When students return to Escalon High School in early August, they will see some significant changes. Not everything will be done ... but a large portion of summer renovation projects will be completed, providing a facelift for the campus.
“When I started here, eight years ago, there was a group of parents that came with some concerns,” said Escalon Unified School District Superintendent Ron Costa.
Chief among those concerns was the need for air conditioning in the main (new) gym. And that is one of the projects that is being worked on this summer. In addition, some new lockers are being installed, the bathrooms in the gym are being expanded to meet handicapped accessibility requirements and the large trophy case has been removed, to be replaced by a ‘viewing wall’ so people visiting the snack bar can eat their snacks and still watch the action in the gym.
“The locker rooms will be done by July 31,” Costa said of the timeline for summer projects.
The main gym, however, isn’t expected to be completed until mid- to late-September. Early season volleyball contests have been scheduled ‘away’ as much as possible and physical education classes will utilize the old gym until renovations are complete.
“It’s a very, very tight timeline we have given them,” Costa added of working with lead contractor, C.T. Brayton and Sons. “They have done a great job managing it to meet that timeline.”
The last two weeks of school saw the closure of the gym so crews could get started as soon as possible.
Also done already is demolition of the old student snack bar, which in the past few years had only been used for storage, and a newly redesigned quad will greet students when they return for the new school year.
Elsewhere, the music room is undergoing a complete renovation and the gym and music room are the major summer projects, costing an estimated $4 million.
Funding was included in a bond issue passed previously by school district voters.
“We’ll have air conditioning, ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) compliant bathrooms, new bleachers, which will also be ADA compliant and will have rows that you walk up instead of having to step on the bleachers themselves,” said Costa.
The entire high school is also being re-keyed this summer as an added security measure and Costa said the campus is humming with activity on a daily basis.
Around the multiple district sites, they have started preliminary work to upgrade the septic system at Van Allen Elementary and painting work is being done at Van Allen and El Portal Middle School gymnasiums.
“Another major project is we’re installing solar panels at all school sites,” Costa added. “Some will have ground mounted units in the corner of the property, while the high school, El Portal and Van Allen will have shade structures built with the solar panels.”
That will help the district see some immediate cost savings in energy bills, noted Costa.
“Every site is going solar, we will be saving money from year one and we’re anticipating saving in excess of $400,000 a year,” he said.
Next up on the district’s ‘to do’ list is a complete modernization project at Dent Elementary.
“Plans are being drawn, we would like to have them to the DSA (state architect) in six months,” Costa said. “That will be both a remodel and some new construction.”