PINOLE -- Construction workers are scrambling to get a temporary campus for Pinole Valley High School ready in time for the scheduled return of teachers from their summer break on Aug. 12.

More than 60 portable buildings with classrooms, science labs, locker rooms and cafeteria facilities have been assembled on an asphalt surface laid over what was formerly the school's baseball field.

The portables will house the 1,500-student high school for at least three years while the 47-year-old existing campus is torn down and replaced with a new school on the same site.

Pinole Valley will be the third comprehensive replacement high school campus in the West Contra Costa school district, following El Cerrito High School, which opened in 2009, and De Anza High School in Richmond, which opened last fall.

Workers construct portable classrooms for an interim campus at Pinole Valley High School, which will be created to allow for the construction of a new
Workers construct portable classrooms for an interim campus at Pinole Valley High School, which will be created to allow for the construction of a new school, in Pinole on July 23, 2014. (Dan Rosenstrauch/Bay Area News Group)

At Wednesday evening's school board meeting in Richmond, district officials quieted the concerns of board President Charles Ramsey about whether the campus would be ready for the teachers and for when students show up on Aug. 18.

However, Ramsey was told that workers are laboring 12 hours a day, seven days a week to make sure deadlines are met.

The worker overtime may result in an as-yet unknown amount of extra costs to the $5.4 million project, said Magdy Abdalla, the district's chief engineering officer.

There is a budget for overtime built into the cost of the project, but more money will probably be required, he said.

Abdalla blamed problems with stabilizing the soil on the former baseball field as well as delays in delivery of the portables for the slow progress in assembling the campus.


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Both Ramsey and board member Madeline Kronenberg said they think district staff could have done a better job anticipating the soil and portable delivery problems so that the extra overtime could have been avoided.

"Let's treat the problems with the dirt and portables as a learning experience," Kronenberg said.

At a visit to the campus on Wednesday, Ramsey was focused on the resurfacing of two parking lots at the Pinole Public Library and the Pinole Valley Community Church across Pinole Valley Road from the campus that will be used for student parking.

The lots were in the process of being repaved on Wednesday, but a temporary traffic light that will allow students to cross Pinole Valley Road safely had not yet been installed.

Abdalla said the temporary signal should be in place before the start of the school year and a permanent light will be installed at the crossing by the middle of September.

As a temporary alternative, the district could bring in a crossing guard to ferry students across the street, he said.

The temporary campus is directly to the west of the Pinole Valley football field, which the school's sports programs will continue to use.

The baseball team will play home games at Fernandez Park in Old Town while the temporary campus is in use, Ramsey said.

The campus is on about five acres of the entire site that encompasses about 12 acres. "It's tight," Ramsey said of the campus layout.

The old campus east of the football field will be demolished this school year and construction of the new permanent campus will begin in about a year, Abdalla said. Demolition of the old campus is expected to take a year and construction of the new school about three years, with its opening projected for fall of 2018, according to Abdalla.

The new Pinole Valley is currently budgeted at $181.9 million, compared with $148.2 million for the final cost of De Anza and $118.1 million for El Cerrito High. The district is also building a new football stadium at El Cerrito High at an estimated cost of $21 million.