Auld reports on BHS construction

Rebecca Neipp

News Review Staff Writer

Auld reports on BHS constructionAs students and staff at Burroughs High School wrapped up their fifth week of the school year, Principal Bryan Auld reported to the Ridgecrest Exchange Club on how the Burros are adjusting to new and ongoing construction projects.

“Summer was an incredibly challenging time for us,” he said. “We had an overzealous, maybe unrealistic, list of things we wanted to accomplish while students and staff were gone.

“I can say there are a lot of things our contractors are really great at. For example they are fantastic at demolition. That takes a day or two. But it takes a lot longer to rebuild.”

But now the vast majority of construction is complete. The upgrades not only facilitate a more learning-friendly environment — with high-tech teaching walls instead of 50-year-old infrastructure, whisper-quiet heating and air in place of rattling and ineffective HVAC systems and other modernized conveniences — but also yield energy efficiency and heightened security.

“I think what I like most are the safety aspects,” said Auld.

Part of the challenge came in properly locking down the campus stem from the shift in community demographics. When the campus was built in the 1950s, the front of the school faced the neighborhoods situated on base at China Lake.

Even during Auld’s attendance at BHS in the 1990s, “I remember standing at the admin building and seeing backyards across the street.”

Those homes have since been demolished, and the vast majority of the student population now lives on — and approaches the school from — the opposite side. So now the “front office” is buried in the back of the school.

“We still have visitors who park at what they feel is the front of the school, who just wander around lost. In this day and age, people wandering around campus is not what we want.”

So among the final phase of construction will be a new administrative building, which will sit at the southwest corner of the campus, at the intersection of French Street and Drummond Avenue where traffic flows to the school.

The foundation has been laid, and the modular buildings are being assembled offsite and anticipated to be in place in January.

This is several months later than expected, but Auld noted several hurdles in construction — not the least of which are the exceptionally rigorous standards that apply exclusively to school construction.

Exacerbating the delay is a change in state policy which opened up new school improvements across California.

Even though BHS had been in the front of the queue, many contractors backed out in favor of jobs closer to their homes. “I do want to say that there were several contractors, including our locals, who went above and beyond for us.”

Auld said that he and Superintendent Ernie Bell realized that to the vast majority of the community, the underlying improvements to the school would be invisible.

So they made room in the budget for new paint.

“C. Martin Company has done exceptional work, coming in at crazy hours all summer to make this happen,” he said. “And we are now coming to a place where we are feeling the benefits of all this disruption.”

These benefits range from creating an environment more conducive to learning to stirring up school pride (see also a first-person perspective about stadium improvements, Page 4).

“For a long time, we would be contacted by transfer students or their parents asking to come visit. We would always have to encourage them to really look at our programs, and not judge our book by its cover,” he said.

Although the school culture and academic rigor generally won over the newcomers, “now we have a beautiful campus to be proud of, which has been a significant boost in morale.”

There are sill a few flourishes that will happen once construction is completed, he said.

“After all is said and done we want to do murals and signs and decorate our campus to create something we can be even more proud of.”

Story First Published: 2017-09-15