Laguna Beach USD OKs $2.8 million to refresh Thurston classrooms, athletic field

Students line-up with their math teacher Lauren Anderson to be escorted to their first-period class following Thurston Middle School’s reopening on March 17, 2021. Photo by Mitch Ridder

Breeana Greenberg, Special to the Independent

Thurston Middle School is slated to get modernized classrooms and a refreshed sports field, following the Laguna Beach Unified School District’s Board of Education approval of two bids totaling about $2.8 million.

With phase one of the project on schedule to be completed in June, the district is looking to kick off phase 2 of construction. In August 2020, the district awarded classroom modernization totaling $1.29 million for general construction, plumbing, electrical, and roofing.

The next phase involves converting the existing grass field to synthetic turf and the removal of two leased portable classroom buildings. Students are currently using the portable classrooms; they’ll be moving into modernized classrooms after construction is completed.

“The improved learning environments will directly impact the educational experience of the students and teachers who will utilize the new classrooms,” Ryan Zajda, director of Laguna Beach Unified facilities, said in an email. “Working closely with the principal and teachers, the classrooms are designed to provide a 21st-century learning environment.”

The first bid the district voted to approve was specifically for the installation of synthetic turf. The district is looking to install the same type of synthetic turf in place at Laguna Beach High School’s stadium. The synthetic turf at the high school, which is also called AstroTurf. Jeff Dixon, assistant superintendent of business services, expects the new field will stand up to at least 10 years of use before it needs replacement.

To prevent injury, Dixon explained the synthetic turf would have essentially a shock pad underneath, designed to prevent “G max,” which is “the equivalent of how much force can be applied to the impact of a head to prevent a concussion. That is proven to improve the safety of the field as well as the stability.”

The second bid package approved by the school board was awarded to Asphalt, Fabric and Engineering, Inc’s bid of approximately $2.7 million for general engineering and PMK Professional Inc’s bid of $52,300 for electrical work.

“Between those two, we can support the project with the capital improvement program,” Dixon said. “It was a competitive bid and we feel good about those that were responsive and responsible bidders that we can award to.”

Classroom modernization is planned to be complete by the start of the 2021-22 academic year with the two refurbished classrooms ready for use. Phase two is planned to be complete by December.

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