Education

Oceano Elementary’s $5 million face-lift approved by Lucia Mar school district

Caroline Inouye leads her first- and second-grade students into a portable classroom at Oceano Elementary School on Friday, Feb. 24, 2017. Lucia Mar Unified School District is kicking off a $5 million upgrade project at Oceano Elementary School.
Caroline Inouye leads her first- and second-grade students into a portable classroom at Oceano Elementary School on Friday, Feb. 24, 2017. Lucia Mar Unified School District is kicking off a $5 million upgrade project at Oceano Elementary School. dmiddlecamp@thetribunenews.com

Lucia Mar Unified School District has taken its first steps toward a $5 million face-lift at Oceano Elementary School.

The district recently approved funding for the South County school to begin the first phase of a three-phase rehabilitation project that will modernize the campus, said Andy Stenson, assistant superintendent of business services.

Funding for the project comes from the district’s $170 million bond measure that voters passed in November.

In the first phase, the district will rip out the school’s existing utility systems (gas, water, sewage and electricity) and replace them with upgraded versions.

“It’s like building a house,” Stenson said. “When you start building a house, you start by putting in the utilities.”

The district will then advance to phase two, Stenson said, replacing eight of the school’s portable classrooms with permanent classrooms.

“Portables really give us the worst headaches,” he said. “Especially when it rains and they leak — or when vermin hide underneath them.”

The school also will relocate its four kindergarten classrooms so that they are next to one another. The rooms are now spread across campus, contrary to common procedure at other elementary schools.

It’s going to be a very big summer for us.

Andy Stenson, Lucia Mar Unified School District assistant superintendent of business services

Both of those phases, which together are estimated to cost about $5 million, are expected to begin in earnest this summer and potentially be completed within the next two years, he said.

The third and final phase for Oceano Elementary will be a yearslong commitment to modernize existing campus buildings and classrooms. In some instances, this will mean replacing wall coverings, windows, doors and hardware, Stenson said, as well as other cosmetic improvements.

All together, construction at the school over the next decade could cost between $9 million and $10 million, Stenson said.

Though Oceano Elementary is one of the first massive capital projects officially approved to start construction since the passage of Measure I, more are on the way.

Stenson said he will bring forward plans at the March 7 district board meeting for an agriculture classroom expansion at Nipomo High School and a $5 million construction project for Judkins Middle School in Pismo Beach. The latter would build 10 permanent classrooms, and redo and expand the campus parking lot.

Those also could commence this summer, he said, meaning the district will have at least three major capital projects in progress during the summer months.

“It’s going to be a very big summer for us,” he said.

Kaytlyn Leslie: 805-781-7928, @kaytyleslie

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