Tracing Tracy Territory: A sneak peek at a new school
by Sam Matthews/ TP publisher emeritus
Aug 07, 2009 | 3438 views | 0 0 comments | 35 35 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Tracy Unified School District Trustee Ted Guzman leads a tour of Kimball High.  Glenn Moore/Tracy Press
Tracy Unified School District Trustee Ted Guzman leads a tour of Kimball High. Glenn Moore/Tracy Press
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A cluster of mostly low-lying, single-story buildings will come to life Wednesday. Those buildings — some completed, others under construction — comprise John C. Kimball High School.

Development of Tracy’s third comprehensive high school over much of the past 16 months has been out of the view of many Tracyites, mainly because of the school’s location — in open land a quarter-mile south of 11th Street on Lammers Road on Tracy’s west side.

But come Wednesday, Kimball High’s visibility as a major player in Tracy’s educational mix will ratchet up considerably. That’s when some 960 freshmen and sophomores will begin calling Kimball their high school home.

Friday, Press photographer Glenn Moore and I accompanied Tracy Unified School District Trustee Ted Guzman on a tour of the district’s newest major facility. We were impressed by what we saw.

Our guide was the construction manager, Steve Gligorea of RGM & Associates, the construction-management firm hired by the district for its major projects.

As we walked through the facilities, we could see there was plenty going on. The classroom wings and several other key buildings — administration and library — have been completed, but work was still under way on many other elements of the campus.

Despite the semi-completed nature of the school as classes begin, Steve emphasized that the projected completion schedule calls for the other buildings to be finished during the school’s first semester, which ends in mid-December.

First to be completed is a building that will house art, home economics and shop facilities. It will be in full use within several weeks. The cafeteria will be in use from the first day, but without kitchen facilities for several months.

The major buildings that will be completed by the end of 2009 are the main gym, a subgym and a performing arts center, which includes a 400-seat auditorium.

Except for the gyms, which are tilt-up concrete, the campus buildings are of wood-frame construction with composition roofs and rust-colored brick veneer exterior walls.

The campus center is an expansive court of concrete interspersed with grass areas. We didn’t see any grass or trees on our tour, but were told they will be installed Monday and Tuesday before classes begin.

Bonnie Carter, the district’s facilities planner, said since construction was started in the spring of 2008, the schedule has always called for only partial-completion by the beginning of the 2009-10 school year.

“We’ve always known there would be some construction under way when classes begin,” she said. “We have planned for this — fences will separate students from construction areas.”

Carter noted that in addition to the yet-to-be-completed buildings, the school’s outdoor sports facilities also will be completed by the end of 2009. They include the football stadium — a replica of West High’s with artificial turf — a 25-meter-by-25-yard swimming pool, tennis courts and baseball, softball and soccer fields.

Turfed areas, which take time for grass to develop, probably won’t be used until the next school year, she said.

Gligorea, the construction manager, noted that experience gained by the general contractor, F&H Construction of Stockton, in building two nearly identical high schools — Weston Ranch and Lathrop — has resulted in cost-savings that held the construction costs to $63 million.

“A high school with these facilities — and they are first-class — could cost up to $100 million to build under traditional construction programs,” he said. “We are getting a lot for our dollar.”

Come Wednesday, the dividends from the district’s investment will start being collected — by the students and staff of Kimball High School.

• Sam Matthews, Tracy Press publisher emeritus, can be reached at 830-4234 or by e-mail at shm@tracypress.com.
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