Remodel beating expectations

LA Canada

An ongoing renovation project at La Cañada High School remains under budget and ahead of schedule, according to La Cañada Unified School District officials.

Construction on the $3.89-million project began in June 2009 and is being executed in four stages, said Mike Leininger, assistant superintendent of facilities and operations. It includes the reconfiguration and refurbishment of offices, classrooms and science labs in the central administration and classroom building, known as Building A. The third phase of the project — remodeling three third-floor science labs and three second-floor classrooms — will be completed next month, Leininger said.

"We think we are in pretty good shape because we have been able to shorten the amount of time on the phases so we have given ourselves some extra time in the summer," Leininger said.

The final phase — remodeling an additional third-floor lab and two additional second-floor classrooms — will be completed shortly before the start of the 2010-11 school year.

"It's been really fascinating to see the transformation," LCHS 7/8 Principal Jacqueline Luzak said. "It is nice to have the new offices."

Renovations are being funded by revenue generated by a $25-million school bond approved by voters and issued by the school board in 2004. The bond also funded similar renovations to LCHS Building B, completed several years ago. Use of bond dollars is supervised by a bond committee.

While the financial downturn and subsequent state budget crisis have hit the district hard, they have also reduced construction costs. Bids for the Building A renovations were expected to come in around $5 million, Leininger said. But the district received more than 30 bids, and signed a contract for $3.89 million.

"Everybody is looking for work, which is good for us because [the cost of] materials really haven't gone down," Leininger said.

While the construction occasionally disrupts instruction, the classroom upgrades are much needed, said sophomore Katie Devine.

"The graffiti was so old that some of the kids' parents would come in and say, 'I remember drawing that,'" Devine said.

LCHS Principal Audra Pittman said new classrooms and labs will complement the school's education goals.

"It will be a place that truly is reflective of the high-quality teaching, high-quality students and high-quality atmosphere that we have and want at La Cañada High School," Pittman said.

About $4 million remains from the 2004 school bond, Leininger said. The next project planned is a $2.7-million remodeling of the LCHS auditorium and attached restroom, which will begin this summer.

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