Imagine being an elementary school student and, instead of walking down a flight of stairs to get to the playground, you could simply slide down to it.
That’s what students at James Foster Elementary School can look forward to after Saugus Union School District and school officials joined together on Tuesday afternoon at the campus to celebrate breaking ground on a new two-story classroom building.
“We’re excited that our kids are going to continue to have a state-of-the-art learning facility that they deserve,” said Matt Watson, president of the Saugus district governing board.
The building is set to be ready for use next spring.
According to Saugus district Superintendent Colleen Hawkins, the building was funded in part by Measure EE. The building will have 12 classrooms, and the overall project also includes a flex science lab, which opened during this past winter break, and a new playground with a basketball court and other marked activities. Measure EE was approved in 2014, allocating $148 million to improve district facilities.
“I think we’ve made good on our promise with the bond dollars,” Hawkins said. “We’re excited about that.”
In attendance were members of the district governing board, as well as district and school officials, including James Foster Elementary Principal Jayme Rutter. Construction is already clearly underway, with the steel beams in place, but an official ceremony to celebrate the building was exciting, Rutter said.
“A lot of the behind-the-scenes stuff happened at the beginning of the construction process, but now we’re seeing it come to fruition, so it’s very exciting,” Rutter said. “The kids get to see the building and it just generates a really great level of enthusiasm for what’s to come.”
The flex lab will be, as the name implies, flexible for various science experiments and other activities that cannot be done in a normal classroom setting, Rutter said.
Students have begun to ask questions about the building and who will be using it. Hawkins said it is likely that higher grades will use the second floor, but no official plan is in place.
“The students are so excited. They talk about it all the time. They’re very excited to be able to have something that is very unique to James Foster that no other school in the area has.”
Watson said the funds being available through Measure EE have been essential to upgrading many of the older campuses throughout the district. Other projects funded through Measure EE, according to Watson, include a facility at Rosedell Elementary, a new building at Charles Helmers Elementary School and other maintenance upgrades.
“It’s touched every one of our campuses,” Watson said of Measure EE. “Without measure EE, our schools would not be able to maintain the level of standard that our community demands and that our children deserve. It’s been a funding source. The district doesn’t have the day-to-day funding for projects like this, but as our community continues to grow and as we continue to work to stay on the cutting edge of learning and education, we’ve got to update these buildings and our school grounds. Not just maintenance, but adding new facilities like this is essential in order for our children to continue to lead the state and become the leaders that they’re destined to become.”
While not related, the new building will also help when students from Santa Clarita Elementary School are siphoned to James Foster Elementary following Santa Clarita Elementary’s closure after the current school year. Hawkins said the exact number of students transferring to each school should be finalized by the end of this month.
Rutter was gifted a golden shovel to commemorate the groundbreaking, and the shovel will likely be displayed in the main office at James Foster Elementary.