It’s on time and on budget.
Those are words community members like to hear when it comes to projects under construction in the South Pasadena Unified School District.
Deni Valderrama, a project manager with Balfour Beatty, the firm responsible for building a new STEM – science, technology, engineering and math – structure on the South Pasadena High School campus, gave every indication the major project will be completed in December.
His audience was the South Pasadena Board of Education and those seated in the audience Tuesday night to hear a detailed update on the STEM building’s progress.
“He provided a status report on where we are with construction and what is scheduled to occur over the next couple of months,” explained South Pasadena Unified School District Superintendent Geoff Yantz. “Things are moving very quickly. They’re doing good work to finish the job.”
The project consists of six classrooms, including four science labs. In addition, there will be conference rooms, restrooms and a locker room for the softball team.
“We anticipate moving in over the winter break,” explained Yantz, “and potentially using the building in January for the start of the school’s second semester.”
In other board action:
Old Gymnasium Project
Balfour Beatty has also been selected to reconstruct the old gymnasium at South Pasadena Middle School.
The Board of Education has voted to retain the existing structure and gut the interior in order to re-purpose it into a black box theater and arts room.
When the project is completed, the school’s drama department, which currently meets in a classroom, will be able to use the theater space for instruction.
The project is expected to break ground in April 2019.
“It will be nice building when it’s done,” said Yantz. “It will be very useful.”
Employment Contract Extension
The Board of Education accepted and approved a one-year extension for assistant superintendents and the district’s executive director of student support services and provide a two percent salary increase. In addition, Yantz received a one-year contract extension with no pay increase.
Strategic Plan Update
The South Pasadena Unified School District holds a strategic planning session each summer at district headquarters to review its mission, core values and its goals.
Yantz said the session is designed to ensure the district is making progress.
“The Board of Education takes a look at the strategic plan to decide if there will be any modifications they would like to make,” Yantz explained. “Based upon that, the board had a follow up discussion [at this week’s board meeting] regarding the recommendations that were made during our summer strategic planning session.”
Discussed by the board were some proposals to change some of the language in the district’s mission statement and in one of its goals. Yantz said the changes “were nothing substantial, but very important that the vocabulary reflects the work that we’re doing.”
Yantz explained one of the strategic goal modifications is to have some language included that reflects “the work we do to provide social well-being and emotional support for our students,” he said. “It’s reflective in some of the work that is already happening and the work that we want to achieve in the future. Over the years we have added counseling support.”
It’s all in an attempt to ease the tension and stress in the classroom. “The general trend that school districts are seeing is increased expectations and competition. We as parents place on our children to do well. There can be issues with behavioral challenges that students have. So, we try to make sure we’re keeping an eye out for those who might be experiencing some anxiety or stress.”