"Many of us here have been waiting for this moment," said South San Francisco Unified School District Superintendent Alejandro Hogan at a ceremony Wednesday afternoon to commemorate the groundbreaking of a new playground at the Los Cerritos Elementary.
A few dozen people gathered at Los Cerritos Elementary School to celebrate the beginning of the next phase of school improvement projects that are funded by the $162 million bond measure passed in South City in 2010.
Several school board meetings in recent months were packed with student athletes and members of the South City community who have been anticipating the next phases of Measure J. After a previous attempt to pass a master plan for Phases II and III, the board officially passed one in early November.
"I want to thank the community for their patience and for working with us through the decision-making process," said board president, Judy Bush, at the event on Wednesday.
The ceremony took place at the spot at Los Cerritos Elementary where a new playground will be installed over winter break. Playgrounds will also be installed at Sunshine Gardens and Martin schools during this time, and at other elementary schools before next summer.
"It's like we get an early Christmas present," Los Cerritos Principal Kennelyn Celeste said at the event. She said that students had been "gawking" at the fenced-off area where the new playground would go, eagerly awaiting its arrival. She also said that with the installation, the school would no longer have to deal with splinters or broken equipment.
Superintendent Alejandro Hogan said that the next immediate step in the Measure J plan is to replace old portables with new modular classrooms at South City schools. In the next month, district staff will meet with state officials to acquire permits to begin that replacement process. Hogan said the permitting process may take up to 6 months.
Mayor Pedro Gonzalez, Planning Commissioner Rick Ochsenhirt, City Manager Barry Nagel local California School Employees Association president, Jolene Molfetti, and Bond Director Larry Scott, and school board member Shirlee Hoch and Vice President Phil Weise also attended the ceremony on Wednesday.
Phase I energy improvements to local schools were completed in Aug. 2012.