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Construction projects at several campuses in the Lucia Mar Unified School District will extend into summer as contractors work to complete the second phase of a districtwide modernization plan financed by the multimillion-dollar bond measure voters approved in November 2016.

More than two and a half years after voters passed Measure I -- a general obligation bond that established up to $170 million in capacity for renovation and modernization projects -- new facilities and updated fixtures have begun to pop up across the 18-campus school district. That work includes 21 new classrooms at Nipomo Elementary, and new track and field facilities at Arroyo Grande and Nipomo high schools, according to list of projects published by the district.

"We’re thrilled to be able to do all this work, and that the community were so supportive of this bond," said Cindy Naber, Lucia Mar's executive director of Facilities, Maintenance and Operations. "It’s been awesome to be able to do this."

Roughly 65.6% of district residents who voted in the November 2016 election backed the bond, according to results posted by the San Luis Obispo County Elections Office. The bond required majority approval from 55% of voters to pass.

Naber said crews completed major infrastructure work — including improvements to sewer, water and gas lines at multiple Nipomo schools — prior to starting the current renovation and modernization projects. "While it’s not pretty and nobody sees that, it was something that needed to be done early on."

Prefabricated buildings are planned for or being installed at several schools, according to Naber, permanently replacing portable classrooms that have exceeded their intended lifespan. Permanent classrooms and structures are receiving fresh coats of paint, new flooring or carpet, and new technology and furniture as part of a push to bring classrooms into the 21st century.

Lighter than traditional fixtures, the new furniture features casters and wheels to promote quick reconfiguration and collaboration between students. "The kids that have moved into our new classrooms already say it’s a better learning environment," Naber said. 

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Stadium upgrades to Nipomo and Arroyo Grande high schools will bring refreshed bleachers, updated press boxes, new restrooms and an all-weather track compliant with CIF (California Interscholastic Federation) requirements. Due to CIF regulations that require runners to compete on rubberized tracks, neither school could host sanctioned track and field meets on their decomposed granite surface.

Though the unusually wet rainy season delayed completion of the stadium renovations, Naber said the projects are scheduled for completion by no later than the end of September. Graduation ceremonies for both schools will be relocated to nearby fields on campus.

"(Families) will be closer to the students rather than they were when they were in the bleachers," Naber said, calling it a "good setting." Had the district waited to begin construction until after graduation, project completion would be pushed further into the fall.

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Reach reporter Mathew Burciaga at 805-739-2205 or mburciaga@leecentralcoastnews.com. Follow him on Twitter @mathewburciaga

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Education Reporter

Mathew Burciaga is a Santa Maria Times reporter who covers education, agriculture and public safety. Prior to joining the Times, Mathew ran a 114-year-old community newspaper in Wyoming. He owns more than 40 pairs of crazy socks from across the globe.