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Hughson school makeover delays start of classes
• $3 million modernization project in motion
Hughson Elementary.jpg
Four main classroom wings at Hughson Elementary School have been stripped down and are being remodeled, which means school for K-5 students is being delayed until Sept. 4. The school year will end later in 2019 for those students.

The start of school is being delayed for the 550 students attending Hughson Elementary School due to an extensive $3 million modernization project.

The project calls for completely stripping down 19 classrooms in four main classroom wings for new windows, walls, cabinets, lights, flooring, air and heat, roofing, painting, and doors. The classrooms were last refurbished in 1986.

The classrooms are being remodeled in phases, called a “rolling modernization” as to not disrupt the entire campus at once. The first phase will be completed for the start of school and includes 10 of the classrooms. The second phase will complete five classrooms and a restroom by mid-September. The last phase will have four classrooms completed by the end of November.

“Since this is such a large project, we moved the start of our school year for Hughson Elementary and Fox Road Elementary preschool through fifth grade to Sept. 4 to give some extra time for the construction,” said Hughson Unified School District Superintendent Brenda Smith.

Typically Hughson schools start its school year on the same day. The change to the schedule means sixth-graders through high schoolers start school on August 13 and preschool through fifth-graders start three weeks later on Sept. 4. The district sent out information in December to explain the reason for the delay.

“Overall, parents have been very understanding and are looking forward to the improvements of the school,” said Supt. Smith. “We will return to a regular schedule for the 2019-20 school year.”

In November 2016, Hughson voters approved two bonds for the K-8 and high school facilities with several projects included in each bond. The Hughson Elementary School project also received modernization money from the state.  

“We are very excited about his project and are thankful to the community of Hughson for making this a reality,” said Smith.

Principal Brian Petersen said the project is a welcome site for the school campus, which dates back to 1954.

Work would have started sooner but there is a current shortage of labor to work on the number of school renovations in the county, said Petersen. He said a number of Modesto schools – including Downey, Davis and Beyer high schools – are also being renovated because voters there passed bonds too.

An eight-foot overhang was added to one classroom wing to give students a place to stay sheltered while transitioning into the classroom on rainy days. That meant the old sidewalk had to be removed and replaced to meet ADA standards.

“We’re doing the four main classroom blocks but then we’re kind of doing touchups everywhere to match the new buildings,” said Petersen.

Petersen said support for schools is strong in Hughson.

“Almost everybody that comes here or works here went here. So as far as them being willing to put their money on the line to spruce it up, they’re all invested and want it sustainable.”

Besides Hughson Elementary, the Hughson’s school district has Fox Road Elementary, Emilie Ross Middle School, Hughson High School and Billy Joe Dickens Continuation High School.

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A worker prepares to cut panels for the interior of classrooms at Hughson Elementary School last week.