Saturday, November 15, 2014

Berkeley High Finishes $39 Million in Upgrades

By Doug Oakley
Staff Writer
BERKELEY -- Workers put finishing touches this week on a $39 million construction project at Berkeley High School, adding 16 new classrooms and new athletic buildings and fields. 

The project is the culmination of 22 years of work to modernize the 17-acre campus that serves more than 3,500 students. 

"I know this sounds kind of crazy, but we've been working on this high school since 1992, and this is really like the last new thing of substance that has to happen," said Lew Jones, facilities director for the Berkeley Unified School District. 

Encompassing about a third of the campus' south side, the project includes 16 new classrooms, a 4,000 square-foot weight room; a 4,000 square-foot wrestling gym with padded floors and walls; a full-size basketball gym, the second basketball gym on the campus; a new softball field and a new football stadium that includes new bleachers and 40,000 square feet of locker rooms, coaches' rooms and training rooms. 

The new classrooms replaced 11 portable classrooms located where the new softball field is now at the corner of Channing Way and Milvia Street. 

Jones said the school district has pumped $119 million into the school since 1992, three years after the Loma Prieta earthquake spurred the district to start fixing potentially unsafe buildings. All of them were paid for with bonds supported by local property taxes. 

The latest project came in $6.6 million under budget and was finished about two weeks ahead of time. 

"We had a really good contractor and job superintendent who we worked with before, so it went well," said Jones. 

The project replaced a warm water swimming pool used by disabled residents and a vast parking lot. 

Physical education teacher Patrick Chamberlain brought his soccer class into the new weight room last week and expressed his appreciation for the new space. 

"It's a huge improvement and a beautiful space," Chamberlain said as he instructed his students to do pullups. "The one we had before was old, dirty and had rusty weights. It was just nothing compared to this." 

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