Guest commentary - Ali Kiafar

The excitement that started four years ago -- when Burbank Unified

School District, helped by passage of the local bond, began the

modernization and reconstruction of all of our school facilities -- has

reached a new dimension.

As the structures of the new buildings are taking shape at Burbank and

John Burroughs high schools, many residents of Burbank, who drive by the

two schools or watch the school board meetings, have become very

interested in seeing these projects progress.

As the person in charge of the district's modernization and

reconstruction program, I would like to update the Burbank community on

the scope, schedules and activities relative to construction of the new

high schools. This column, the first of two on these exciting projects,

is about the progress of the Burbank High School project. The second will

be dedicated to the John Burroughs High School project.

The construction work at both Burbank and John Burroughs high schools

is progressing very well. Costing approximately $100 million, these

projects started about three months ago and will take about 3 1/2 years

to complete.

Burbank High's first phase will cost $29 million and will include a

prominent new entrance to the campus, which will be adjacent to the new

administrative offices and connected to the library by a two-story

classroom wing. This section of the project is along Third Street,

continuing on to Harvard Road.

All of the earthwork, underground utility lines and footings are

complete at this point. The steel structure for the administrative

offices is already erected, and the roof structure formed. The main

structure of the entry element is also up. This portion of the project is

scheduled for completion by the summer of next year. This means that the

staff will be able to use their beautiful new offices, and the students

may enjoy the wonderful new library as early as September 2002.

Another section is the classroom building that will be two stories on

one side and three stories on the other, to respond to the site's grade

elevations. Ending with a large cafeteria and kitchen facilities, this

building will be parallel to Third Street, forming a magnificent interior

quad along with the other buildings.

The quad will be utilized for a variety of purposes, such as eating,

socializing and rallies. This building's massive retaining wall and

earthwork, the underground utility lines and footings are all completed

with the steel structure expected to begin in early August. The entire

wing will be ready for occupancy by the fall of next year.

The last section of Burbank High's first phase will be a two-story

building along Harvard Road and Glenoaks Boulevard to be built around

another interior courtyard. Encompassing 20 classrooms and the new auto

shop complex, this part of the project is scheduled for completion by

fall 2002.

Phases II and III at Burbank High are anticipated to start immediately

after completion of Phase I. In these phases, the existing auditorium and

some of the classrooms and current offices around it will be totally

modernized with an appealing arcade along Third Street connecting them to

other parts of the new campus.

This section will house the performing arts center of the high school.

Also, a new, large, three-court gymnasium and a swimming pool facility

will be built along Third Street. The other component of the project will

be a two-story parking structure with tennis courts on top to be built at

the corner of Third Street and Delaware Road. Architectural plans are

being completed for these phases at this time.

The school district staff and the construction teams are working very

diligently to ensure quality and beautiful projects at both comprehensive

high schools. As with all of our other major construction projects

completed so far, we are right on schedule and spending the budgets very

wisely and most efficiently on these high school projects.

As construction work progresses and the buildings shape up, more of

these projects will be noticeable by the Burbank community, adding to the

excitement that has already begun.

ALI KIAFAR is chief facilities and development superintendent for the

Burbank Unified School District

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