The school renovation project at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., is one step closer to fruition after a ground breaking ceremony at the site of the old Branch Elementary School, May 13.
Kevin Cordes, Muroc Joint Unified School District Superintendent, hosted the event and invited Edwards leadership, local civic leaders as well as future students of the school.
“What we anticipate is in about two years, we’ll get back together again as a group, and we’re going to cut a ribbon and we’re going to open up the two elementary schools,” he said. “Then we’re going to be able to transition to the high school; within five years or so, you’re going to see all brand new schools.”
Bailey Elementary School will be a transitional kindergarten through third grade school, Branch elementary, will be a fourth to sixth grade school.
This construction is made possible by the Public schools on Military Installations Program through the Office of Economic Adjustment, funding is derived from 80 percent Department of Defense dollars with a 20 percent match from local school districts, Cordes said.
The school project went through many iterations, including not renovating Bailey Elementary School at all during the early planning stages, Cordes said.
“We were just talking about renovating the existing Branch Elementary School, we realized that wasn’t the best course of action and, over time, our plans evolved … and we reached the point where we thought wouldn’t it be the best idea if we were to create a feeling like on a college campus, where you have a large learning complex and we break the kids out into more appropriate age groups,” he said. “Split them up so they can be in smaller settings and enjoy moving from one school, graduating up to the next level.”
One of the key components of the school project on Edwards is the use of shared building spaces that tie all the schools together. This includes common areas such as gyms, quads and libraries. Cordes said he and the school district are working to ensure the students get the best possible resources to succeed.
“You kids deserve the best that we can possibly give to you, we try and give you the very best teachers, the very best support staff, the safest environment to learn in, and we feel that these schools, which were built in the 1950s and 1960s, needed to be replaced.”