By SUNNY LOCKWOOD
While students and teachers enjoy a few weeks of summer vacation, two Vallecito Union School District elementary schools are undergoing renovations that will turn them into like-new structures.
The classrooms, hallways, bathrooms and libraries in Murphys' Albert Michelson Elementary and Arnold's Hazel Fischer elementary schools are being totally remodeled to bring the buildings up to fire and safety codes, said district Superintendent Michael Chimente.
"We already have a quality teaching staff, quality administrators and classified personnel and supportive parents," he said. "This is the icing on the cake. It shows how much the district appreciates students and staff."
He said the district has delayed the start of school one week because of the remodel work.
"We wanted the upgraded power to be on and the kitchens functioning," he said.
Hazel Fischer has about 230 students and 13 teachers, and Albert Michelson has about 330 students and 17 teachers. When students and faculty return Aug. 27, the extensive remodeling work will still be under way, so classes will be held in portable and temporary rooms. If all goes according to plan, construction should be finished by mid-November.
Until the renovations are complete, students in kindergarten through third grade will share a portable classroom at each campus, and the fourth and fifth graders will also attend class in a portable.
"But there's a ton of work to do to set up the computer rooms, the libraries and classrooms," Chimente said. "We plan to be ready for the classes when students return from Christmas break."
He said 80 percent of the remodeling funds have come from the state and in 1997 district voters approved a bond issue that will cover 20 percent of the remodeling costs.
According to Chimente, Michelson has received $966,240 in state funding, and Hazel Fischer has received $806,995 in state funding for the remodeling work.