School Makeover: "Our Children Deserve This"

Summer facelift from bond measure "long in coming"

By Damian Trujillo
|  Tuesday, Oct 6, 2009  |  Updated 4:38 PM PDT
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School Makeover: "Our Children Deserve This"

Alum Rock Unified School District

Voters approved a major renovation at several San Jose schools, including Cesar Chavez Elementary.

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While voters statewide rejected tax hikes and bond measures, one San Jose school district persuaded voters to pay for a makeover.

Drive to San Jose's Cesar Chavez Elementary, and you may not recognize it. The Alum Rock School District poured more than $179 million to more than 300 classrooms, thanks to Measure G, the bond measure approved by 79 percent of voters last year -- a bond measure which passed even as measures to solve the state's fiscal budget failed at the polls.

"Our children deserve this," said an excited Rene Sanchez, the princpal at Chavez Elementary.

The distrrict used some of the money to add security fencing around his school, and plant new trees and flowers. And Chavez will eventually install central air conditioning, a rarity in mostly balmy northern California

"Teachers joke around at how they feel like they're melting when you have 80, 90 degrees," said Sanchez. "It's difficult to stay focused, keep students engaged. Learning is diffinitely hurt by that type of environment."

"It looks a lot better, and it motivates the kids," said parent Marta Castellanos.

The Distirct is in a low-income part of San Jose. Sanchez says test scores remain below the state average at his school.

But he's excited voters in the area decided to invest in the kids, especially during the economic recession.

The district's even installing state-of-the-art, interactive whiteboards  

Sanchez says now, instead of worrying about leaky roofs and uncomfortably warm classrooms, his teachers can concentrate on the important stuff -- like preparing the children for college.

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