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New high school campus construction continues

By DAVID SCHOLZ
Martinez Tribune

MARTINEZ, Calif. – The structural steel skeleton for a new high school is again rising on a Martinez site where 108 years ago the old Alhambra High School once stood. The project is back on track and moving full speed ahead after delays put the project on hold.

The new Vicente Martinez and Briones High School campus is taking shape along Susana Street in downtown Martinez. The campus is expected to be completed this fall. (GERARDO RECINOS / Martinez Tribune)
The new Vicente Martinez and Briones High School campus is taking shape along Susana Street in downtown Martinez. The campus is expected to be completed this fall. (GERARDO RECINOS / Martinez Tribune)
Entirely new facilities for the Vicente Martinez Continuation High School and Briones Alternative High School, representing 13,150 square feet, will eventually occupy the .70 acre site that also formerly housed the maintenance yard of the Martinez Unified School District. The new construction will include seven classrooms, a learning commons/cafeteria, serving kitchen, independent study and meeting space, and administrative area.

Late September or early October is the timetable for work to be completed. At that point, district officials will determine when students will move into the building.

“Although it would have been more desirable to have the students and staff moved into the new facility prior to the start of this school year, I am certain that upon completion we will have a smooth transition to the facility and the new school will be truly worth the wait,’’ said Martinez Superintendent CJ Cammack.

As about 114 Vicente-Briones students await the anticipated move this Fall, they will begin the school year Aug. 23 at the Martinez Adult School on F Street.

For an extended period, work on the school’s home along Susana Street was on hold due to an unforeseen concern over nesting owls. However, on May 17, the creatures fledged from their nest, which allowed the tree harboring the nest to be removed. Since then, Bruce Leslie, the bond coordinator for the district, said site preparation work moved forward at an accelerated pace.

Cammack was most pleased to see the rapid progress that has taken place in recent weeks after the challenges that went beyond the influence or control of district staff and the board of education.

“(All) remained focused on addressing each and every obstacle to ensure we provide this great facility for our students and staff of Vicente-Briones School,’’ Cammack said.

Retaining walls followed completion of site preparations, site utilities were placed, and then the layout of the floor plan was completed. Footings for the foundation were poured, and a week later 252 yards of reinforced concrete for the building pad were poured too.

Since early July, structural steel columns have been installed and this week installation of steel wall framing commenced.

This new high school is budgeted at $6.8 million. This revised amount, approved last September, is up from $5 million that the school board originally approved in 2012 for the project.

To help mitigate a lot of the costs involved with moving the new campus from its original site, the district has been awarded hardship funding totaling $4 million. Leslie noted that the bond team applied earlier this year for hardship funding from the Office of Public School Construction, and the State Allocation Board approved the district’s application. The district’s award will be funded as soon as the State issues new bonds.

“Our alternative high school and independent study program are very deserving of this great facility,’’ said Cammack. “I am pleased we are through the previous complications and moving quickly towards completion.’’

“Despite the delays, this school will be a wonderful example of the changing design in 21st century schools,’’ he added.

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