Los Gatos: Ground broken for bigger Lexington School
Sharon Noguchi | Mercury News | March 14, 2013 | link
LOS GATOS — In a ceremony some Santa Cruz Mountains residents feared they’d never witness, the Los Gatos Union School District on Wednesday broke ground for a rebuilt and expanded Lexington Elementary School.
The 1950s-era single-story buildings on Old Santa Cruz Highway will be demolished and replaced with three two-story buildings and two one-story buildings. Construction is expected to be completed in June 2014.
“I’m excited,” said Geri Markey, a resident of the mountain community of Chemeketa Park. “I’m looking forward to the school being built.”
Last spring, Los Gatos school board members prompted a community outcry when they suddenly voted to close Lexington because of seismic hazards from the San Andreas Fault — about a quarter-mile away. The board didn’t think the safety issues could be remedied. But later, the board reversed itself after state officials affirmed that a new campus could be constructed to withstand a magnitude-8 earthquake.
To meet requirements of the California Geological Survey, HMC Architects has called for fortified footings in buildings and more reinforced concrete and other safety measures, said Martin Fregoso, the school district’s assistant superintendent.
“We had to change the design of the buildings to accommodate the CGS,” Fregoso said.
The new campus could house up to 380 students, more than twice the current campus’ capacity of 150 students. The district is experiencing growing enrollment
and needs additional space, Fregoso said.The new stucco buildings, with metal roofs, will include 14 classrooms, a multipurpose room, a library, a small cafeteria and an administration building. The multipurpose building will feature a cedar exterior while other buildings will have cedar accents.
“I think it’s going to be beautiful. It will fit nicely into the mountains,” board President Tina Orsi-Hartigan said.
Lexington is the last of the Los Gatos elementary district’s five schools to be modernized. The promise of a new, earthquake-safe school is drawing young families to the mountain community, Markey said.
Although the estimated $22 million to $24 million cost exceeds the original estimates for the project, the district has enough in its 2010 Measure E bond fund to cover most of the amount, Fregoso said. The district expects to receive $1.4 million in state bond funds.
“We’re moving along carefully and watching the budget,” said Orsi-Hartigan. “We’re on budget so far.”
Work on projects slated for other schools will be completed with funds in the district’s capital reserve, Fregoso said.
Lexington students are being housed in portable and other buildings at Fisher Middle School until their campus is rebuilt.