Rowland Elementary Schools Get Facelift

PHOTO CAPTION: Erickson-Hall senior project manager Khary Knowles shows Killian Elementary School classroom improvements that are part of Rowland Heights Unified School District’s infrastructure modernization July 25, 2012. (SGVN/Staff photo by Leo Jarzomb)

Kids at Killian and Yorbita schools will return to newly remodeled classrooms on Aug. 20. Rowland Unified School District spent more than $3 million to renovate the two campuses in Rowland Heights and La Puente.

“The students will find new classrooms that are much quieter and energy efficient,” Assistant Superintendent Ruben Frutos said.

The renovations are the latest projects finished under the district’s $118 million construction bond passed in 2006.

The two projects came in 50 percent under the architect’s estimate of $6 million.

“We were very fortunate that the construction bids came in much lower than expected,” Frutos said. “We’re anticipating savings of more than $20 million from the bond that we’ll be using on future projects.”

During the winter break, students at the two elementary schools were moved to two empty campuses nearby. Then contractors gutted the old schools so they could update all the utilities before adding new insulation, walls and carpeting.

“The schools also have new computer networks,” said Khary Knowles, senior project manager for Erickson-Hall Construction.

Knowles pointed to 12 data ports scattered around one of the new classrooms.

“The ceilings have been constructed to hold digital projectors with screens hidden above the front of the classroom,” Knowles said.

Melvin Cortez was busy last week setting up the computer lab at Yorbita School in La Puente. The program specialist was installing some new computers.

“The new computers are much faster than the older ones, which have been moved to the classrooms,” Cortez said.

Knowles said teachers had requested more storage and wall space in their new classrooms. Architects responded by installing learning walls and tackable surfaces.

“The teachers love the learning wall spread across the front of their rooms,” Knowles said. “The wall unit gives them lots of storage space behind three moveable white boards. There’s also large closets on the sides.”

Opening a closet, the assistant superintendent found that one teacher had already begun putting her books away.

Frutos pointed out that the remaining walls are all tackable, making them immense bulletin boards. And he said the teachers appreciate how quiet the new classrooms are.

“The insulation not only makes the classrooms much quieter, they keep the temperature more comfortable,” Frutos added. “We’re already seeing a 5 percent drop in our utility bills at the other remodeled schools.”

Knowles said the new carpeting also helps absorb the noise in a busy classroom.

Only minor work remains to be done as the new school year approaches.