The new $14 million Colony Oak Elementary School upgrade is slowly turning from a diamond in the rough to state-of-the art classrooms on the campus that started out as a portable classroom school on North Murphy Road and Santos Avenue northeast of Ripon.
The construction of both Colony Oak and Weston schools was approved when voter passed a $25 million bond issue several years ago. Weston was upgraded first followed by Colony this year.
A long-time traffic concern with parents dropping their children off each morning on Murphy Road has been addressed with a new wide driveway entrance coming in from Santos Avenue on the north and running well within the new campus where parents may safely drop off their children without fearing they will be rear-ended by oncoming traffic. It eliminates parents needing to park on the far side of Murphy Road and their children crossing morning traffic.
Ripon School trustee Kit Oase said Colony will have a traditional school opening on Aug. 8 with students going to class as they did last year in the portable classrooms since the construction is not expected to be completed until November.
He noted the new classrooms are going to be “energy efficient” with a great deal of natural light coming through its many windows. Oase credited the C.T. Brayton and Sons Construction Co. of Escalon for doing a great job on the campus that includes sidewalks being installed along Santos Avenue approaching Murphy Road and with an added deceleration lane to allow drivers to slow for the turn into the school driveway without fear of traffic coming up behind them. Ripon rancher Jerry Barton was also credited for showing the school district how to reverse the heat stress the trees along Santos Avenue were suffering, Oase said.
Colony Oak Principal Cheryl Griffiths and district maintenance and operations director Andy Strickland performed a walk through last week. They were reportedly pleased with the construction pace, he added. The long concrete division between the classroom buildings will be planted in landscaping to soften the campus’ appearance. The State of California Architectural Department has already inspected and approved one of the buildings. The others should easily follow suit, he added.
The kindergarten classes will be in southernmost building with a large play area for the small children outside its doors. The existing office and multi-purpose room on Murphy Road will remain where it is currently located. A new water well has been located closer to Santos Avenue with the troubled existing well being eliminated.
Colony, like the other Ripon elementary schools, remains a kindergarten through eighth grade facility and is expected to house some 450 students allowing the older students to continue to indirectly mentor those in the lower grades.
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