Schools are closed across the city of Long Beach, but the city’s largest landholder isn’t letting them sit idle. Anyone driving around town during the COVID-19 shutdown has probably noticed green construction tarps around several Long Beach Unified School District facilities.
That’s because the district is using this rare time, when all of its campuses will be shuttered to students for several months (instead of the usual 10-week summer break) to get a jump start on projects.
“In order to support our education efforts, we have used this time to move forward with work that was originally planned for summer,” said Alan Reising, the LBUSD’s Business Services Administrator over Facilities Development and Planning.
Because of a pair of construction bonds, Measure E and Measure K, the district had planned construction at many of its schools, with the entire district scheduled to get air conditioning installed over the next several years.
HVAC modifications were among the projects that have been sped up during this shutdown. Because those installations often require electrical upgrades and other significant work, schools have had to move classes around during the school year as buildings become unavailable–that’s not a problem when the upgrades are taking place on an emptied campus.
Reising also pointed out that while the classes are vacant, the campuses themselves are still seeing use as many of the district’s schools continue to give out free breakfasts and lunches for all Long Beach children aged 1-18, whether they’re a student or not.
That program has been wildly successful, with more than 250,000 meals given away in the first five weeks of the program.
“We have all our custodial teams working to ensure our schools are properly cleaned and disinfected as well as supporting our community food services program,” said Reising.
Those custodial and maintenance teams still have their hands full around the city. In addition to the re-scheduled maintenance and construction projects, there are still pools, grass, and trees that require care, all of which are being taken care of according to their usual schedule.
The construction also continues at Millikan High, where the Rams are scheduled to be the next LBUSD high school to get a stadium upgrade. The Rams’ football team recently released this look at the design of the facility, which will face west onto Palo Verde Avenue. Millikan recently renamed their facility DeHaven Stadium in honor of legendary football coach Dick DeHaven, who led the Rams to their only two CIF-SS titles in the sport.
When the field is upgraded to turf and the track is upgraded from dirt to an all-weather surface in the school’s dark blue color, some Rams fans are hoping to see a naming of the field in honor of Rod Petkovic. The recently-retired Petkovic won CIF-SS titles at Millikan both as the boys’ soccer coach and as the track and field coach.
Cherry Park Upgrades
The LBUSD schools aren’t the only facilities getting upgraded during this strange disruption. The baseball fields at Cherry Park, used by the Uptown Long Beach Baseball and Softball league (a Cal Ripken affiliate) have been getting work done as well.
The Cherry Park fields have been laser-leveled over the last few weeks, with infield lips being redone this week, along with 30 tons of new infield mix for all of the fields.