Bond-funded projects reshape schools in Novato and San Rafael

  • Students gather for theater trials in the new building of the Arts Center at Novato High School in Novato on Saturday, August 21, 2021. The building, which has a 450-seat auditorium, is among the new projects of investment in schools in Marin. (Alan Dep / Marin Independent Journal)

  • Iron workers wait for a beam to be lowered during the construction of a new building at San Rafael High School in San Rafael on Thursday, August 12, 2021. (Sherry LaVars / Marin Independent Journal)

  • Construction of a new building at San Rafael High School continues in San Rafael on Wednesday, August 12, 2021. (Sherry LaVars / Marin Independent Journal)

  • Students arrive for theater trials at the new Novato High School Arts Center building in Novato on Saturday, August 21, 2021 (Alan Dep / Marin Independent Journal)

  • Shannon Morgan Miller, Officer in Charge at the Marin School of the Arts, walks through the lobby of the new Center for the Arts building at Novato High School in Novato on Friday, August 20, 2021. The Marin School of the Arts shares campus with Lycée Novato . (Alan Dep / Marin Independent Journal)

  • An ironworker guides a beam being lowered during the construction of a new building at San Rafael High School in San Rafael, Thursday, August 12, 2021. (Sherry LaVars / Marin Independent Journal)

School bonds approved by voters in San Rafael and Novato are paying off this year with a range of state-of-the-art buildings open or under construction.

In the Unified School District of Novato, the high schools of Novato and San Marino are home to new performing arts centers.

Novato High School’s $ 23.5 million Arts Center includes a 450-seat auditorium and hall for art exhibitions, galleries, classrooms and greenroom spaces for the production of movies and videos.

“It’s a beautiful space and such a great community investment,” said Michelle Cortez, principal of the Marin Arts School and vice-principal of Novato High School. The art school shares a campus with the high school.

At San Marino High School, the $ 9 million Emily Gates Performing Arts Center has a 250-seat auditorium with classrooms and green spaces, a lobby, ticket booth, and restrooms.

San Marino is also the site of a $ 6.25 million sports field renovation project.

In schools in the city of San Rafael, Terra Linda and San Rafael high schools have added – or are in the process of adding – new science and technology buildings, common areas and sports facilities.

Terra Linda High School added a 10,545 square foot, $ 3.6 million innovation center and yard that “converted obsolete spaces into digital arts classrooms and professional technology education.” said Dan Zaich, senior director of capital improvements.

“The main hub and yard space has been designed to maximize collaboration with indoor and outdoor learning,” Zaich said. “In fact, the space was so innovative that the project received a $ 1.3 million grant for statewide career technology education institutions from the Department of Education.”

Terra Linda is also adding a $ 31.4 million, 30,455 square foot student common area with a renovated outdoor amphitheater. The commons include a library, cafeteria, kitchen, music and drama rooms, theater, career center and student lounge.

The bond money also pays for a $ 25.5 million, 20,287 square foot competition gymnasium at Terra Linda. The project also includes a bicycle and pedestrian path for students.

At San Rafael High School, entrepreneurs are still working on a $ 21 million, 17,860 square foot STEAM building (science, technology, engineering, arts and math). The building will include 10 classrooms, science labs, and an engineering and manufacturing lab for practical careers and technical education.

San Rafael High School also has a new $ 35 million, 42,600 square foot common student center. The site includes student services, counseling, a cafeteria and a kitchen.

In addition to all the improvements to the high school, the lower schools in both districts are experiencing big changes. They understand:

> upgrading of Lynwood Elementary School in Novato, for $ 12.5 million, and Olive Elementary School, for $ 12.6 million;

> a $ 40 million project at the Venetia Valley School in San Rafael that includes 20 new classrooms, a multi-purpose building, play areas, outdoor learning spaces and assembly areas;

> modernization of heating, ventilation and air conditioning at Bahia Vista Elementary School and Davidson Middle School in San Rafael. The $ 7.8 million Bahia Vista project and the $ 3 million Davidson project include carbon dioxide detection sensors.

School bonds have been approved by Marin voters in both districts over the past five years, with separate bail measures for elementary and secondary schools.

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About Margaret L. Portillo

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