Contractors putting finishing touches on SAISD's Arnold Elemenatry

District: 'We'll be ready for first day of school'


SAN ANTONIO – The first day of school for most San Antonio area students is next Monday.

Teachers have been hard at work all week getting their classrooms ready but at least one San Antonio Indpendent School District elementary school has also been buzzing with the activity of construction crews.

As the clock ticks down to the end of summer, contractors are racing to put the finishing touches on a new addition at Arnold Elementary School in the 400 block of Freiling Drive.

The campus is getting $10.5 million in improvements and renovations under the 2010 bond program. But some wonder if the campus will be ready for students.

"It looks like they might have to postpone it, maybe a couple of days," Jamie Coronado said as she visited the campus with her kids Thursday.

While it may look like a work in progress to Coronado and her kids, district spokeswoman Leslie Price said looks can be deceiving.

"Certainly some things on Monday looked like, 'Wow, we're going to be ready the following Monday?' But we're moving forward and we will be," Price said. "We'll be ready for the first day of school."

Price said crews are putting the finishing touches on the new two-story addition that includes 12 new classrooms, an expanded library and new computer and art labs.

"The new addition has been completed, there's some finishing touches," Price said. "All that we're waiting on at this point is the fire marshall to come out and do an inspection of the fire alarm system."

Meanwhile, work has started on Phase 2 of the project, which involves renovating the existing building, upgrading the infrastructure and adding a new kitchen and cafeteria.

"That will not be affecting where the children are, although there is still construction going on campus until the end of December," Price said. "They take great care as we did last year, fencing off certain areas, lots of signage, high fences to keep kids away from it and people on campus making sure they don't get into a construction area and that it is safe."

Price said the city has given the school a temporary certificate of occupancy and the fire marshall should inspect the fire alarm system and sign off on it by the end of the week.

"The city has given us the occupancy, it's still called temporary, but it's for students as well as the faculty and staff, so we have that city permit," Price said.

The last-minute work forced the school to postpone its "meet the teacher" night scheduled for Friday, but that doesn't bother Coronado.

"They have to do what they have to do," Coronado said. "They are trying to better the school."

Price urged parents and teachers to be patient and keep the big picture in sight.

"We all look at what's going to be done: the beautiful buildings, the new additions, the new technology offerings for the children, new art rooms and computer labs," Price said. "It will be worth it, but for a few months more there's still going to be some activity at the campus."

The "meet the teacher" night at Arnold will be held after school starts at a date to be determined.

Extra district police will also be patrolling around the campus to help direct parents to their correct drop-off and pick-up locations for the first few weeks of school.

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