LTUSD schools start new yar |

LTUSD schools start new yar

The buzz of the carpenter’s saw accompanied the wail of the school bell Monday as South Tahoe Middle School students filed into a construction zone for their first day of class.

Almost $3 million in upgrades – remodeling of five classrooms, two rest rooms, administrative offices, counseling and attendance areas and the main entryway – were granted to South Tahoe Middle School through bond Measure C funding.

“We definitely had some inconveniences – our (middle school) offices are not open yet and temporary offices had to be set up in the library and in a couple of classrooms – but school is functioning fine,” said Steve Morales, facilities director for the Lake Tahoe Unified School District.

Morales said he expects the remodeled classrooms to be open by the beginning of October; middle school administrative offices will be ready as soon as next week.

In May 1999, district voters passed the bond measure to finance renovation projects at the district’s aging facilities, some of which are more than 40 years old.

Work began May 15 of this year at the middle school but completion of the projects was delayed because of a change in requirements from the state architecture office. First day of class was pushed back one week while the school district rushed to meet construction deadlines.

It didn’t quite make it.

Meanwhile, students found their way through the unfinished entryway; parents went to the library for first-day registration and some teachers had to put the finishing touches on their classrooms while school was in session.

“They remodeled it and they did their best but it wasn’t quite done,” said Special Education teacher Kim Stephenson. “When it’s finished, I’ll be much better able to meet a wide range of disabilities – the program is going to improve greatly.”

A new kitchen and a bathroom remodel have been added to Stephenson’s room. Heaters have yet to be installed.

But the construction isn’t all to blame, said Principal Mike Greenfield.

Greenfield said some of the first-day confusion is unavoidable, with or without swinging hammers.

“The main inconvenience was the fact that we had so many kids who hadn’t had their hepatitis B shots,” he said. “We tried calling all the parents a week-and-a-half before school started to warn them but we still had about 100 students who didn’t have the inoculation.”

School Nurse Mary Burns said the vaccinations are required for kindergarten and seventh-grade students.

About one-fifth of the middle school’s seventh-graders were sent home to get the vaccination or the records that proved they had the shot.

“California law says that it has to be done before we can enter them,” Burns said. “Hepatitis B is a deadly disease – it will cause cancer or death, it’s that deadly.”

Greenfield said the second most worrisome and predictable problem was first-day traffic.

“Two to three times as many parents drive their kids to school on the first day,” he said. “We got on the buses to talk to the kids to tell them about room number changes but the buses were half empty, and they are usually really full.”

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