S.F. schools scramble to ready buildings for class

The sound of power saws and hammers filled the cluttered hallways of San Francisco's Cobb Elementary School this week. Wires hung from ceilings, wet paint signs flapped off doorways, and unattended ladders were stationed where ceiling tiles and window trim were missing.
Yet within days, those same hallways will have to be cleared, cleaned and ready for hundreds of children on the first day of school.

To the untrained eye, there was no way the work could be finished by Monday.
"We'll be ready," the district's chief facilities officer, David Goldin, said as he calmly toured the school Tuesday. "It's going to be fine."

Similar scenes were playing out at 35 district schools where construction workers were frantically updating disabled access, upgrading wiring and plumbing, and improving schools' structural integrity in time for the first day of classes Monday.

All told, the district will write $40 million in checks for the work done over the past 10 weeks or so.
"It's been a busy summer," Goldin said. "They're all going to be down to the wire."
The long break is the perfect time to fix schools, but there is no room for unexpected delays.
So this week, workers across the district were busily putting the finishing touches on classrooms, offices, restrooms and hallways.

Complete makeover

At Cobb, which is getting a complete makeover, the work will go on a little longer.
In teacher Gina Martinez's second-grade classroom, a new window still lacked trim. It was one of a handful of little projects that remained even as Martinez hung bulletin boards and the requisite 26 letters of the alphabet on the wall.

She was OK with that given what the finished product will look like.
"The kids deserve a nice classroom," she said. "It's something the kids will be proud of."
All told, $6 million will have been spent to improve Cobb by the time the work is complete.