Construction workers lay boards for concrete to get Los Paseos

Backpacks full of books, homework and school lunches are now
part of the ritual for Morgan Hill public school students open
their doors today.
Backpacks full of books, homework and school lunches are now part of the ritual for Morgan Hill public school students open their doors today.

Eight elementary schools, two middle schools, one high school and one continuation high school opened for the first day of the 2003-2004 school year.

“The nice thing about school is that it’s brand new every year,” Board President Tom Kinoshita said Monday. “We can forget about last year, teachers students, administrators, everyone, and experience a sense of renewal. We can start this year off being excited, all of us, and on a very positive note.”

Superintendent Carolyn McKennan said the district had something to look forward to this year.

“Just the idea that we’re going to be taking a look at 7-8 (grade) middle schools and a nine-12 high school configuration, that’s exciting,” she said. “This will be the first time we’ve truly focused on it.”

The new Sobrato High School, scheduled to open next fall for 9th and 10th graders, will give the district the opportunity to pull the ninth graders out of the middle schools, according to district officials.

Sobrato, just north of Morgan Hill off Monterey Road and Burnett Avenue, is not the only construction project the district has under way. While the students have been on summer break, the district used the time to complete some needed renovations.

Besides Sobrato, renovations at Live Oak High and Los Paseos Elementary in South San Jose, continued, plus district maintenance crews were busy with routine maintenance chores at many sites.

“We spent a lot of time working on moving out of Encinal (elementary, which is now the site for the Morgan Hill Charter School) and working on Los Paseos (elementary),” Deputy Superintendent Bonnie Branco said Monday.

“We’ve mostly been involved with those pieces, but we have done the routine maintenance we typically do in the summer, like changing air filters. Another thing we’ve worked on is modernization of some of Live Oak’s classrooms.”

Teachers at Los Paseos, where construction workers have begun work in preparation for the move of fifth and sixth graders to the school, had the extra challenge of preparing their classrooms for students with work going on.

“They tossed my room,” Teacher Mary Belville said of construction workers who were removing asbestos from the ceiling of her classroom. “The sheets (covering items in the room) were pulled off, and dust was all over everything.”

Kinoshita said he was concerned about Belville’s claims.

“Hopefully the word has gotten to Bonnie (Deputy Superintendent Branco) and Carolyn (Superintendent McKennan),” he said. “Many times, when teachers feel the administration isn’t concerned, it’s because their problem never gets past where complaint is. If the district office knows about the complaint, it will be addressed.”

Branco said there was no asbestos work done in Belville’s classroom, but that the room was dusty and needed cleaning. The school is ready for students today, she said.

“Everything’s ready,” she said. “The bathrooms should be ready in about two weeks, but we have portable bathrooms to open with. The bus circle should be ready by Sept. 15.”

McKennan said she is proud of the teachers at Los Paseos who have worked to get ready for school under less-than-ideal conditions.

“It’s like remodeling your house and living in it at the same time,” she said. “I praise their spirit. The nicer thing about working with people who choose to work with children is that whatever frustrations they may be dealing with, whatever they may be feeling inside, they do all they can to make it work for the children. They are true professionals.”

Other challenges the teachers can face is the possibility that there may be some shifting of classes after a week or so of school.

“We always try not to reconfigure classes, but there is the possibility that enrollment may be greater than we’ve seen,” said McKennan, who spent part of Monday working in the district’s Enrollment Center.

“I would be less than honest if I said that there’s not always a possibility, especially with the kind of financial circumstances we have this year. We are doing our best to allocate teachers were we need them, and we have five substitutes standing by to fill in if need be.”

During the year, students and teachers will get an extra day during Thanksgiving, Nov. 26, which is why school is starting on a Tuesday this year, instead of a Wednesday, as in years past. The calendar includes minimum days, when school will let out earlier than usual, on Nov. 10-14. The winter break is scheduled for Dec. 22-Jan. 2, with a “ski break” scheduled for Feb. 16-20. Spring break will be April 9-16. The last day of school is June 11.

Questions about enrollment should be directed to the Enrollment Center, 201-6023.

Previous articleCost may shelve center redevelopment plan
Next articleGreat performances, thin plot in Graduate


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here