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story.lead_photo.caption Democrat photo/Kaden QuinnThe kindergarten classroom pictured here is one of many new spaces available at California Elementary School.

After months of work connecting both California Elementary School and California Middle School, construction has begun to wind down with the majority of structures having been completed.

While there are still some structures that need to be finished, teachers have been able to move into the new areas that have been built early in the 2021-22 school year.

Superintendent Dwight Sanders said he and his staff are very satisfied with the significant amount of progress that has been made in construction on the school interior. Classes dedicated to pre-K, kindergarten, special education, occupational and physical therapy, third- through fifth-grade counseling, and music are some of the facilities that have been completed and furnished.

Classrooms in the new edition are stocked with facilities that are helpful to each student. Built-in bathrooms have been installed in a few of the classrooms, and the majority of spaces in this new addition to the schools were designed to double as a potential homeroom if necessary.

"(Looking at our Needs Closet), it is actually meant to hold school supplies like extra backpacks, clothing and everything students would need," Sanders said. "However, we built with the plan to be able to convert any rooms into a homeroom environment. For example, if we had a large kindergarten group and we needed six teachers instead of five, the Needs Closet would be converted into a classroom."

Classrooms are not the only element that has been improved upon. New basketball goals and flooring were installed, along with some of the other work that Sanders discussed.

Although there are still some areas that need to be completed, such as the elementary parking lot, the new cafeteria and the school's new multi-purpose room, Sanders said it is only a matter of time before those are to be finished.

Sanders said between the district's elementary and middle school staff, about 90 percent of them have moved to a different room or location. He said that the buildings' most inferior learning spaces prior to construction are now gone and that teachers are either already relocated or preparing to do so.

"They're in improved spaces from what they had," Sanders said. "They've made their new space their own, and they've really taken pride in their classrooms. It's a very inviting space for students and I'm most proud of thatand the ownership that teachers have taken in how well they've gotten their rooms decorated and in creating that great learning environment for students."

Sanders also said faculty and staff have been able to move not only into the newer areas of construction but also the nicest areas of their already existing structure. He said in almost every case, the new construction is an improved space compared to what had previously been built.

Although there are still spaces that need to be completed before they can be occupied, Sanders said the administration is working diligently with the construction crew to get those areas done. While he said he does not want to stamp an exact date on when the entire project will be finished, he is optimistic with the fast and efficient job workers have been able to accomplish.

"It's a work in progress," Sanders said. "It's not done, but the spaces that are available now are fantastic. We're continuing to work hard to finish the projects up and although we've been hit hard with supply issues — a lot of materials have already been back-ordered — we're making the best of the situation we've got. We have students in safe and really nice learning environments, so we'll keep working to finish the projects up and get all of the instructional spaces available."

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