School days will be cool days at several more LBUSD classrooms this fall

July of this year was the hottest month in recorded history for the planet, but here in Southern California, it’s been a relatively mild summer — that’s the difference between weather (mild this year) and climate (hot and getting hotter).

Air-conditioning is the most popular and most common way of adapting to high temperatures, and as school kicks in on Wednesday for most of Long Beach, a number of Long Beach Unified School District classrooms will be cooler, thanks to a continuing renovation project funded by Measure K, passed by voters in 2008, and Measure E, which was passed in 2016.

The two school bonds have been paying for overall improvements to schools, including upgraded technology and infrastructure, accessibility upgrades, electronic classroom projectors, new lighting, windows, paint and other repairs. But most noticeably to students and teachers is air conditioning.

Already, more than 13,000 students in 522 classrooms on 18 campuses in the district are benefiting from completed upgrades, according to district spokesman Chris Eftychiou. The most recent schools with new air-conditioning and other improvements made over the summer are Barton, McKinley, MacArthur, Burcham, Webster, Longfellow, Mann and Lowell elementary schools; and Jefferson, Keller and Lindsey middle schools.

Meanwhile, work continues at a few schools, with some grades at a few elementary schools starting the year on the road at off-site schools. Grades 3-5 at Naples Elementary will meet at Kettering Elementary School, Muir Elementary’s grades 3-5 will move to Webster Elementary and all grades at Alvarado Elementary will relocate to Butler Elementary. Bixby Elementary students will remain at their campus while it is being upgraded.

Estimated completion dates are June for Naples and the Alvarado projects and August 2020 for Muir.

Other improvements that will greet new students this semester are a new science building at the Sato Academy of Mathematics and Science and new stadium bleachers at Poly High School.

In the near future, the second semester at Jordan High will bring a new modern auditorium, library, administration building and two classroom buildings to the 27-acre North Long Beach campus as part of a $208 million renovation.

And work on a new building to replace the old 700 shop structure at Millikan High is underway and will include spaces to be used by various career and technical education pathways. The project is scheduled for completion in July.

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Tim Grobaty is a columnist and opinions editor for the Long Beach Post. He began his newspaper career at the Press-Telegram in 1976 as a copy boy and moved on to feature writer, music critic, TV critic, copy editor and daily columnist. He’s the author of several books, including I’m Dyin’ Here, and he lives in Long Beach.
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