By SCOTT PESZNECKER
Students in the Vallecito Union School District's two elementary schools will find themselves in portable classrooms come September.
That's because renovation work at Hazel Fischer Elementary School in White Pines and at Albert Michelson Elementary School in Murphys will shut down permanent classrooms on both campuses through the end of October.
The renovations will bring the schools into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. Work also will involve revamping the schools' electrical systems, restrooms and classrooms.
"It's a wonderful investment not only in the students' education, but in the preservation of our buildings," said Michael Chimente, Vallecito district superintendent.
The $1.7 million renovations will be largely paid for by state modernization funds. Any public school at least a quarter-century old is eligible for modernization funding. The district was awarded the state funds in December.
The district will pay 20 percent of the renovation costs with funds generated by a bond issue passed in 1997.
"The whole purpose of modernization is to take buildings built 25 years ago and bring them up to standards so they can last another 25 years," Chimente said.
At last week's district board meeting, the board signed Sonora-based Leslie G. Delbon Co. Inc., the low bidder among four companies, to do the work at both schools.
Chimente said work will begin Monday, June 9, and wrap up by Wednesday, Nov. 5.
Students will be moved into portable classrooms on each campus until work is complete. The district must spend $40,000 to bring four extra portables to the Murphys campus. Hazel Fischer already has eight portable classrooms, which Chimente said is enough.
Each portable can hold 48 people, according to state fire codes.
Restrooms at each school must be made handicapped accessible. Doors will be widened, and wheelchair-accessible stalls will be built.