BARSTOW — As local parents and students jump into back-to-school season with supply shopping and sleep schedule adjusting, Barstow Unified School District teachers and administrators are busy prepping for the start of the academic year.

With 30 newly hired teachers on board and a plan underway for district-wide facility modernization, the district is “looking forward to a fantastic year,” BUSD Superintendent Jeff Malan said.

California voters approved Proposition 51 in November, providing $9 billion in state school bond funds for construction and modernization. Though small and rural districts like BUSD sometimes struggle to see significant amounts from state bonds, recent initiatives made them eligible for construction funds if they didn’t have enough space for current or future students, and modernization funds if their buildings were at least 25 years old.

The first three local schools that will be modernized are all in the 50-year-old range, according to Malan. These are Skyline North Elementary, Crestline Elementary and Barstow Junior High School.

“These schools have never been modernized since their original construction,” Malan said. “The biggest thing we talk about is infrastructure — which relates to water, gas, electric — those things that are typically underground that you can’t see, but that our vital to a school’s operation.”

Along with the infrastructure changes, the project will include in-classroom modernization to accommodate “21st century environments,” Malan said.

The project will span four to five years to modernize all 10 district schools and will take place one school at a time, with students of the school being moved to an interim campus.

“... it’s cost-effective and much more advantageous for student safety … to put them at an interim campus so the construction team can come in and modernize the school without working around students,” Malan said.

Meanwhile, BUSD is also making plans for the hiring and curriculum setting of its newest K-6 school, the Barstow Fine Arts Academy, which is set to open in August next year.

“You’re looking at a staff of about 50 people for a school with approximately 600 students,” Malan said. “Some will be hired internally while others will be hired from the outside.”

Current BUSD staff just completed a week of professional development, with teachers' first day back having started Monday, a day before the first day of school.

Charity Lindsey may be contacted at clindsey@vvdailypress.com or 760-951-6245. Follow her on Twitter @DP_Charity.