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The Saratoga Falcon

The Saratoga Falcon

The Saratoga Falcon

Summer construction ends successfully

Brian Thompson
Clockwise: Removing old HVAC ducts, installing new beams and ducts, baseball field demolition and engineering lab renovation.

Over the summer, most of the campus was closed, and five active Measure E projects took major leaps forward or were finished by the dozens of workers who were on site: heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) and roofing upgrades in 24 classrooms; covered walkway refurbishment; the installation of a pool canopy; the remodeling of the engineering lab; and the turfing and remodeling of the baseball field. Of those projects, three are finished, while the engineering lab and baseball field are still under renovation. 

New HVAC systems and roofing improve air conditioning and prevent leaks

As students and teachers returned to campus on Aug. 18 for the fall semester, one noticeable change was improved air conditioning. From June 5 to Aug. 14, construction workers installed new HVAC units in 24 classrooms spanning the 000, 100, 300 and 600 wings.

In addition to the HVAC systems, the 000, 100, 300, 600 and 900 wings received new roofing to prevent rain leaks.

“New HVAC will have the biggest impact on our students with the heating and cooling making everyone comfortable,” assistant principal Brian Thompson said. “In those 24 classrooms, the old age HVAC systems were not effective and not always accurate. Now teachers can control their individual classrooms rather than a whole wing being controlled by one thermostat.”

Though the school is still working with contractors on construction touch-ups, they achieved their goal of getting all rooms ready by the first day of school.

Engineering lab renovations aim to modernize

Engineering students and teachers moved to rooms 902 and 706 in February due to ongoing engineering lab renovations and can expect to return in the second half of October, Thompson said. The school is currently aiming to finish construction by Oct. 14.

“[The new engineering lab] is going to be a gorgeous facility,” Thompson said. “The space is completely modernized. It’s all brand new. Students are going to be so excited to get in there.”

There will be a new window letting in natural light, glass doors, cabinets, tabletops and ceiling electrical outlets for workstations. The space for the 3D printers, laser printer and CAD machine was also redesigned to be more accessible and past storage facilities were turned into breakout rooms.

Another aspect of the project was building an “electrical trenching area” to connect the building to the main electrical line on the other side of the boiler room. Construction workers dug a trench along the outside of the library and then underground in order to tap into the existing electrical line.

New all-turf baseball field to provide greater versatility 

Renovation on the baseball field started the day after graduation and is on track to finish in December, in time for the baseball team to condition and start practice by January. 

The old grass field did not drain properly and had an awkward slope, causing the field’s grating to puddle up during rainy days, leading to cancellations of practices and games for up to three days, Thompson said. The sprinkler system as well as regular mowing and monitoring of the field did not work well either. 

With the new turf field, the baseball team will be able to play games even if it rains in the morning.

“It’s going to be a beautiful, state of the art field once it’s done,” Thompson said. “The old field had reached the end of its life many years before it was demolished.”

He expects the new all-turf field to save time and money in maintenance while also being more versatile. P.E. students, the marching band and other programs will also be able to use the facility, similar to the multi-purposed softball and upper fields.

Additional summer changes improve school aesthetics

Hallways all over the school had rust removed from their cover structures and damaged beams were repaired. As an additional safety measure, all the old paint was removed before new paint was applied.

“If you just look up, you’ll see the bright white paint on the walkways on our campus,” Thompson said. “I noticed a huge difference. It’s brighter, it feels more open and it looks fresh, clean and welcoming on campus.”

Additionally, the school demolished the pool canopy and plans to install a new canopy in November and December after the waterpolo season. During that time, the pool will be shut down.

Separate from Measure E, school maintenance workers Luis Sanchez and Richard Fernandez landscaped the pool park and stadium entrance at the beginning of summer when the inside of campus was blocked off, making sure the vegetation was trimmed in front of the school.

Thompson expects that the currently ongoing projects will be some of the last, if not the last, campus projects funded by the Measure E bond, which was passed in spring 2014. The district is set to exhaust the $99 million bond soon, so funding for additional renovations will have to come from other sources. 

The types of renovations will also be chosen by a different group. For the past eight years, the Measure E Bond Oversight Committee had the final say on which projects to do next out of a list of potential renovations made by Saratoga High and Los Gatos High. The committee consists of community members, district personnel, board members, teachers and students, but it plans to dissolve following the conclusion of the final Measure E projects.

That said, Thompson is happy with how all the recent projects have gone, especially since they have stayed on track despite weekly changes in construction plans: The most recent hiccup was learning that the school needed to redo the cement walkway between the weight room, engineering lab and MAP annex to satisfy state American with Disabilities Act (ADA) requirements. Thompson said it will lead to more fencing around the area in September and October but ultimately will only impact their timeline by about a week. 

“Everybody who was in charge of construction did an excellent job dealing with whatever issues came up over the summer and making sure the projects stayed on track and within budget,” he said.

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