ATASCADERO — Two years after starting life on an architect’s draft board new science, agriculture and shop facilities at the Atascadero High School are about half-way finished with an eye on being ready for the next school year.
Atascadero High School Principal Bill Neely, a former biology teacher, paid particular attention to the layout of combined lab and classroom buildings during a tour of the site for Atascadero News on Feb. 24. Standing in the skeleton of one of the labs as workers placed steel girders across the quad in the future home of agriculture science, he noted the various utility hookups which make the rooms unique, a dedicated “teacher station” with an standalone island for experiments at the front, room for desks in the middle and wet-lab areas along the walls.
“The rooms are larger than a normal classroom [about 1,300 sq ft] not so that we can squeeze in more students, but so they can do more with the space with multiple lessons and labs in progress,” he said, adding that was an important detail as small class sizes are deemed an important factor in student’s retention of the material.
The layouts may be familiar to any graduates of universities with modern facilities as well as combining elements from industry practice.
In compiling their list of needs for planners the district went to UC Berkeley as well as private companies, where, Neely said, they noticed that the old brick buildings of the respected institution hadn’t kept up with the more mobile and easier to arrange workspaces found in the field.
In all, there are eight classrooms under construction currently at Atascadero High School with two connected shops and a project yard arranged around a multi-level pedestrian quad. That’s all on the former parking lot which seniors used previously.
Atascadero Unified School District Superintendent Tom Butler noted that the campus has been in a constant state of rejuvenation over the last four years with projects ongoing. New bleacher seating in the stadium and technological enhancements in retrofitted classrooms being among the improvements that students come in daily contact with.
With enrollment hovering around 1,300 students and 73 classrooms on campus the facility is the largest in his sphere of responsibility, and he has a good memory for what’s been done as well as what they hope to come.
Citing student use of school provided “Chromebooks” and projector linked cellphone apps for teachers, he said, “standards of information and the education we provide have stayed the same, but technology allows access to that information in whole new ways and teaching tools with it.”
Construction won’t end with the completion of this suite of facilities, as the remodeling of the current science and shop rooms will commence after the move. The school’s Black Box Theater will get a new home in a performing arts center in the bargain.
The girl’s locker room is also due for an overhaul, another project on the list for the District’s last round of other approved bond funding.