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Irene Snow Elementary School students will be returning to a much different campus this week than the one they left in June.

The south Napa school on Foster Road is being reconstructed at a cost of $36 million to move buildings off the West Napa Fault. This hazard was discovered after the 2014 South Napa earthquake.

The original buildings, which date from the late 1950s, will be replaced with portable structures at the east end of the campus for this coming school while a new complex is constructed off the fault line.

The only permanent building that will remain is the current multipurpose/gym. The new Snow campus, which will open in the fall of 2019, will include all new classrooms, new administration offices and a new multipurpose building.

The school will have computer and library facilities within the campus’ current multipurpose building.

“Within this project, NVUSD will be rolling out new standards for technology, safety, infrastructure and kitchen services, which will follow in other locations throughout the district,” said Jennifer Gibb, facilities financial analyst, with the Napa Valley Unified School District.

There will be all new play equipment, play fields and landscaping, she added.

The new school “will provide the student/parent community with a campus consistent with a 21st century learning environment,” said Gibb.

Napa Valley Unified is also planning to rebuild two other elementary schools due to their proximity to the West Napa Fault: Napa Junction in American Canyon and Stone Bridge in Napa.

Voters passed a $269 million bond issue in 2016 that provides $100 million for rebuilding the three elementary schools. The bond also has funds to seismically upgrade another dozen school campuses.

The rebuild of Snow Elementary began last summer with prep work for the relocatable buildings that will be used in the coming school year, said Gibb. The new buildings will be erected in an area fenced off from the temporary facilities used by students.

Beginning in August 2019 and running through that December, interim structures will be removed and a new play field will be installed.

Gibb said that the multipurpose building will remain and be used throughout this school year. It will then be converted into a library/computer lab in the later phases of the project. The multipurpose building was part of Measure M general obligation bond that passed in 2002, she noted.

The new school should include some mementos from the old, said Gibb. For example, a Charlotte’s Web mural from inside one school building was photographed before it was removed.

“We are working with site administration to have the photographs of the murals framed for display at the new campus, as historical record of this artwork,” said Gibb.

The 28 portables for the 2018-19 school year are the standard relocatable classrooms, Gibb explained.

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Two were relocated from Willow (formerly El Centro) interim campus (used in the 2017-2018 school year), six are leased from Mobile Modular for 14 months and the remaining were original relocatable buildings from the Snow campus there were moved to the temporary campus.

Restrooms were also installed.

This year, drop-off and pick-up will occur in a lower parking lot, newly paved, just below the original on-campus parking lot. The lot adjacent to Foster Road will be used for contractor parking/supplies.

“The new lower lot will allow students/parents to get closer to the interim campus,” said Gibb.

The school has an estimated 415 students in grades K-5, including 16 students in the district’s Autism Special Day Classes. The school is staffed by approximately 18 full-time teachers.

Irene Snow was a longtime Napa teacher and administrator. In 1927, Snow was named principal of the original John L. Shearer Elementary School on Pine Street in Napa. Later, she became the first female superintendent of schools for elementary instruction. She retired in 1952.

Snow died in December 1958. Snow School opened in 1959.

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Business Editor

Jennifer Huffman is the business editor and a general assignment reporter for the Napa Valley Register. I cover a wide variety of topics for the newspaper. I've been with the Register since 2005.