By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Junior high underway
Work is going full force on the east side of Ceres to get the $38 million Cesar Chavez Junior High School completed and ready for business for the 2011-12 school year.

Foundations are being poured on the 19-acre site at the corner of Whitmore Avenue and Eastgate Boulevard, very close to La Rosa Elementary School.

Named in honor of the late Mexican-American farm worker, labor leader and civil rights activist Cesar Chavez, Ceres' third middle school will open in 2011-12 with Jose Beltran as principal.

Having a third junior high school will assist Ceres Unified School District in trimming the size of student populations at existing Mae Hensley and Blaker Kinser junior high schools. Assistant Superintendent Scott Siegel said the existing junior high schools are too big for comfort. Ceres' junior high population is now at 1,800 with both schools roughly taking half. A third junior high means three schools of approximately 600 students.

According to Jay Simmonds, CUSD's Educational Options Coordinator and Facilities Planner, research indicates that the junior high age group experience bears a lot to do with the high school drop-out rate.

"School size really makes a difference in how connected students feel to school," said Simmonds. "We're of the belief that 900 is too big for those junior highs today."

The campus will consist of modular buildings, a cost-effective construction mode that was employed when CUSD built five new elementaries in Berryhill, Hidahl, Sinclear, Adkison and La Rosa campuses.

CUSD Superintendent Walt Hanline said that CUSD will carry out the commitments made under Measure U to create smaller learning communities at existing junior high schools, ensuring quality instruction, high expectations, and the development of positive relationships that enhance student success.

The district is also planning a 14.4-acre site for Lucas Elementary school on Roeding Road west of Mitchell Road and Walt Hanline Elementary School on a parcel on South Central Avenue immediately south of Central Valley High School.

State hardship money - given to districts which have reached their bonding limits - is expected to be coming in for the $15 million Hanline Elementary School near Central Valley High School and $12 million Lucas Elementary to be constructed between Roeding and Don Pedro just west of Mitchell Road.