All Built Up and Ready to Go

Gone are upheaval and dust as construction at local schools comes to an end.

Photo by Mary O’KEEFE
After months of construction, La Crescenta Elementary School is wiping dust off new buildings and preparing to welcome students for the school year.


For students, school staff and parents, seeing temporary bungalows and construction on Crescenta Valley campuses has become almost second nature. But as the new school year begins, students will be walking onto school grounds boasting brand new classrooms filled with the latest technology.

“All the staff is moved in and the classrooms are ready and approved,” said Jeff Bohn, construction project manager for Glendale Unified School District. “It is all in final cleanup.”

Bohn was talking about teachers and staff at La Crescenta Elementary School and the new classrooms that will be up and ready to go by the first day of school on Aug. 22.

The construction at La Crescenta Elementary has been going on for many months and those at both the elementary school and next door at Crescenta Valley High School have been very aware of the construction efforts on their campuses. Teachers were given a couple of weeks to get into their classrooms to set them up before the first child walks across the threshold.

“Typically, with the normal [schedule], teachers would start on Aug. 20 to get their classrooms together, but I am trying to give them as much time as I can,” he added.

The construction at La Crescenta, Lincoln and Fremont elementary schools and many other schools within GUSD was funded in part from the Overcrowding Relief Grant (ORG) Program that allows districts to reduce the number of portable classrooms (bungalows) and to replace them with permanent classrooms. Other funding came from Measure S that was passed by voters in 2011.

At La Crescenta Elementary, the construction replaced 14 portable classrooms with 16 new classrooms and, according to Bohn, the new building is actually a smaller footprint than the bungalows.

The playground is ready for kids as well with the installation of a new synthetic field.

“Everything will be [finished], inside and out,” Bohn said of the first day of school.

The inside of the classrooms have also been given an update.

“We added 8-inch monitors in the rooms,” said Steve Dickinson, chief business and financial officer at GUSD.

The classrooms have learning walls where teachers can present lesson plans created on their laptops and have them displayed on a monitor. Teachers will also have use of overhead projectors.

“They have microphones to hand around and pass to the students [when needed],” Dickinson said.

The teachers will also have microphones to use as well.

Fremont and Lincoln elementary schools had their new classrooms completed during the last school year. Residents may have seen some workers on the roof of Monte Vista Elementary but that was for regular maintenance, Dickinson said.

“We will be adding portables [at Dunsmore Elementary],” he added.

Dunsmore didn’t qualify for the ORG program because it didn’t meet the student population criteria. The school did have four portable classrooms added last year and two have been added this year. Synthetic turf has also been installed to that playground as well.

Changes will be found at the high school level, too.

“We are going to add bleachers and lights at CVHS [track and field],” Dickinson added.

The board of education approved a contractor to do a California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) study regarding the addition of lights and bleachers on the school’s track.

The school’s track and field was renovated in 2006. It was funded through a grassroots effort of community members who formed CV CAN, and a generous donation by Susan Osborne and her family. At the time, there was talk about adding lights and stands, but it was put on the back burner as the focus stayed on renovating the track and field. In 2015, the field was renovated and, recently, another grassroots effort brought the subject of lights and stands back to the GUSD board. The stands and lights would allow CVHS sports, like football games, to be played on Falcons’ home turf. The team games are currently played at Glendale High School. It would also save the school money in the long run because the school rents stands for commencement ceremonies and has to pay to transport teams to play at Glendale High.

Dickinson and Bohn said lighting technology has changed quite a bit in the last 12 years. Today’s stadium lights are more focused and do not have the large volume of light spill into nearby neighborhoods – a point of contention in the past.

The CEQA study will take three to six months to complete. After the study is done the district will then hold community meetings to get input from residents.

The GUSD board has approved a future project for a new career tech educational building at Clark Magnet High School. That project is about two years away.

The district is also adding more security cameras in schools including at elementary schools.