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  • Measure U Update: Aliso Elementary School

    The Pacific breeze cools the air with a salty tinge in the open walkways of Aliso School, the red-tiled roofs and small courtyard a slice of old California. Built in the 1930s, Aliso is indeed an architectural time capsule and, fortunately, the plans to upgrade the campus with Measure U funds preserve the original structure and highlight it by bringing the administrative offices and the main school entrance back to its original center.

    Aliso School, like each campus in the Carpinteria Unified School District, will undergo major infrastructure improvements and modernizations in coming years. Beginning with an automated fire alarm and voice evacuation system scheduled for installation this summer, and continuing with classroom renovations to adhere to the Americans with Disabilities Act, and the installation of six Gen7 modular classrooms, a re-model of the kitchen and existing multi-purpose room/administration offices, the work at Aliso will continue into the year 2020.

    While upgraded classroom technology in the form of new alarms, wireless connectivity and “smart boards” for teaching will make the campus safer and bring it in line with 21st-century standards, the new infrastructure will ultimately raise school operating costs across the district. “Technology costs more to maintain,” said David Weniger, CUSD Director of facilities and Operations. “Dust and spider webs trigger the new alarm systems,” Weniger added as an example, but he also noted, “the upside is that the system triggers automatically in a real fire.”

    Like many of the other campuses across CUSD, Aliso School relies on aged portable buildings for a significant number of classrooms. Currently, transitional kindergarten and kindergarten classes, as well as a preschool program run by the Carpinteria Children’s Project, operate out of portable buildings on the east side of the campus. Aliso School’s re-configuration will bring TK and kindergarten classrooms in close proximity to the new administration offices near the school’s entrance.

    Fourth- and fifth-grade classrooms will occupy the high tech Gen7 buildings that will be installed on the current asphalt basketball/volleyball courts, and the portable buildings will serve as interim classroom space as renovation work commences in throughout the main school buildings towards the front of the campus along Carpinteria Avenue.

    Each school site in the district has its unique issues, like the steep grade at Summerland School and the soil stability at Canalino, which will require costly soil amendments to remediate. At Aliso School, the challenge is the overall elevation of the campus in relation to the floodplain it sits on and governmental regulations for school structures in such places. “You have to make sure you do your due diligence engineering foundations,” Weniger said.

    Yet for all the upgrades and reconfigurations coming to Aliso School, Weniger pointed out that with the exception of the Gen7 modulars, most of the improvements will not be readily noticeable. “We’ll take out the floors and walls, replace the aging plumbing and add the infrastructure, but in the end it will look like we just painted the walls and added new lighting,” Weniger said. But with a school as unique in size and design as Aliso is, that end result should be just fine.