2006-09-01 / Schools

School is back in session in Simi

By Avi Rutschman avi@theacorn.com

HEADMASTER'S GREETING-Royal  High  School  Principal  Dan  Houghton  greets  15-year-old sophomores, from  left,  Mallory  Short, Jena Leon and Emily  Schilling on the  first day of school Wednesday. Royal is one of four area public high schools where fall classes began this week. HEADMASTER'S GREETING-Royal High School Principal Dan Houghton greets 15-year-old sophomores, from left, Mallory Short, Jena Leon and Emily Schilling on the first day of school Wednesday. Royal is one of four area public high schools where fall classes began this week. Sharpen your pencils, zip up those backpacks and polish some apples because the start of a new school year is underway in Simi Valley Unified School District.

The greatest challenge facing the school district this year will be mitigating disruptions caused by school construction, said Lowell Schultze, the district's assistant superintendent of business. Several school sites are still undergoing renovations paid for by Measure C4, the $145-million school bond passed in 2004.

"We're trying to get this construction done as soon as possible to keep down the cost of inflation and to make sure the educational process isn't affected," Schultze said.

The cost of construction is already projected to run over budget by about $23 million due to inflation, according to the school district.

The district is requiring certain categories of construction to be completed before the bond money runs out. These include Americans with Disabilities Act requirements, such as installing handicap access ramps and bathrooms, safety equipment and asbestos removal, power systems and technology.

Construction of a new kindergarten and other grade-level classrooms has been completed at Atherwood Elementary at a cost of $5.87 million. The permanent structures will be put to use for the first time this school year.

Abraham Lincoln Elementary, Crestview Elementary, Knolls Elementary and Santa Susana Elementary will undergo modernization throughout the course of the year. "We'll be placing interim

housing on the different campuses to make sure that the students' learning process isn't affected," Schultze said.

Districtwide enrollment is down about 100 students. Over the past three years, SVUSD has seen a continuing decline in elementary school enrollment.

The district has hired 94 new teachers this year.

"We hire about that many new teachers a year mainly due to individuals retiring or deciding to move out of the area," Schultze said.

A number of schools in the district have new principals. Laura Tyre, who served as the assistant principal of Wood Ranch Elementary, will serve as the principal of Township Elementary.

Sycamore Elementary will be guided by Sherrie DuFresne, former principal of Mountain View Elementary.

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