Sunlight streamed through large windows in Las Lomitas Elementary School's newly opened buildings in Atherton on a recent winter day. It was Jan. 17, and the school community was celebrating the grand opening of two recently completed flexible classroom spaces and an administrative office, along with a new driveway, with a ribbon cutting ceremony.
The celebration marked the end of about five years of construction of the new buildings at the K-3 school of the Las Lomitas School District, said Principal Alain Camou.
"We are extremely fortunate to have a community that believes in the integrity of our schools," Camou said. "If it was not for the strong support and backing of the local residents, we could not have had any of the new spaces the children of the community are now enjoying at both Las Lomitas and La Entrada."
The projects were funded through Measure S, a $60 million bond measure passed by voters in 2013 for repairs, upgrades and construction projects. Half of those funds were allocated for projects at Las Lomitas, while the other half were reserved for projects at La Entrada Middle School in Menlo Park, Camou said. (The district bought an extra acre of land adjacent to La Entrada for $3 million to expand the campus and construct new buildings, he said.)
Las Lomitas' new classrooms, connected by a sliding barrier, will be used for physical education classes when it rains and for small assemblies, according to school officials. The spaces aren't assigned to any particular classes for now, but can be used as additional classrooms if enrollment at the school grows, officials said.
The new driveway is designed to queue up cars for student drop-off on campus, with the aim of preventing traffic on neighborhood streets, Camou said. To make the campus more secure, the school also installed a gate around the campus' perimeter, he said.
In the fall, the school opened a two-story building to house kindergarten and second grade classrooms, designed similarly to the other new spaces with sliding doors that allow classrooms to merge and open up to the outdoors, Camou said.
All the buildings have contemporary designs that fit into the neighborhood, he said.
Camou noted that the new front office's countertop was milled from an oak tree on campus that was taken down because it was diseased. Redwood tree stumps in the outdoor kindergarten play space are made from redwoods that were cut down on campus, he said, and new signs welcoming families to the school will also be crafted from the redwoods, he said.
Solar panels can easily be installed on the new buildings if district officials so choose, he said.
There were some challenges that arose during the buildings' construction. Atherton's characteristically wet soil made it difficult to build on the site, Camou said. Construction workers eventually found that mixing the soil with finely crushed rock helped solidify the ground, he explained.
Because of a persistent flooding problem on campus, workers also installed metal grates near the kindergarten buildings and in the parking lot to drain excess water, Camou said.
on Feb 19, 2020 at 2:16 pm
on Feb 19, 2020 at 2:16 pm
I went to Las Lomitas in the 1940s and 1950s when it was grades 1 through 8. How many of you readers know for whom Cano Hall was named? :)