The halls where many El Cerritans spent their middle-school years will soon come crashing down, school district officials say.
Workers can be seen preparing for the long-planned demolition of the old Portola Middle School, located at Moeser Lane and Navellier Street.
The contractor is currently removing or containing hazardous materials in the buildings, and "the actual physical demolition of the buildings themselves will not start until probably sometime in late June or in July," said E. Keith Holtslander, director of facilities and construction for the West Contra Costa Unified School District.
The hillside school – designed by noted architect John Carl Warnecke and completed in 1951 – was condemned after the school district found that its sloping, unstable terrain posed an irreparable seismic hazard. Classes are being held in temporary buildings on level ground at the western end of the site until a is built at the site of the former Castro Elementary School in El Cerrito.
The new Portola "is just about to start construction in the next couple of months," district Superintendent last Wednesday.
The current site will be graded and left empty by the school district for the time being, with permission for the City of El Cerrito to provide recreation on the parcel if it chooses. The city and school district have on the flat western portion.
We thank Patch contributor Betty Buginas for the attached photos.
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