Titan Shield

Major Modernization Projects in the Works for SMHS

In a presentation made to student reporters, Dr. Cherniss highlighted the need for numerous school upgrades.

Superintendent+Dr.+Alex+Cherniss+points+out+to+students+that%2C+currently%2C+the+high+school+does+not+meet+security+standards.+
Superintendent Dr. Alex Cherniss points out to students that, currently, the high school does not meet security standards.

Superintendent Dr. Alex Cherniss points out to students that, currently, the high school does not meet security standards.

Rakel Ang

Rakel Ang

Superintendent Dr. Alex Cherniss points out to students that, currently, the high school does not meet security standards.

Dahlys Ang and Hannah Charity

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Keeping up with the changing nature of education, ensuring safety on campus, and maintaining a competitiveness against neighboring school districts are the three key reasons Superintendent Alex Cherniss gave for the proposal of a bond project that would modernize the four campuses in the San Marino Unified School District.

In a meeting with Titan Shield staff on Thursday, Cherniss spoke about the potential bond, and, if approved, what it would mean for the district.

Among the projects slated for the high school would be tearing down the 300 and 400 buildings and replacing them with a two-story, state-of-the-art wing that would support the technological needs of the school, and effectively close off that side of the campus to intruders.

“Right now, anyone can walk onto the campus from that side,” Cherniss said, explaining the need for more security.

The renovations would also open up more parking on the west end of the campus, something that is needed on the campus which is heavily used by the community.

The cost for projects district-wide, including proposals at the high school for heating and air conditioning at the big gym, a new performing arts center, a new pool, repairing infrastructure such as pipes, plumbing, and roofing adds up to well over a $100 million, Cherniss said.

“The board is considering a bond, which is a way in which schools access funds for facilities via obtaining a community and election,” Cherniss said. “It would go to a vote in the polls,” Cherniss explained.

 

Hannah Charity
Slated among a litany of modernization projects is a new pool .

For nearly an entire class period, Cherniss answered questions from Titan Shield staff about the plan of action for this ambitious project.

“We hired an architectural firm to help us prioritize, based on the estimated bond,” he said. “The board spent a lot of time with our site principals walking the sites, getting input on what we need here at every school.”

Cherniss highlighted how potential capital facilities projects would include multi-use classrooms, new buildings for arts, science, and music, as well as plans for modern classroom technology such as “walls you can write on,” furniture that allows for more “flexible learning,” and advanced science and engineering labs.   

Cherniss sketched on the whiteboard plans of securing the campus, and addressed how these changes will ensure the school board’s goals of safety and security.

Air conditioning and heating in the gyms would allow students to participate, and parents to watch comfortably, during extreme temperatures.

“It can be hard sometimes, but we do have fans that help us cool down,” said senior basketball player Zoee Li. “It would be nice to have air conditioning though.”

The fans Li referred to are large industrial blowers mounted in the doorways that the school district purchased three years ago to allow for better circulation of air.

The temperature in classrooms is directly tied to learning, Cherniss said.

“Learning stops when it is 100 degrees in the classroom,” he said. “We need to fix that.”

Additional parking would also be welcome.

“Everyone wants to park on the west side, and no one wants to park on the east side because it’s too far,” said administrative assistant Mrs. Eve Estrada, who handles parking permists on campus. “Roughly 60 students have parking permits. Teachers park based on where their classroom is assigned.”

Expansion to the tennis courts is also in the plans.

“Our matches tend to run much later when we play home compared to away because of our weird rotation due to only five courts,”  sophomore doubles tennis player Grace Carter said. “This takes away from time to do homework and messes up our rhythm while we’re playing because we have to take long breaks between sets.”

Hannah Charity
Updates would include outfitting the gyms with heating and air-conditioning.

According to the District, they will hold a study session on January 16 to review all proposed projects at the schools.

As early as their January 23 meeting, the board will consider approving the bond, and determine its amount.

The district could ask for up to  $148 million, a figure determined by the property inventory of the city, and is according to state law, according to the District.

If approved, a bond campaign committee would be formed, and informational meetings held for the public before the ballot initiative goes to the voters on June 5.

“The best District in the State deserves the best facilities in the State,” Cherniss said.

 

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