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Construction starts on LHS expansion

By: Brandon Darnell, News Messenger Reporter
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Students may be out for the summer but Lincoln High School is full of activity as workers add three classrooms and complete several other projects in the next three months. “This is for the master plan to allow the school to accommodate up to 2,000 kids,” said Cathy Allen, assistant superintendent for facilities and maintenance services. This summer’s construction is being referred to as Increment One and will cost $1,061,000. Increment One includes the addition of three new modular science classrooms. The rooms will be near the old entrance to the school, where Seventh Street dead-ends into the campus. Other Increment One improvements are cosmetic enhancements. The chain-link fencing currently around the school will be replaced with wrought-iron fencing. Oleander plants along Seventh Street will be taken out as well, allowing more room for students to walk on the sidewalk. Benches will be added for students waiting for their rides home. “We have such excellent programs but we just need to make it look fantastic,” Allen said. Lincoln High Principal Dave Butler said the expansion will “dress up the campus and help us as far as having more classroom space for students.” Jerusha Loya, a Lincoln High senior this coming fall, said that the new classrooms and cosmetic improvements represent an overall improvement. “We’re getting more students every year,” Loya said, adding that the new classrooms will help alleviate crowding and allow space for increasing student population. Loya said one possible downfall, although not a big problem, could be more crowding in the hallways as classrooms go into space that is currently open. “Lincoln High School needs to be more noticed on the outside,” Loya said. The exterior cosmetic improvements, according to Loya, will give a positive outside view of the school. Other Increment One improvements include renovating the bathrooms near the new building site to conform to current standards, planting trees along Seventh Street and doing minor renovations to some buildings along Seventh Street. The groundwork for the next phase of the project – Increment Two – will also begin this summer, Allen said. The main feature of Increment Two is the addition of two classrooms near the quad, which will be connected to existing classrooms by a covered walkway, which will, in turn, allow students two routes through that side of the school that are protected from the elements instead of just the current one. The overall master plan – expected to cost about $50 million – calls for a “focal point” at each side of the school, according to Allen. “We don’t want people getting lost trying to find the entrance of the school,” Allen said, adding that she wants the school to be aesthetically pleasing from all angles. The funding for Increments One and Two is already secured, coming from maintenance and improvement money left over from the last bond measure but an additional bond will be needed to see the full master plan to completion, Allen said. The district is “not in a rush” to complete the master plan, according to Allen, but is taking proactive measures in anticipation of increasing enrollment. “We can build the new modular classrooms now instead of panicking and having to stick portables in the parking lot at the last minute,” Allen said. The new classrooms and the high school expansion are not in lieu of building another school but to accommodate the students Lincoln High is expected to draw before a new high school is feasible, Allen said. Brandon Darnell can be reached by e-mail at brandond@goldcountrymedia.com.