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Keyes dedicates $2.2 million gym (not) at Spratling Middle School
It may look like a gym and function like a gym, but don't call Spratling Middle School's new 5,000-square-foot multi-purpose room a gym. The facility was dedicated Wednesday evening.

The $2.2 million facility will be used as a place to eat lunch, operate the after-school programs, host community activities as well as provide a place to play basketball and volleyball games. On Tuesday nights, classes are held there for the Parents Institute for Quality Education program.

Plans are being made to build a real gym at a later date, said Marianne Pietrzyk, president of the Keyes School Board.

"It's not in our immediate future," noted Karen Poppen, the new superintendent of the Keyes School District. "This school's going to have to double in size before we need a gym."

The community seemed impressive with the new addition.

"It's beautiful," said Tom Changnon, former Keyes School superintendent and current superintendent of Stanislaus County Schools. "They've been wanting this for a long time."

He said he was impressed when he walked into the building on Tuesday to see a student banner that read, "This is our house."

Spratling Middle School, which opened in January of 2002, was without a gym until August 17. Students had been eating lunch in a portable double-classroom building.

With the new multi-purpose room operational, the old modular structure is being turned into boys and girls locker rooms for the approximately 275 students who attend there. The old locker room is being turned into a computer lab.

The new multi-purpose room means that students will not have to go to nearby Keyes School for games and other events. A small section of roll-out bleachers will accommodate 50 to 60 spectators, noted Poppen. The building also features restrooms.

The building was intended to be built when Keyes passed a bond measure a few years ago. The money didn't go as far as officials had hoped. A second bond of $1.8 million was required for the building and other projects. The board plans to order a gymnasium and new transportation building. Relocating the transportation yard from Keyes to Spratling campuses, said Pietrzyk, will free up more parking at Keyes School.

The board's five-year capital improvement plan also calls for the modernization of the elementary school kitchen since the restrooms have been done. She said the charter school housed on the Keyes campus will need new portables to free up more parking.

Money from the Williams Act is expected to be spent on refurbishing the elementary school field, which is unsafe with uneven areas and holes. Water lines in the field will also be upgraded.

Poppen said the dedication ceremony was put off until custom pads - printed with the words "Spratling Wildcats" were in place. The district was also hoping to dedicate the new locker room, which is still awaiting approval by the Office of State Architect.

The Arrowhead Club presented volleyball equipment to be used in the new gym.