Natural light, vivid colors, safety, modernity.
Ina Arbuckle Elementary, newly renovated, is a haven for students, staff, parents and the Rubidoux community.
Jurupa Unified celebrated the school's refurbishment at an April 10 open house. The event, attended by school board members, educators, architects, community members and dignitaries, featured dramatic before and after photos, a short program, and a tour of classrooms and the new front office and library.
The improvements turned out so well that “we couldn't have dropped a new school here and done better," said JUSD Superintendent Elliott Duchon.
Ina Arbuckle, built in 1956, was last modernized in 1987, said Dr. Trenton Hansen, Assistant Superintendent of Planning & Development and the event's emcee. Now, thanks to Measure EE – the $144 million facilities bond approved by local voters in 2014 – Ina is one of several Jurupa schools to get a modern makeover.
Refurbishments at Ina have included: a new kindergarten wing, new playgrounds, a new library/media center, new fire and intrusion alarms, new external cameras, new walkways, and a new bus loop and dropoff area.
The renovation, which added 5,700 square feet and brought Ina's footprint to nearly 52,000 square feet, also entailed burying utility lines that ran overhead, adding new technology – including projectors that turn white boards into interactive, iPad-like screens – and completing structural improvements.
“They absolutely love it … It's beautiful," Principal James Wandrie said of students, staff, parents and the school.
JUSD leaders emphasized the value of a learning environment that engages and inspires students – a space for them to find opportunity, overcome challenges and learn without limits.
Mr. Wandrie said new windows, with streams of natural light, “really have changed the environment, the mood in a lot of our classrooms," expanding both sense of space and student learning.
School safety is another central focus; educators have ensured a single point of entry to control access and installed alarms, cameras and safety glass to enhance security.
In many cases, the upgrades safeguard taxpayers, too: All lighting is LED, for example, and the district partnered with the local community services district to pump less-expensive nonpotable water for campus irrigation.
But the heart of the refurbished school is the library/media center – an open-plan, colorful space with movable shelves, mobile seating and enough room for both a slew of new books and areas where students can explore, interact and experiment.
By moving the library from the back of campus to a new, 400-percent-larger space in front, educators created a hub for the tight-knit Rubidoux community, where many families have sent students to Ina for generations. Indeed, builders began renovating at the front and worked their way back – a statement to the neighborhood that the school shares their pride of place.
During the program, Superintendent Duchon shared gratitude for the community's support of the school bond and its benefits for students.
“When you walk around the building," he said of the refurbished campus, “look at it as if you were a child."