HAYWARD -- When East Avenue Elementary School students return to school Wednesday, they will enter a new campus that has been built from the ground up.
"This school does everything but fly," said a beaming principal JoDana Campbell, calling it "a beacon on the hill."
East Avenue was rebuilt by Vanir Construction at a cost of $27 million. It is one of five Hayward schools that have undergone either massive renovations or a complete rebuild through Measure I, a $205 million bond approved by voters in 2008. Construction is complete at Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School, and students moved into Schafer Park Elementary in January. Work on Tyrrell Elementary probably will be finished by November, said Dave Gallaher, Hayward Unified School District chief facilities officer.
Fairview students will return in August to their new school, which operates on a traditional school year calendar. East Avenue students start classes earlier because they are on a year-round calendar.
In what might seem a rarity for a government project, the five schools are being finished on time and under budget. The remaining $20 million will be spent on smaller construction projects throughout the district, which has roughly 22,000 students, Gallaher said.
All of the schools that were renovated or rebuilt were more than 50 years old. The project is the first step of a four-part master plan to renovate all Hayward Unified campuses.
The school's multipurpose room doubles as a small gym, with retractable basketball hoops and court striping on the floor. It is about three times as large as the old one.
Its stage has lighting, a built-in projector, a large drop-down screen and a sound system. To demonstrate, Gallaher plugged in his smartphone, and music filled the room and the covered outdoor lunch area.
"If there is a large gathering, such as an open house or back-to-school night, you can use the indoor and outdoor areas at the same time," he said.
The outdoor lunch area is a new feature at East Avenue; all five of the Measure I schools have one. "The climate in Hayward is so conducive to outdoor eating that we've found our students prefer it most of the time," Gallaher said.
Security has been improved, with a fence enclosing the campus and cameras installed throughout. The office staff can see all visitors entering the building. In the event of a lockdown, teachers can easily secure a room.
The building was designed for durability and ease of maintenance."When you pass a bond measure, it doesn't help the operating budget," Gallaher said, "unless what you build with the bond funds reduces operating costs, as is the case with this new school."
Not all the innovations may be apparent to the casual observer.
Bannisters are made of stainless steel to avoid having to paint them. The lower portion of many of the walls are made of the same tough surface as those in hospitals.
The hallway carpet is dark, so dirt doesn't show, and it has a rougher surface on the edges to cut down on dirt being tracked into classrooms.
"Our maintenance supervisor came up with that idea," said Gallaher, who added that both the staff and community had a lot of input in the design.
Each classroom has a Smart Board, which incorporates a computer, projector and sound system for multimedia instruction.
On the field is a scaled-down football field. "East Avenue has a long tradition of a Super Bowl flag football game. When we met with parents, they kept talking about how important it was," Gallaher said.
The field and track striping is painted on the artificial turf "so we're not spending money on re-striping, watering and mowing," he said. The turf, the same as used by professional sports teams, has four inches of padding to increase safety, he added.
Solar panels will generate most of the school's power on sunny days, Gallaher said. The light-filled school has air conditioning, but was designed for natural air ventilation.
"This school has a lot of technology. It is a 21st-century school," Campbell said.
"Our purpose is to educate these kids. I love the tools they gave us to do that," she added. "This school will help us ignite the spirit of the child."
Contact Rebecca Parr at 510-293-2473 or follow her at Twitter.com/rdparr1.
The community is invited to the school's grand opening.
When: 10 a.m.-noon July 28
Where: 2424 East Ave., Hayward