It’s a Cinderella story for Gilroy High School, which is currently undergoing an extreme school makeover that will render the campus “a showcase for high schools in the area,” gushed Superintendent Debbie Flores during a recent school board meeting Thursday night.
After touring the construction site last week, the superintendent is raving about the “amazing transformation” set into motion by Kent Construction, a local Gilroy contractor working around the clock and on weekends to get Phase I of GHS’s facelift completed on schedule.
“The closest thing you get to building a new schools is when you reconstruct and modernize an old school,” said Flores. “And we’re doing it in 10 weeks – $5 million of work in 10 weeks. We’re really pleased about this.”
Back in February, the Gilroy Board of Education unanimously approved the allocation of $8 million through Measure P – the $150 million school facilities bond Gilroyans approved in November 2008 – for modernization and upgrades at GHS. Paired with another $3.3 million in state modernization funding and state-matched funding for Career Technical Education classes, GHS will get revamped to the tune of $11.3 million.
The overhaul will include a re-landscaping of the quad area; erecting an “amphitheater-ish terrace/pavilion” with graded steps and places to sit; redoing the gymnasium floor, restrooms and lobby; modernizing all existing bathrooms on campus; giving all the buildings and classrooms a cohesive color scheme; redoing the door locks; building aesthetic archways over campus entry points to create “a defined entrance;” and renovating the tennis courts.
Work has also begun on facilities improvements for GHS’s Career Technical Education (CTE) Biomedical Science Academy; a brand-new program that kicked off in fall 2011. Approximately $2.7 million in Measure P and state-matched funds will go toward transforming eight old classrooms into four new labs and two new classrooms for the program; a project to be undertaken by the San Jose-based firm Bill Gould Design & Architecture.
“The science labs will be much bigger (than at Christopher High School) and have great features,” said Flores. “We’re making them the most state-of-the-art science labs in the county.”
As for incoming complaints over GHS’s formerly blue rooftops – now sporting a fresh coat of tan-colored paint – the issue was brought up and discussed by trustees during Thursday’s meeting.
While some locals have expressed dislike for the new earthy hue, Flores explained the decision was made by a volunteer site committee representing diverse populations within Gilroy’s academic community. This includes parents, teachers, district staff and students.
“Sure, we have alumni that would like the roof to be blue, but this was the decision of the site-based committee,” she explained. “They wanted a completely new look for the high school, and yet still make that one Mustang blue color prominent throughout the campus.”
Flores also reminded that the construction project is only two-thirds done. More final touches are in the pipeline.
“I think change is hard for people, but this is what the site-based committee wanted,” she said. “The district stays out of colors.”
Anthony R. Palazzo, principal architect and director for K-12 Education Design at the PMSM Architect firm hired by GUSD to oversee the renovations, said the site committee “really wanted something that was more muted and just a little more earth-toned” to coordinate with the Student Services Center, which features prominent timber beams.
“That was really the basis (of their decision),” he said. “To make those roofs more neutral, rather than an element on campus.”
Check back later for an extended feature on the construction progress at GHS.