for all students.
Escalon Unified School District Superintendent Ron Costa said a couple of administrative changes have also taken place, with former Vista High School principal George Megenney moving to take over as principal at Collegeville and Farmington. He replaces Dawn Webster, who left for a position in a different district. Taking over the Vista High principal post will be Gustavo Arzac, formerly a teacher at the high school.
Major changes to start the year are the relocation of Gateway Academy, the charter school, to the former Head Start site on Van Allen Road, behind Van Allen Elementary School. That is a two-fold project, said Costa, as the vacated charter school area on the Dent Elementary campus will be utilized by fifth graders to start the year. That’s because of a modernization project at Dent that will see improvements to the fifth grade complex at the Yosemite Avenue campus. Gateway, which is seeing significant growth, had also outgrown the Dent location, noted Costa, with two classrooms and a bathroom facility added to the former Head Start complex to accommodate the Gateway students.
At Dent, the first phase of the modernization project includes installation of a new parking lot and student drop off zones, a new bus loading and unloading area, an office addition with a relocation of campus access and the upgrading of the fifth grade complex, the multi-purpose room and the cafeteria/kitchen area.
“The work is projected to take eight months,” Costa said, with the board approving the bid from C.T. Brayton and Sons at the July 2 board meeting.
A shorter time period is anticipated for the parking and bus loading portion of the project, with completion hoped for by October. Until then, the parking and bus loading zones will be along Yosemite Avenue for Dent.
“The remainder of the project, that really doesn’t end until April,” Costa said.
In the interim, all students will be using the primary cafeteria on the Dent campus.
Cost of this phase for the modernization is $8.1 million for the construction only, with the money coming from a 2012 bond passed by district voters.
“This will be short term inconvenience for long term ease and long term benefit,” Costa said. “When we’re done, we’ll have beautiful new classrooms, a beautiful new stage, a state of the art kitchen.”
Other phases are scheduled to include new classroom construction, improving the playground area and demolition of some of the 1940s buildings on campus.
Also this summer, work has been started to dig a new well at the Van Allen Elementary site which will serve a dual purpose, providing potable water at the elementary school and serving as back up for the Gateway Academy. Van Allen had been using the well at the former Head Start site and Costa said having two operating wells will provide more flexibility and a safe, secure supply of drinking water on site for students.
New this school year as well, a new logo for the district, chosen by the school board following a contest last school year.
The logo, half tree half book with the words ‘Cultivating our community. Growing our future.’ is actually a compilation of a couple of different entries, Costa noted.
Prior to the opening of school on Aug. 7, the district had its annual Leadership Retreat on Thursday and Friday, July 25 and 26, developing the district’s mission, vision and values and new teacher orientation is scheduled for Friday, Aug. 2.
The All Staff meeting will be at El Portal Middle School on Monday, Aug. 5 with the staff work day and barbecue on Tuesday, Aug. 6.
“Wednesday, we hit the ground running,” Costa said.