By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
CUSD busy adding to campuses
Summer means vacation for students and their families but not for the construction crews working on a number of school improvements throughout Ceres.

A number of Ceres school sites are being transformed as part of an ambitious $60 million construction program.

The district has dedicated the $35 million Cesar Chavez Junior High School but yet to see students until August. But when students arrive they will see a new $3 million gymnasium under construction.

"We hope to have it finished for basketball season," said CUSD Assistant Supt. of Business Services Fred Van Vleck.

Supt. Scott Siegel said the gym comes last because of the issuance of state funding.

"If the state had not come up with its share we would not have had the money to do the gym," said Siegel.

Bruns-Belmont Construction of San Jose is doing the project.

Located on at Whitmore Avenue and Eastgate Drive, the new $35 million school will alleviate overcrowding at the Mae Hensley and Blaker Kinser junior high school campuses.

At the opposite end of Ceres, a two-story 16-classroom wing is being added between the multi-use and B buildings at Central Valley High School. The $10.8 million improvement will be completed in 18 months. The new building will house 400 students.

"We have had a significant gain of population there," said Siegel. "We look at our elementary (school) population and as they age we won't have enough classrooms it's time to make sure we have the room."

Even with the existing population at CVHS, Siegel said the "whole site was fairy impacted. We were just about using every room every period."

Siegel said while some neighboring districts are seeing enrollment declines, CUSD has seen increases.

"Our numbers are holding nicely."

Given that no new residential housing construction is taking place, Siegel theorized that either students are having larger families or families are doubling up in houses as the aftermath of widespread mortgage foreclosures.

CUSD is currently 100 numbers higher in kindergarten enrollment this far into the calendar year. Siegel said 885 are signed up with typically another 100 coming in between Fourth of July and Labor Day.

"At some point the economy is going to get better and then some of these approved construction projects are going to move forward and we need to be ready for that."

The district is involved in other projects:

Walter White

Work on the Walter White Elementary School campus will bring 14 new permanent classrooms to replace 14 aging portables at the southeast section of the campus. That project, as well as improvements for a parent drop-off lane and CUSD parking lot expansion, will result in the loss of the school garden. The garden will eventually be relocated, said Siegel, but the trade off will be a safer area for students to transition from car to school.

Ceres High School

A total of classroom wing of seven classrooms is being added to Ceres High School between the student parking lot and the swimming pool. Four classrooms will be standard and three are larger classrooms to be used as computer labs.

"Ceres High School is getting maxed out," said Siegel, "and there is a shortage of regular classrooms. Also this will allow us to be able to get rid of the portables. They work but they're not the best. They will be left in place and eventually mothballed but we'll leave them in place in case our numbers go up and we need them."

Argus High School

A total of four new classrooms is being added to Argus, the district's continuation high school. The building will be configured as a 2x2 building instead of a row and will be equipped with retractable walls so that the school can accommodate student and award assemblies and testing.

Virginia Parks

CUSD is adding three new classrooms at Virginia Parks Elementary School, two designated for kindergarten and one for preschool.

"That campus is pretty impacted," added Siegel.

Don Pedro

One of the oldest schools in Ceres - built in 1949 - Don Pedro Elementary School is receiving a preschool classroom, a staff room and a front office. The campus is also losing part of its grounds for a parking lot an a parent drop-off lane. Currently the campus is served primarily by street parking.

La Rosa

La Rosa Elementary School, one of the newest schools in Ceres, is being constructed with three new kindergarten classrooms and a library/office complex. The state did not have enough money to finish the "hardship" funded school so the school office has been using classrooms intended for kindergartners.

The school houses the district's K-second severely handicapped student program.