Gilroy Unified School District Superintendent Deborah Flores addresses the audience gathered at South Valley Middle School to celebrate the commencement of the school’s rebuild Aug. 26. Photo: Erik Chalhoub

Gilroy’s school board in the mid-1950s was relieved when they received a bid that was within their budget to replace the seismically unsound high school near downtown.

The bid was for $467,000, the only one under the budget of roughly $500,000, according to history compiled by current Board President Mark Good.

Today, though, that mid-century board would probably be horrified to see that the proverbial wrecking ball has come to the high school that was built with its hard-earned cash. But thankfully, students, teachers and staff are thrilled to see the dated structures at the now-South Valley Middle School be demolished to make room for a gleaming new campus filled with 21st century amenities.

The Gilroy Unified School District hosted a groundbreaking ceremony Aug. 26 to mark the beginning of South Valley Middle School’s projected two-year-long transformation.

The $90 million project, funded by the voter-approved Measure E bond in 2016, will be similar to the recently completed Brownell Middle School modernization but with features unique to South Valley Middle, according to Superintendent Deborah Flores.

The campus will include six classroom pods, with one designed specifically as a science lab, in addition to integrated outdoor learning spaces, a new administration building, media center, kitchen and more, Flores said. The main entrance to the school will be shifted from its current spot on the narrow IOOF Avenue to Murray Avenue, with a designated 450-foot-long drop off area and more than 100 parking spaces.

The quad will be designed in the shape of a tiger’s paw, paying homage to the school’s mascot.

Aedis Architects is the design firm, while Flint Builders is the contractor, both of which were involved with the Brownell project.

Work on the campus has been underway for a number of weeks, with crews grading the former field along Murray Avenue to make room for the new classrooms, while two buildings have been demolished and portable classrooms have been moved off-site.

Construction is expected to wrap up in late 2023. Flores noted that because the Brownell project was expedited due to students not being on campus during the pandemic, work has begun sooner on the South Valley renovation.

Associated Student Body President Eydee Hack said she participated in the committee that gave input on the school’s design. She said one of the main suggestions from students was to add more gender neutral bathrooms, which was honored in the final design.

“I am really excited about this project and can’t wait to come back in a few years to see the Tigers enjoying their new school,” she said.

Principal Guillermo Ramos said he was excited that South Valley Middle will soon be an “incredible modern school.”

“I’m so happy for our teachers and staff as they will have the most cutting-edge classroom environments and advanced technology that will help them make learning more engaging,” he said. “I’m also excited for our students because they will have a school that will make them even more proud of being a South Valley Middle School Tiger.”

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Erik Chalhoub joined Weeklys as an editor in 2019. Prior to his current position, Chalhoub worked at The Pajaronian in Watsonville for seven years, serving as managing editor from 2014-2019.


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