At its Aug. 10 meeting, the Los Banos Unified School Board welcomed all school staff back for the 2023-2024 school year. The board also heard reports from several organizations, was provided with updates on facilities and approved future construction plans.

The meeting began its public discussion with a “thank you” from See Lee, the CEO of the Boys and Girls Club of Merced County. Lee thanked the board for giving the Boys & Girls Club the opportunity to serve the Los Banos Community and their families for the past school year.

The Boys and Girls Club is a widespread club designed to be an inclusive space for children from grades TK to 6 to participate in engaging activities, while learning and building their social and educational skills.

Lee also shared the club’s increase in attendance rate, due to the school board’s help. Last spring, the Boys and Girls Club Spring Break Camp had 98 young people enrolled with an average of 80 participants daily. The Kids Summer Camp had an even better turnout, with more than 350 young people registered for the months of June and July.

During the facilities report, an update on the construction of the teams building and concession stand at Loftin Stadium was given. Loftin Stadium has passed health inspection and is getting ready to set up security cameras soon.

However, the stadium will not be fully complete by the time of the first football game of the season against Dos Palos on Aug 18. Because there is still some minimal construction still left to finish.

The pump house will remain until Phase 2. It was affirmed that Phase 2 will include renovation to the track and field and will begin construction once football season is over in November of 2023.

Later in the meeting, the board also passed the change order request for the Loftin Stadium Phase 1 Project to include more construction that wasn’t involved in the original plan. The new construction would include two new driveways, new concrete curbs and gutters and asphalt demolition work on 7th street.

This new construction, the board was told, would ensure persons with disabilities could have better access to the stadium, as well as vehicles and bussing for out-of-town visitors.

The authorization to seek competitive bids for parking lot improvements and for the Transitional Kindergarten Center Project was also passed.

The Facilities, Operation and Transportation Department Parking Lot Improvement Project will include a new parking lot with electric vehicle charging stations and a solar project. The parking lot has been deemed unsafe, with poor drainage and a leaking building.

An allocation of $2.9 million provided by the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District will be used for this project. The project should start in March 2024 and end in August.

The Los Banos Elementary School Parking Lot Project will begin construction as soon as possible and construction will run from September 2023 to January 2024.

The board also approved an increase in substitute teacher pay. Substitutes will now receive $170 per day instead of $120. Long term substitute teachers will receive a compensation rate of $255.42 per day.

A quick recap was given during the facilities report on other projects that have been finished and projects that will be worked on during the school year, as well as projects that are still in the works for planning and designing.

Loftin Stadium Phase 1 will be completed in weeks and the fire alarm project at Los Banos High School will be finished by September. Some upcoming projects that are in the works include designing and planning for Volta Elementary School modernization, a Mercy Springs Elementary School shade structure, Los Banos High School gym and classroom wing renovations and a Los Banos Junior High School walk-in freezer.

Emily Zaragosa