Disney Elementary Celebrates Groundbreaking For New Building

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(from left to right) Burbank Unified Assistant Superintendent of Instructional Services Sharon Cuseo, Board of Education Vice President Charlene Tabet, Superintendent Matt Hill, Board of Education President Steve Frintner, Walt Disney Elementary School Principal Molly Hwang, BUSD Director of Facilities Larry Cross, Assistant Superintendent of Administrative Services Debbie Kukta and Director of Elementary Education Peter Knapik celebrate groundbreaking for a new two-story building expansion. ( Photo by Ross A Benson)

Walt Disney Elementary School celebrated the official groundbreaking for the installation of a new two-story modular building on Wednesday morning, April 14.

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Principal Molly Hwang welcomed Burbank Board of Education President Steve Frintner and Vice President Charlene Tabet to the groundbreaking ceremony along with Burbank Unified School District officials including Superintendent Matt Hill, Assistant Superintendent of Instructional Services Sharon Cuseo, Assistant Superintendent of Administrative Services Debbie Kukta, Director of Elementary Education Peter Knapik and Director of Facilities Larry Cross.

The Burbank Unified School District broadcast the groundbreaking ceremony live via their Facebook page.

“Today is monumental day for the Disney community, as we are embarking on a new and highly anticipated chapter in our school’s history – the expansion of our school,” Hwang said. “This beautiful building will provide a solid structure for years to come while opening up our footprint.”

“This new construction will provide a place for teachers to bring out the best in our students, to inspire them with the love of learning, and to create a space that provides a sense of community and belonging,” she continued.

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“The only thing that is truly missing on this special occasion is our students, staff and their families,” Hwang added. “And although they are not physically here with us, I know many may be watching from home.”

“I want to personally thank the community of Burbank for supporting Measure S,” she also said. “In doing so, this generous community said YES to building bright and beautiful futures for the children of Burbank, and the students of Disney. Thank you for that gift.”

The funds to pay for the new two-story modular building expansion at Disney Elementary came from monies raised from the Measure S Bond initiative passed by Burbank voters in 2013. A number of projects have been completed at multiple BUSD school sites over the years. Reports on completed projects can be found on the BUSD website.

(from left to right) Superintendent Matt Hill, Board of Education President Steve Frintner, Board of Education Vice President Charlene Tabet and Disney Elementary Prinicpal Molly Hwang prepare to break ground on the new two-story building expansion project.( Photo by Ross A Benson)

“We’re very happy to be here, breaking ground on the Disney Elementary project,” Frintner said at the celebration. “This will be the last major project that will be done with funds raised from the sale of bonds approved by the passage of Measure S in 2013.”

“With the bond funds, we have been able make desperately needed improvements to the infrastructure of the district. Not just new classrooms, here at Disney and at several other sites, but also new network infrastructure, 21st Century classrooms, computers, HVAC systems, LED Lighting, asphalt, Energy Management Systems and much more.”

“For all of that, I’d like to thank the voters of Burbank. Without your support, without your recognition of the needs of our district, none of these improvements would have been able to have been done,” Frintner continued. “Our students, our staff and our community have greatly benefited from your understanding and support, and for that you have the unending gratitude of all of us on the School Board.”

“I would also like to thank all those who have served and are currently serving on the School Facilities Oversight Committee. The SFOC has made sure bond funds were spent within the guidelines established by Measure S and have acted as the voice of the community. We appreciate their commitment to serving the district.”

“This is an exciting milestone,” commented Hill after the groundbreaking ceremony. “We want to thank the community again for their support of Measure S and cannot wait to welcome students, employees, and families to the building when it is completed.”

MyBurbank examined the years-long, oft-delayed project in depth in late November 2020.

Superintendent Matt Hill speaks during the Disney Elementary School groundbreaking on Wednesday, April 14. ( Photo by Ross A Benson)

District officials held an online Town Hall for Disney Elementary stakeholders on March 3 to update staff and families on the project’s progress, sharing the anticipated timeline with the community.

From March 15 to April 21, the the existing build site and field are being demolished. From April 21 to June 7, concrete foundation will be installed. The modules are expected to be delivered and prepped between May 7 and 21. The modules will be set onto the foundation between June 7 and 20.

An expanded view of the construction timeline and an FAQ from the March 3 Town Hall can be viewed online.

Most recently, the playground has been dismantled and stored for reinstallation once the site work is complete, according to Cross’ report on April 2. Silver Creek, the builder constructing the modular units off site, is nearing 95% completion on the build.

At the groundbreaking celebration, Cross noted the new building will house classrooms, new student and staff restrooms, library, computer lab, classrooms, specialty services rooms, a custodial closet and a combo data/electrical room, along with an elevator and updated ADA features. The new grass field and new playground area will both double in size when completed.

A safety fence has been erected around the entire work site. Plans are for the majority of noise-producing work to be completed over the summer. Classrooms closest to the construction area have been relocated to other areas on campus.

The new two-story building will be located along Clark Avenue on south-east area of the Disney Elementary school site. Some temporary street closures and no street parking areas will occur intermittently on Orange Grove and surrounding streets throughout the project, ranging from a few hours up to a few days at most, officials communicated at March 3 Town Hall.

While officials hope for student occupancy of the new building by March of 2022, a more cautious outlook aims for August 2022. Updates on the ongoing build can be found on the BUSD Facilities webpage.

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