GREENFIELD — South Monterey County Joint Union High School District staff and board members hosted a groundbreaking ceremony Monday at Greenfield High School, where a revamped parking lot will be finished this month and a new two-story science building is expected to begin construction in August.
The project at GHS will completely reconfigure the front parking lot, getting rid of the small hills and increasing flow from parking toward the office.
“The parents especially will like the flow coming into the school rather than what we had before,” said Board Member Irene Garcia.
Garcia said she spoke to community members who told her they thought the old parking lot design was “awful.” She added, “They wanted to see something that will make it a lot easier to get in and out of.”
“I personally have at least twice almost driven on the sidewalk with the old parking lot,” said Paul Dake, a board member. “It was designed where you don’t know where the road is.”
Dake said he spoke to the school librarian who had to deal with the old design, where the library building was more prominent from the field of view from the parking lot than the main office.
“They were repeatedly getting people coming into the library looking for the principal,” Dake said. “Because of the way it was designed, the flow went to the library.”
The new design, without the hills, will lead people more intuitively from parking to the office, which will have planters in front as well as have the flagpole shifted over to it.
While the groundbreaking occurred July 13, the project has already been underway with construction crews on site.
“The cars will have three lanes specific to dropping off or driving through,” said Brian Walker, district superintendent.
Walker explained the new design takes into account not only people parking, but also parents dropping off or picking up their students.
The project was funded by one of the two $20 million bond measures passed in 2018, with one measure funding projects in Greenfield and the other in King City.
The beginning of those bonds coincided with the finishing of prior bonds paid by residents in the district, which was credited as not increasing resident taxes, but extending increases from decades back, in order to generate the $40 million used by the district in current projects.
A flat area on the north side of the lot, which used to be winding lanes and grassy areas, will become the location of the school’s new science building, a two-story prefabricated structure that is planned to begin taking shape in August.
“Our plan was to start in October, but all this Covid-19 has changed the processing, so we’re a little ahead of schedule,” Walker said.
Walker described the new building as “state of the art,” featuring classrooms, STEM science labs with white walls for notation and formula writing on all sides, and even a cafeteria extension.
“We have a need to get more students moving through the cafeteria lines,” he said.
The parking lot is expected to be ready before the school year begins, with the classrooms scheduled to be finished soon after the start of the academic year.
“I’m excited we’re building buildings rather than portables for the staff and kids,” said David Gaboni, board president.
The district is planning for the start of the school year and how to work toward educating the community while also reducing Covid-19 risk. It has a special online board meeting planned for today, with open session beginning at 6 p.m. The agenda can be found at www.smcjuhsd.org.