$32 million Atascadero Junior High modernization to begin in March
The school will become Atascadero Middle School by 2019-20 school year
The location of Atascadero Junior High School has long been at the center of discussion: should the school remain in the downtown core or be moved elsewhere? After many meetings on the subject with school and city officials, Atascadero United School District Maintenance, Operations and Transportation Director Stu Stoddard said that the district decided that moving the school to another site would be too costly. The project as it stands today is expected to cost nearly $32 million.
“Simply finding the appropriate acreage the state will accept is a very big deal,” Stoddard said. “Quite frankly, a junior high can be very beneficial to a downtown core — it brings a lot of people downtown every day.”
The modernization project, Stoddard said, will only demolish three buildings and remove four portable buildings, and renovated some of the campus, but some of it — Baro Gym and surrounding building that were all constructed in the mid to late 1990s — will generally be left untouched. The school’s current office will be demolished to make room for a two-story building that will house the seventh and eighth grades primarily and the school office.
“Albeit we cannot afford to build a structure that mimics the city hall, we can certainly build [one] that complements it,” Stoddard said, adding that the new building will have many of the architectural elements that are appropriate for the time period that the city hall was built in the early 1900s.
Construction on this building is slated to begin in March 2015 with the project completed in time for the start of the 2017-18 school year. Then the science wing, Building 200, and the original office, Building 300, will be demolished before work on the remaining building are started. The entire junior high school project is slated to be completed by the start of the 2019-20 school year.
When the project is complete, all local sixth graders will attend school at what will be renamed Atascadero Middle School. Stoddard said the district made the decision a few years ago to change from a junior high model to a middle school model, but the existing school will not accommodate the additional students. While a few sixth grade classes have gone to the junior high facility already, most of the classes remain at the elementary school. He said it is not yet know if the sixth grades from Santa Margarita, Creston and Carrisa Plains will join the middle school, though he said he thinks it is highly unlikely Creston and Carrisa Plains sixth graders will make the journey.
To prepare for construction, the office will be moved from its current location to Building 300 over winter break, so it will be up and running when students return to school in 2015. This modernization project is being paid for by the bond measure that was approved by Atascadero voters in 2010. So far Monterey Road Elementary, Santa Rosa Academic Academy, Carrisa Plains Elementary and Atascadero High School gym and girls’ locker rooms have been modernized. Stoddard said that San Gabriel Road Elementary’s project has been approved and in the works and Santa Margarita’s is up for approval at tonight’s school board meeting.
With the reauthorization of the bond in the 2014 election, the school will have more money available to do more modernization projects, including more work at the high school, which Stoddard said it needs. The projects are not under city oversight for its facilities, but rather are governed by the Department of the State Architect.
“It’s a signficant process,” Stoddard said, adding that they district is waiting for final approve from the state. “It takes time. The end result is a well thought out, well designed, well constructed project.”
Stoddard said that 75 percent of the construction labor is hired from within the county. The architect for the project is Ravatt Albrecht and Associates, Inc. One of the firm’s partners and the principal architect, Greg Ravatt, lives in Atascadero.