Sherie Gates treats Golden West School like it is her own home.
In a sense, it is.
Her father Ken Shaw taught at the North Main Street campus that was built in 1962 on what was then the edge of town.
She attended eighth grade at the campus.
And now she is in her 10th year as Golden West School principal.
The same passion for Golden West School and education of its 600 students is shown by the rest of the school staff as well — from teachers and aides to custodians.
It is why tennis balls are popping up in classrooms that have been modernized as part of the $14 million Measure G bond project at Golden West School.
“Staff noticed how chairs were scuffing (linoleum) floors,” Gates said.
It sounds like no big deal until you think of custodian staff time.
Staff came up with the idea of placing tennis balls on chair legs. It eliminated the problem and made it safer when students pushed back their chairs.
Golden West is now deploying tennis balls on chairs in re-carpeted classrooms. The reason is two-fold: Student safety and extending the life of the carpets that ae costing $2,500 per room.
The tennis balls substantially reduce the creation of carpet tears which in turns eliminates students at some point getting chairs caught and tumbling to the floor when they go to get up.
Carpets at Golden West are just one example of many that Manteca Unified has taken to maximize $159 million voters authorized in the November 2015 Measure G bond measure.
Deputy Superintendent Clark Burke — the district’s point man on Measure G projects — notes district staff explored all options before upgrading classrooms including whether carpeting, polished concrete or some other floor covering was the best for particular classrooms in terms of student safety, use, long-term maintenance costs, and longevity.
Safety, health drive
Measure G projects
“All of the projects are tied back to safety and modernization,” Burke said as Gates on Monday talked about how grading and new asphalt eliminated a perennial puddling issue between classrooms.
Burke noted that the standing water had created cracks in the asphalt. Those cracks over time became large enough for feet to get caught or for students and faculty to trip over them.
Aging classrooms at Golden West are undergoing a thorough modernization from floor to ceiling. Health and safety issues such as the abatement of asbestos have been addressed. New cabinetry is going in place.
The campus has been reconfigured to significantly enhance security for the school that’s adjacent to two major Manteca thoroughfares — North Main Street and Louise Avenue. Multiple points of entry to the campus has been eliminated. A new office along with new kindergarten classrooms is being built strategically at the main entrance by the reconfigured student drop-off zone.
Classrooms will have new push button alert systems tied into the office in the event of an emergency.
And while most people might think of security related to a lockdown or other such incidents, District Superintendent Jason Messer noted there is a more common pressing concern — medical emergencies.
“Think of a city of 23,500 and how many medical emergencies it would have,” Messer said. “We experience five to six medical emergencies a week.”
The new systems eliminates the need to dial the office from classroom phones or sending someone to the office to summon help.
The project is also converting space that is no longer used for its original purpose into new classrooms. Included at most campuses going through modernization are computer labs since the distribution of tablets to every student has eliminated the need for labs. At Golden West School, the modernization includes converting spaces that originally housed woodshop and home economic programs that have long ceased to exist.
The school is also getting new playground equipment for the kindergarten area as well as an amphitheater near the gym.
Bathrooms that have been experiencing serious maintenance issues were either redone or replaced depending upon the most cost effective option.
The front drop-off zone has been done to enhance safety and to eliminate “cheating” where drivers double back within the parking lot creating flow issues and congestion problems. There is now a separate bus loading zone from a car passenger drop-off zone that is separated by a wrought iron fence.
Messer noted that some people may view the use of wrought-iron as “extravagant” but that is not the case. In analyzing costs the district found that cyclone fencing due to new requirements as well as changes in welding standards is more expensive to use at a school in many cases. Wrought iron fencing also has a significant better durability rating.
“All of our projects are driven by health, safety and modernization needs,” Burke said. “But at the same time we are doing everything we can to maximize the expenditure of bond dollars.”
Once all work is completed under the original contract in the next six months or so, Burke said the district will go back to see if there is any money left in the Golden West budget for finishing touches such as repainting the gym to match the new paint that the rest of the campus will be receiving. Regardless, the architecture of the new construction such as the office was designed to blend in with the design of the gym.
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