Wasco Tribune - Serving the community since 1970

By Toni DeRosa
Wasco Tribune 

WUESD's new facilities almost ready


Toni DeRosa | Wasco Tribune

The front of James A. Forrest Elementary School is in keeping with the Spanish style of Wasco High School. The gates are in.

The Wasco Union Elementary School District will see the end of five years of planning and construction and $41 million in investment when three new facilities open in the fall and winter. School will begin for the district on Monday, Aug. 12.

Here's the current status of the major projects.

[BEGIN BOLD]James A. Forrest Elementary School[END BOLD]

James A. Forrest Elementary School and Palm Avenue Middle School are close to completion, according to Wasco Union Elementary School District Superintendent Kelly Richers.

"Taxpayers of Wasco are all invited to the grand opening and official ribbon cutting," Richards said. The construction of the new school and conversion of Palm Avenue into a middle school will be celebrated on Tuesday, July 30, at 401 Griffith Ave. The ribbon cutting for Forrest will be at 9 a.m.; Palm Avenue will follow at 10 a.m.

"Thanks to the approval of the bond four years ago, these projects are nearing completion," Richers added. "We invite you to tour both facilities."

"The landscaping is going in at Forrest, and all the fences are up," Richers said. "Also, the kindergarten and transitional kindergarten yard is all fenced off, and there are eight classrooms to hold K and TK classes."

In addition to the classrooms, landscaping and finishing touches, the cafeteria floor is in. Richers said that there also will be a large grassy play area.

"Head Director of Technology Rich Sanchez has been working on coordinating all the electronics, such as network, phones, WiFi and the touch boards," Richers said. Touch boards are electronic versions of traditional white boards.

"The district built Margarlo Street from Poplar to Griffith," he added. "The street didn't exist until the district built it, and it's where Forrest Elementary School sits.

Palm Avenue Middle School

In addition to the revision of Palm Avenue from an elementary school to a middle school, the school offices have been enlarged with several additional smaller offices for staff, school nurse, vice principals and secretaries. "There are two separate entrances to the Palm Avenue office, one is for students and staff and the other is for the general public," Richers said. "For student safety, no one can get past the two side gates into the inner office or onto the campus without being granted access."

Richers also added that each wing of the campus has been reconfigured with additional concrete between buildings so students can cross over to another wing with ease.

"There will also be an area where students can play basketball and volleyball," Richers added.

He also added that once all the bleachers are in, the floor will be installed.

[BEGIN BOLD]Maintenance, Operation and Transportation Building[END BOLD]

Richers stated that the MOT building is well on its way to being completed. "It should be done during the winter break," he said.

Toni DeRosa | Wasco Tribune

Some of the landscaping has already been planted. The ground will be covered with walk-on bark

"We are already working on the interior walls now, and ready to put the permanent roof on," he added.

In addition, there will be a lot of work that still needs to be done after the building is complete because everything will have to be moved from the MOT building now in use to the new facility.

Richers added that he is always researching what additional projects need to be brought up to the board, such as building an athletic field at Forrest Elementary School. "It's a challenge to figure out what should be next," Richers said. "I would like to discuss replacing the portable buildings on the different campuses to modular buildings. These are all in the future."

"The construction of Forrest and Palm Avenue were a five-year project," he said.

He stated that each school site should have about 620 students to make them all equal.


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