Officials from the Lucia Mar Unified School District joined Pacific Gas & Electric to break ground on the new Central Coast New Tech High School on Jan. 26.
With construction now underway, district officials hope to open the school to about 150 students on Aug. 16. Once finished, New Tech High will occupy new and retrofitted buildings on the same campus as Nipomo High School. District officials created a proposal for New Tech earlier this year after visiting several other learning sites across the nation, including Napa New Tech in Napa, Calif.
On the day of the scheduled groundbreaking, district officials announced that PG&E had donated $250,000.
“To honor PG&E’s generous donation, the Lucia Mar Board of Education Trustees approved the naming of the PG&E Center for Learning,” the district said in a news release.
“This donation from PG&E is a great gift to our school, our district, and entire community,” Lucia Mar Unified School District Superintendent Jim Hogeboom said in the news release. “We are truly grateful and very appreciative of the tremendous support PG&E has given us throughout the years. This gift will have a direct impact on the success and growth of our students now, and long into their futures.”
New Tech High hasn’t been without its controversy. Members of the Lucia Mar Unified Teachers Association have raised concerns that the funding source might not be sustainable in the long-term, and that other district funds might have to make up the difference in the future. Additionally, union representatives say the concept of building a special school for a select few while other district programs are suffering sends a message of inequity in the district.
The union’s community liaison, Donna Kandel, said she spoke to the district’s Board of Directors Jan. 10 in a last-ditch effort to stop the project. The board, however, moved forward with the New Tech proposal.
“We made a good-faith effort to try to get the school board to consider the long-term fiscal impacts of this project but we weren’t successful,” Kandel said.
She added that union representatives cautioned district officials against naming a public institution after a private corporation, but were also unsuccessful.
PG&E’s additional funding brings the grand total of the New Tech funding source, the Lucia Mar Foundation, to more than $400,000, according to the district.