gms gym.JPG

The gymnasium/multi-use room at Gustine Middle School is nearing completion. A gleaming new gym floor is in place, as are bleachers, scoreboards and backboards. The district hopes to be able to use the gym for boys basketball games this season.

GUSTINE - The floor is down and painted, the backboards are in place, bleachers have been installed and the scoreboards are up in Gustine Middle School’s new gymnasium.

But a number of finishing touches remain as the district races the clock in hopes of getting at least a game or two of the boys basketball season played in the sparkling new facility.

“It looks beautiful. The block G and lettering on the floor are real nice, and there is a lot more room in there than I had anticipated,” commented Dr. Bryan Ballenger, district superintendent. “I think people will be extremely happy with the finished product. There are quality finishes in there that really make it feel like a cut above.”

But a number of finishing touches remain to be done, and some of the necessary equipment and fixtures won’t be shipped until early February, Ballenger noted.

Some concrete work, rails on an access ramp, finishing touches in the locker rooms, flooring on the stage/classroom and installation of the folding partition which separates the stage from the gym floor were among the tasks remaining going into this week.

“We are getting very close,” the superintendent remarked. “Some things are taking a little longer than we had anticipated.”

Whether the school gets to play basketball games this season will largely depend on the state, Ballenger explained. The district must get a partial occupancy approval from the Division of the State Architect (DSA) in order to seal off the stage/locker room areas and use the gym on an interim basis.

If the DSA declines that request, Ballenger acknowledged, it is unlikely that GMS will be able to host games before the season has run its course.

“We are going to walk the gym and get some punch list items inside taken care of now so that hopefully when the next series of home games come up we will be able to use it,” Ballenger commented.

Ballenger predicted the facility will serve the school and community well.

The gym is a boost to the physical education program and will be used daily, he said.

Each of the locker rooms has about 330 lockers, more than enough to serve the student body. Each also has a coach’s office.

The stage area will house the middle school’s music classes.

The district will be able to remove the three portables which currently house music classes and serve as locker rooms.

The $5.2 million, bond-funded project earned rave reviews from a representative of a neighboring district who toured the site, school board President Kevin Cordeiro noted at the board’s January meeting.

“It was something to be proud of,” Cordeiro commented, “to (have) somebody from another school district come to our school and tells us they were impressed by it.”

Ballenger said he anticipates holding a grand opening in late February.

The contrast between the new facility and existing gyms in the district is striking, he added.

“Hopefully we can do the same thing over at the high school (where a gym renovation is under consideration),” Ballenger commented. “The community will end up using both of these facilities quite a bit.”