At a time when public schools across California face severe budget cuts, there is still cause for celebration in the Lake Tahoe Unified School District, which held grand openings for the South Tahoe High School student union and the middle school's Mountain Vista building on Friday.
With the completion of the two buildings, there are only two projects left on the Measure G list. Since 2009, LTUSD has spent about $80 million on completed construction projects and Facilities Director Steve Morales estimated $18 million more will be spent before August of next year.
Faculty, students, parents, council members and other residents gathered in the new student union on Friday, a building - part cafeteria, part student hang-out, part high-tech classroom- that Superintendent Dr. James Tarwater said will be a hub for students on campus.
"It will be phenomenal. It'll be a step in the right direction, and it's making a statement. South Tahoe really cares about their kids and their community," Tarwater said.
Under a soaring ceiling and surrounded by high glass windows and a modern cafeteria that would make many university presidents jealous, upcoming STHS freshman Alec Jobbins and his mother, Renee, admired the facility.
"It's great. It's a lot better than it was," Alec Jobbins said.
At noon, the celebration moved east to South Tahoe Middle School, where the audience gathered on the new hard-surface playing area in front of the Mountain Vista building.
With 10 new classrooms behind her and nine basketball courts laid out before her, STMS Principal Beth Delacour expressed her enthusiasm for the facilities.
"I am the luckiest woman in the world to be working here at a time like this. Thank you for seeing this vision," Delacour said.
Construction continues at the STHS sports medicine building and Bijou Community School, with both projects slated for completion next year.