The renovation and modernization of Samo’s campus that Measure BB called for is underway, and the construction crews that started work in the North parking lot during winter break are beginning to construct the new combined Science and Technology building.
According to the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District (SMMUSD) website, the construction will begin by building one combined Science and Technology building on the current Softball field and removing the old Science and Technology buildings. The new building will contain, among other facilities, 18 standard classrooms, 15 specialized science classrooms and a new Auto Shop classroom.
“The first phase of construction began on December 21, 2011 with the demolition of the softball field and a portion of the parking lot, and the construction of the combined Science and Technology Building,” the SMMUSD Measure BB Projects Division said in a memo. “This portion of the project is anticipated to be complete in the fourth quarter of 2013.”
After the demolition of the current Science and Technology buildings in 2014, the area around the new Science and Technology building will be developed into a larger North parking lot, a new softball field and the “Centennial Plaza,” a welcoming space where students and staff can socialize between classes and during lunch, Director of the Projects Division and Samo alumnus Stuart Sam said.
“All of this will be complete in time for the fall of 2013, Samo’s 100th anniversary on the Prospect Hill campus,” Sam said.
According to SMMUSD, the south gym will also be replaced with an advanced athletic facility that will contain three basketball courts, a dance studio, a cheerleading gym and a deck on the roof where students can eat their lunch. The Greek theatre will also be renovated.
Junior Molly Curren is worried that construction will take even longer than predicted by the district.
“In the past, these types of projects have taken longer than planned,” Curren said. “Plus, I never see the construction workers actually working, and I have seen no progress so far.”
However, Dean of Students Catherine Baxter says that although the progress may not be apparent, the big changes are coming soon.
“I meet with [the workers] every day, and they are working every day,” Baxter said. “They are still procuring the materials this month, but we will see more after that.”
As construction progresses, Samo and SMMUSD still aim to provide a normal, unaffected educational experience.
“We will strive to create a comfortable environment for both the students and staff,” the Projects Division memo said. “Safety and learning will remain our top priority throughout each phase of construction.”
However, some students predict that the noise associated with a project this large may distract from their learning.
“I have a few tough classes right next to the North parking lot,” junior Matilda Mead said. “I don’t want the noise pollution from construction units further making lessons hard to understand.”
Latin teacher Luke Henderson is also concerned about the noise levels.
“My classroom is right next to the construction trucks and contractors,” Henderson said. “As the noise levels escalate, teaching a language oriented on listening and speaking is going to become much harder.”
According to Sam, the school is doing its best to prevent this from happening.
“Noise measurements were conducted in Spring 2011 to determine possible noise reduction measures for classrooms adjacent to the construction area. During the three-year construction project, the District will mitigate as much noise as possible that could potentially disrupt the teaching and learning environment,” Sam said. “Sound barriers will be installed along 7th Street, 7th Court, Michigan Avenue and the left field line of the softball field to help mitigate construction noise.”
The stairs on the East side of the Technology Building have also been closed temporarily in an effort to mitigate the noise problem.
Sam is hoping that, by the end of the project, all the work will be well worth it.
“As a Samo alumnus, I am very excited to see the project move forward,” Sam said. “The updates will provide Samo students with an environment for knowledge and hands-on experience so that they can excel.”