Friday, July 14, 2006

School Progress

School Progress
Dixon Enthused by Construction
By Melissa Murphy/Staff Writer

Dixon Unified School District superintendent Roberto Salinas (above) looks over the construction site of the new Dixon high school on Monday during a tour with contractors and the school board. (Brad Zweerink/The Reporter)

With just a few concrete foundations and framed-up classrooms in place, the future site of Dixon's new high school might not look like much to the casual observer.
But it's a little slice of heaven for school board members who called a special meeting this week in order to tour the site together.

Donning their hard hats and blue jeans, the trustees expressed plenty of excitement about what they saw.

"It's wonderful to see something that has been in the plans for so long is finally starting to be built," said Trustee Ernie VanSant.

Bob Fawson from VanPelt Construction Management Group led the tour, showing the group - each carrying a copy of a map - where each building will be.

New high school principal Tom Hermon also joined the group, getting a feel for what he will face in the next year.

"It's an exciting time," Hermon said. "Lots to do and look forward to."

Former Principal Bob Dolan, now in charge of the design of the new school, was more than excited about the project.

"The process has been really outstanding," Dolan said.

That's a cheerier outlook than some had earlier this year when an unusually long rainy season pushed the project behind schedule by almost three months.

Superintendent Roberto Salinas, however, said the delay has been whittled down to just a three weeks. Instead of the project being completed at the beginning of June 2007, the original completion date, the group is looking at completion in early July 2007, at the latest.

"We're catching up quickly," said Salinas, who visits the site weekly. "It's been a steady progression, but we're keeping our fingers crossed."

Having about 110 guys on the site daily has contributed a lot to catching up with the schedule, Salinas said.

The excitement of a new school has trickled down to the students who will experience the opportunities the high school will have to offer.

"I know the junior class is already talking about how they'll be the first ones to graduate from the new high school," Salinas said. "They're already looking forward to it."

On the brink of overcrowding at the current high school, the new facility will give the students a lot more options that aren't already accessible to the students.

Easy access to the May Fair grounds and a new a career center are just a few things the school will offer.

"The better amenities will provide the opportunity for the students to grow," Salinas said.

Salinas also said the new high school is actually a "three in one" deal, providing for future growth for all grade levels.

Once students move into the new high school, the old high school will accommodate the junior high students and C.A. Jacobs Middle School will become a new elementary school.

"The setup is a really good example of good planning," Salinas said.

In order to save money now, the board planned to have possibly two extra buildings at the site constructed in the future. Now, however, those two additional classroom buildings will be built with the rest of the project because of extra funds from the state and new housing developments in the city.

The land the new high school will sit on is behind Hall Park and the Dixon May Fair grounds, a total of 90 acres, including a 30 acre farm.

The entire campus, then, is almost four times the size of the current high school location.

"It's just massive," said Board Vice President Kim Poole. "Just for the community, it's amazing. Dixon doesn't have anything like this. It's actually going to become a reality."

Melissa Murphy can be reached at

Dixon School District board member Amy Swanson (left) and school board president Alan Hodge look over the site for Dixon's new high school. (Brad Zweerink/The Reporter)

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