Finishing touches are being placed on Lucas Elementary School, the first of three additional elementary schools soon to be opened by the Ceres Unified School District.
"We have a lot going on," said Steve Fabela, CUSD's assistant superintendent of Business Services.
Located at 3500 Rose Avenue just west of Mitchell Road, Lucas Elementary School will open its doors on Aug. 14.
Construction on the $24.4 million dual-language academy started a year ago.
A total of eight classrooms, four for kindergarten and first grade, along with a cafeteria/multi-purpose room will be used during the school's first year of existence.
Approximately 184 students were enrolled as of Monday in a first-ever dual immersion program where students will learn Spanish and English at the same time.
Bruns-Belmont Construction did the site work at Lucas Elementary. Saramark Inc. will complete the construction of buildings.
"The architect and contractors have done a wonderful job," said Jay Simmonds, assistant superintendent of Student Support Services for CUSD. "The school (Lucas Elementary) will have 34 classrooms when it's done."
Two new magnet schools, Patrica "Kay" Beaver Elementary and Walt L. Hanline Elementary, are slated to open in the near future on Central Avenue.
Beaver Elementary ($22.7 million) will open in 2014-15. The school is located on South Central Avenue just north of Grayson Road.
Hanline Elementary is costing $21.6 million and will be completed no later than 2015-16. The school is being built next to Central Valley High School on S. Central Avenue just south of Service Road.
CUSD will use state hardship funding to pay for the construction of Lucas, Beaver and Hanline schools.
The district received matching funds from the state to complete phase one of the Caswell Elementary modernization. The $6.2 million project, which consists of constructing a two-building 10-classroom addition, will be completed by March at the earliest.
Caswell's parking lot will also be expanded and opened for use this fall.
"We're doing site work right now to prepare for the two buildings," Fabela said. "Once those are completed, we'll remove some portables from the school."
The Walter White Elementary kitchen remodel, a $500,000 projected funded by Child Nutrition, will be finished prior to the start of the upcoming school year.
"We want to make sure our staff and students have a good place to learn," said Fabela. "The leadership of the district looked ahead. That's huge."
Simmonds said he's seen a lot of positive changes within CUSD since he began his employment there 23 years ago. Since 2002 he has been instrumental in helping to build Central Valley High School, Cesar Chavez Junior High School and five elementary schools - Berryhill, Sinclear, Adkison, Hidahl and La Rosa.
A number of school sites have been transformed with modernizations and additions during that time.