Officials at Ernest Righetti High School in Santa Maria broke ground Monday for a new tech-based building. The $22 million dollar building will house 38 classrooms to replace the mobile classrooms that have been sitting on campus for years.
In 2004, area voters approved Measure C, a school bond for the Santa Maria Joint Union High School District (SMJUHSD). The measure authorized the district to issue just under $80 million in bonds, in order to be eligible for $30 million in match state grants.
The district asked voters to approve the bond because it would enable the construction a new school to help with student overcrowding, in addition to replacing mobile classrooms and improving classroom technology. At the time, proponents of the measure pointed out 7,200 students were enrolled in a district designed to accommodate 2,900. This year, about 7,900 students attend SMJUHSD schools.
In 2016, voters were asked to increase the district's debt by an additional $114 million in bonds. Measure H passed with 58 percent yes votes to 43 percent no votes.
At Righetti High School, the new classrooms will incorporate new learning tools such as “moveable whiteboard walls, mounted big screen monitors with the capacity to display from the teacher’s tablet, desks and chairs on wheels that separate easily into different arrangements and other learning aids,” said Dr. Mark Richardson, the district’s superintendent.
Jack Garvin is a district board member. He said it’s been over 30 years since the school has seen this big of an upgrade.
“My own children attended the school and I haven’t seen anything of this magnitude,” Garvin said.
The three-story building will stand where current maintenance buildings are now and will free up space for more parking spaces for students. Garvin said the building should be complete in 2019.