Changes ahead for Atascadero school

The Atascadero Unified School District broke ground Friday on a renovation project that will bring widespread changes to Monterey Road Elementary School.

“It really modernizes Monterey Road from stem to stern,” Stu Stoddard, the district’s director of facilities, said of the $8.2 million construction project.

Monterey Road Elementary’s facelift, which will take 15 to 18 months to complete, is the first major project funded by the $117 million school improvement bond measure approved by local voters in November 2010.

Among the changes planned for the school, originally built in 1961, are new sidewalks, new roofs and repaved parking areas. Classrooms will gain gabled ceilings with skylights, and a new heating, cooling and ventilation system.

The project also includes plans to improve handicapped access between classroom buildings and playfields, Stoddard said, while connecting Monterey Road Elementary, which previously used its own septic system, to the Atascadero sewer system.

“That’s a significant piece of work,” he said.

Still, district Superintendent Deborah Bowers said, the project isn’t quite as extensive as planned.

“There’s not enough money to do all the things at all the sites that we would’ve liked to,” she said, such as a lower parking lot that would have provided additional space for buses.

Atascadero’s Wysong Construction is slated to start work on Monterey Road Elementary today, with winter 2013 as an anticipated completion date.

Bowers said the school’s roughly 430 students will remain on campus during construction.

According to Stoddard, more school improvement projects are planned for the future — with work at Atascadero High School scheduled to start in March 2013, Carissa Plains Elementary School in June 2013 and Santa Rosa Academic Academy in January 2014.