JAMS — John Adams Middle School and other community officials marked the beginning of a $12.45 million campus modernization project last week, the most recent construction under the Measure BB bond program.

Armed with shovels and smiles, JAMS Principal Eva Mayoral, Director of Facility Improvement Projects Stuart Sam, Board of Education member Ralph Mechur and others dug into the dirt to symbolically open the project, which has actually been ongoing since August.

The project will include a new attendance office, and an art classroom will be built into the old attendance office.

Nine seventh grade classroom in the 80s wing of the campus will be replaced with new classrooms, and workers will also install a new parking lot and lunch shelter.

A stage and seating area will be installed in the school’s Commons Space. Two tennis courts will also be installed.

New construction will reflect sustainable design features like buildings that take advantage of natural daylight and ventilation, water efficiency, clean stormwater and maximize energy efficiency.

Construction began in August 2011 and is expected to continue until fall 2012.

“As a JAMS alumnus and director of Facility Improvement Projects, it was exciting to see the project move forward,” Sam said. “The improvements will include a new welcoming entry, which will celebrate the entrance into middle school for students. The additional improvements to the lunch area and new classrooms will help improve the common spaces and provide an example of sustainable architecture.”

Work began before the school year because officials felt it would be less disruptive than beginning work in the middle of classes, according to the district.

To mitigate construction impacts, workers built sound barriers between the construction and classrooms and will spray down the dust daily.

All construction workers have been finger printed, drug tested and background checked to ensure student safety.

The money for the project comes out of the $268 million facilities bond measure passed by voters in 2006 to fund construction and improvement projects in the district.

That money will fund projects on all of the campuses, including a new science and technology building for Santa Monica High School and additional labs, a new library and classrooms at Malibu High.

New facilities at JAMS, Lincoln Middle School and Edison Language Academy are all scheduled to be completed by 2014.

Lincoln will see 10 new classrooms, four science labs, two shared preparation rooms, restrooms, a chorus room and a new storage facility.

Measure BB will pay for a new campus at the Edison Language Academy, including 27 classrooms for kindergarten through fifth grades, two pre-school classrooms, a new library and a new cafeteria.

That construction is set to begin Nov. 30.

Even as construction begins on SMMUSD campuses, the school district is considering the possibility of putting another bond measure on the ballot in coming years.

That $268 million will begin the construction work needed to renovate campuses and keep current on modern technologies, but capital projects in the district have long gone ignored.

At a meeting in May, the Board of Education reconvened a citizen-led committee to look at the possibility of a future parcel tax and bond measure.

While the passage of the Y and YY sales tax and advisory measure left the schools with approximately $5.7 million in new revenue this year, the committee was always supposed to come back together to consider new bond money to continue improving aging facilities.

“It was always supposed to come back together to address capital needs in the district that have not been addressed by BB,” Laurie Lieberman, a school board member, said in May.

ashley@www.smdp.com

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