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Renovations, new programs take flight at local schools

Elementary students to have BBQs, other activities to start year
By: Joyia Emard, Loomis News Staff Writer
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Thermometers may still read “summer,” but elementary school parents are busy preparing their children to go back to school. Classes at six of the Loomis district schools start on Thursday, Aug. 19. Loomis Basin Charter School students return on Wednesday, Aug. 25. Children spending one of their last days of summer break swimming at the Del Oro High School pool during community swimming had definite opinions about school starting. When asked if he was ready to go back to school, soon-to-be-first-grader Tyler Beaver, 6, of Loomis, answered, “No.” “I’d rather go dirt bike riding and swimming.” Tyler said he was at least looking forward to the start of his soccer season. His sister Hailee, 8, said she is looking forward to third grade. “I will miss getting wet,” Hailee said. The Brockman sisters, Juliana, 10, and Ariana, 8, are both happy the new school year is almost here. “I got a new backpack, shoes and clothes,” Ariana said. Juliana said she’s excited to start the fifth grade. “I’m going to learn a lot of new things,” she said. According to Andy Withers, Penryn Elementary School principal, his students will be eased back into the fall term with a back to school barbecue on Tuesday, Aug. 17. “This year we’re including a pie-eating contest for the kids and a best pie contest judged by adults,” Withers said. Withers also said his kindergartners and first- and second-graders will be able to visit their new classrooms and teachers at a “meet-and-greet” next week. “We’ve found that this really helps our little ones come to school without the typical anxiety or fears young students can develop,” Withers explained. District-wide, students at six schools can look forward to optional after-school Spanish classes, which will begin in September. The full-immersion Spanish program will cost the district $68,400, but Jay Stewart, assistant superintendent, said the costs are expected to be covered by the fees charged for the class. He said fees are yet to be determined. Stewart said 45-minute Spanish classes will be held in the afternoons on Monday through Thursday, from Sept. 1 through May 28. The charter school will not participate in the after-school program because Spanish is already included during the school day. Placer Elementary School students will be met with a blast of cool air when they return for classes. During the summer, Landmark Construction removed outdated heating and air-conditioning units and replaced them with new energy-efficient units. “We’re coming in on time and on budget,” said Joe Bittaker, president of Landmark Construction. Landmark also made lighting fixture renovations at both Placer and Franklin Elementary. The $700,000 renovation projects are financed through a low-interest California Energy Commission loan and subsidized by PG&E rebates of $50,000. Bittaker said the only work that will still need to be completed after school starts is installing an energy management system that will allow Placer’s heating and air conditioning units to be controlled from the district office. Loomis Basin Charter School will add two sixth-grade classes this year and additional portable buildings have been brought to the campus to accommodate the classes. The charter school enrollment is increasing by 50 students to 310. The school will hire two new teachers. The district will begin the new junior kindergarten class at Placer Elementary School with a full enrollment of 20 students. Another new district pram is Star preschool, which is held at Loomis Grammar School. It currently has one full combination class of 15 students and is creating a waiting list for interested families. “If there are enough students, we’ll open another class. It just depends on interest,” said preschool director Nicole Crandall. Crandall said those wanting to be on the waiting list should call Star at 652-8417. --------------------------- LOOMIS UNION SCHOOL DISTRICT Classes begin: Thursday, Aug. 19 Students: 2,562 Teachers: 123 K-8 schools: Franklin, Loomis, Ophir, H.C. Powers, Penryn and Placer Elementary K-6: Loomis Basin Charter School Source: Loomis Union School District