Monday, April 28, 2008

School officials show off new elevators


With rockets from a science class providing an appropriate backdrop on Monday morning, school officials unveiled a recently completed installation of elevators at Santa Barbara High School that will greatly improve disability access on the hilly campus.
Funded by Measure V, a $67-million bond measure to modernize local secondary schools, the $5.4-million project involved installing six elevators throughout the campus. School administrators said they couldn’t be happier with the finished product.

“I’m just really thankful they are here,” Assistant Principal Dave Meister said. “This is one of the most beautiful elevators for a school I’ve ever seen.”
With swipe card access and architecture that blends in with other school buildings, Meister said the elevators serve as a fitting way to help students with disabilities or injuries make their way around the school.
Superintendent Dr. Brian Sarvis, on hand to cut the ribbon yesterday, dwelled on the fact that when launching Measure V, school officials expected to spend approximately $8 million on accessibility upgrades. With many Measure V projects wrapping up throughout the school district, he said that figure has stretched closer to $30 million.
“It’s a symbol of something really big in our district,” he said, “and that is creating disability access across all our schools. … We had kids in wheelchairs who couldn’t get around this campus.”
Johnathon Hoover, a student at the high school, doesn’t have to use a wheelchair but does have a disability that makes walking up stairs difficult. He said the new elevators have made life a lot easier.
“I can actually get to class,” he said. “…On my bad days, these elevators really help me out, because I don’t like climbing up stairs on my bad days.”
Senior Chelsea Yarnell, 18, also has a swipe card that allows her to use the new lifts. After fracturing and dislocating her kneecap about a week ago, she said even with crutches, she couldn’t have made it up stairs in her full leg cast.
“I couldn’t get around,” she said. “I wouldn’t have even gone to class.”
On her first day back at school, Yarnell didn’t know about the elevators until her math teacher brought up the subject.
“I just stood and looked at the stairs,” she said. “People offered to carry me.”
Once she got the pass, she said it’s been much easier to get around. She’ll get privileged use of the elevators until her cast is off in about a month or so.
Meister said a rotation of approximately 15 to 20 cards are typically in use, including by staff or teachers who just need to move heavy items around campus.
Carl Mayrose, the project manager, highlighted a few of the challenges of working on the hilly campus, including running into underground storage tanks that had to be remediated.
Mayrose and David Hetyonk, director of facilities and operations, also ran down a list of other Measure V-funded projects at Santa Barbara High School, including water and electrical infrastructure upgrades and a renovated pool.
“I wish I were an elephant and could remember all of them,” Mayrose said, “because we’ve done a lot of projects on this campus.”

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