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Mesa Verde School Is Rising
Construction is coming along fast at Riverbank's new elementary school.

The $16.3 million project designed by Darden Architects of Fresno and being built by CT Brayton & Sons of Escalon is located at Mesa Drive and Eleanor Avenue on the northeast edge of the Riverbank Unified School District.

While still appearing the normal messy construction site, it now has several distinct buildings in various states of construction. These include the administration and library building standing nearest the road intersection and approached from a visitor's parking lot opening off Eleanor Drive, a two-classroom Kindergarten building, and two upper grade classroom buildings, one of 16 classrooms and the other of eight classrooms.

District trustees postponed building a multipurpose room in the first phase due to uncertainty over funding but plan to have it in place "soon," said Rick John, district director of maintenance, operations and transportation. The board actually has it on the agenda of its next meeting for some preliminary decisions.

Construction is a basic wood frame with stucco exterior but there are varied pitched roof lines, There also are some unusual features like an internal corridor to the largest classroom wing which offers entrance to the classrooms from the inside and draws in natural light both from the external windows and those opening on the corridor.

Just east of the administration building, workmen are digging out a shallow "amphitheater" where student and visitors can sit on grassy slopes to watch shows and presentations in a bowl.

The playing fields are in the south and will also serve as storm drain basins similar to Riverbank's public parks. Here too also is the top of a well to provide drinking and fire protection water.

The school lies well outside the city's limits but is a block within the school district's northeastern boundaries. It has electrical power available from Pacific Gas & Electric Company but must rely on its own freshwater supply, storm drain arrangements and septic tank system until Riverbank expands far enough to bring in piped public facilities.

With plans for the extensive "Bruinville" development on its books, this appeared much more imminent before the economy and building industry collapsed, John commented.

Parking arrangements will split vehicles into three groups. Staff will park in a designated area to the south. Visitors will enter and leave a parking lot off Eleanor Avenue to approach the administration building from the east. Buses will pull into a wide "turnout" of Mesa Drive to load and unload students.

Mesa Verde is due to open its doors to about 350 students after the Christmas vacation with the school's ultimate capacity set around 500 pupils. There will be a grand opening sometime in January.