With open doors

After years of district’s planning, Browning High School’s first set of freshmen to begin this fall

Photos by Denny Cristales | Signal Tribune
Browning High School, currently in the “fine-tuning” process of its construction, will open on Wednesday, Aug. 30, when about 150 students will begin the school year as its first freshman class.

As students and teachers go back to school at the end of this month, about 150 teenagers will call a new institution home when they enter Browning High School as its first freshman class on Wednesday, Aug. 30.

The opening of Browning High School– bordered by Redondo Avenue, Obispo Avenue and East Hill Street– is a culmination of the years the Long Beach Unified School District (LBUSD) has spent planning the small high school since the Measure K construction bond was approved about 10 years ago.

The budget for the program is $70.6 million, including land work, construction management and design. Measure K does not cover instructional supplies; those items derive from the district’s general fund.

Browning High School is the second small high school funded through Measure K– Ernest McBride High School being the first– and is one of five schools funded through the same measure in the district.

The school is a thematic institution that will prioritize career-pathway programs connected with tourism, recreation, hospitality, culinary arts and people movement.

Students will also have access to business and community partnerships with the Port of Long Beach and Long Beach Convention Center.

“It’s always exciting to open a new school,” said Chris Eftychiou, director of the LBUSD’s Public Information Department, in a phone interview last week. “It will accommodate the first class of 9th graders– about 150 students in all– and we will gradually phase in more students until there are about 800 students at the school. It’s a beautiful campus.”

Browning High School is, in part, modeled after McBride High School, a thematic school focusing on engineering, public safety, health and medical disciplines that just graduated its first senior class this past school year.
Browning will also still emphasize A-G university requirements for students.

Construction workers are finalizing minor details of their work on Browning High School, just in time for its official opening for the fall 2017 semester on Wednesday, Aug. 30.

“It will still be an intensive college-preparatory program, but it will still have that focus on those particular industries,” Eftychiou said. “So, when students graduate, they will still have the best possible college education and career.”

Browning High School is in the “fine-tuning” process of its construction, as workers have officially begun the last pieces of work at the school site in the wake of the opening at the end of the month.

Alan Reising, executive director of the LBUSD’s Facilities Planning and Development Department, said the construction crew is finalizing work on the gating, fencing and landscaping, which includes planting greenery and placing furniture into the classrooms.

“There’s a nick in the wall here, a paint job there, but none of those will prevent us from opening school at the end of August,” Reising said in a phone interview last week. “We are excited to move forward and seeing kids coming in at the end of the month.”

Work on Hill Street, the road adjacent to Browning High School, is expected to last for another three to four weeks, according to Reising. Over the last few years, there has been public concern about the safety of the street and its steepness, especially with vehicles who could potentially run yellow lights.

Reising said the concerns were recognized, and the district has been receiving public input for a couple of years. He added that the district has applied the appropriate mitigation measures, such as the use of already present stop signs and the implementation of crosswalks.

He also said the project featured an increase in on-site parking– more than 100 spaces, according to the online project report.

Traffic-report information and other details about the school project can be found at lbschoolbonds.net/browninghs.cfm.

Alan Reising, executive director of the LBUSD’s Facilities Planning and Development Department, said the chain fencing will come down in the next couple of weeks as work begins to finalize around the perimeter of Browning High School in the wake of the start of the school year on Wednesday, Aug. 30.

Browning High School is a 10.3-acre site with learning, science and technical-education labs, as well as special-education classrooms, visual-arts classrooms, teaching stations, administration building, media center, multipurpose room and food services.

Some of the classroom buildings will be two stories, and a central open courtyard will be accessible to students.
On the Redondo Avenue side, a portion of land adjacent to the school that is its athletic field is about 99-percent complete, according to Reising. The space will be used for physical-education classes.

The field has a running track and sports exercise equipment built in, similar to what would be found at most parks. Browning also has its own gymnasium with locker rooms.

However, don’t expect any athletic teams coming out of Browning High School in the future.

“Because it’s a thematic school, it’s not going to have a comprehensive high school sports program,” Reising said. “The school was designed to be a small high school, so it wasn’t designed to have all of the interscholastic school programs.”

It has not been determined if Browning High School’s field would be utilized to host other school’s sports games, Reising added.

District officials are eager to open up the school in time for fall 2017. The opening of the school is the fruition of a lot of work by many people– “not only on the programatic side, but on the bricks-and-mortar side,” Eftychiou said.

Reising echoed Eftychiou’s thoughts.

“Many, many people have put in a lot of hard hours and work in the school,” he said. “Personally, it’s a sense of pride knowing that you could bring something into the community that’s going to affect and improve generations of students. Sixty, 70, 80 years of students are now going to benefit from something that we’re lucky enough to have a part in.”

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