The school year has begun at North Park Elementary in San Bernardino
The school year has begun at North Park Elementary in San Bernardino
The school year has begun at North Park Elementary in San Bernardino
The school year has begun at North Park Elementary in San Bernardino
The school year has begun at North Park Elementary in San Bernardino

Redesign transforms San Bernardino, Calif., school where teacher and student were killed

Aug. 8, 2017
$1.5 million upgrade of North Park Elementary helps school begin a new chapter.

Four months after a teacher’s estranged husband shot her, two students and himself at North Park Elementary School in San Bernardino, Calif., the campus has been redesigned to ease bad memories.

Classes resumed at the campus Monday.

The Inland Valley Daily Bulletin reports that North Park has been refreshed and remodeled over the summer, 

On April 10, Cedric Anderson, 53, of Riverside, entered the special education classroom of his estranged wife, Karen Smith, and opened fire, killing her and 8-year-old student Jonathan Martinez, and wounding Nolan Brandy, 9.

Security camera footage showed that Anderson signed in at the front desk and told office staff he was there to drop something off for his wife. Once inside the classroom, he didn’t say a word before pulling out a gun and firing, striking Smith and the students. He then shot himself.

The school was closed for a week after the shooting. When it reopened, additional security measures were in place. Instant background checks were required for visitors. But more substantial upgrades came during the renovations.

North Park, which opened in 1968, had been showing its age. Movable dividers, rather than walls, separated classrooms. A curtain covered the entrance to Smith’s classroom.

“The community wanted an enclosed classroom,” says Tom Pace, director of Facilities Planning and Development for the San Bernardino City Unified School District. “We had to peel back the ceilings to add the walls. The ceilings weren’t seismically braced, so we had to replace the ceilings. So we started with the walls and chased it back as far as we had to.”

Each classroom now has walls lined with tempered glass windows. The classrooms have steel doors, which teachers can lock from the inside. And all classrooms now have a door that leads outside, as required by state law.

But it’s not just security that’s been upgraded. The school has been given a facelift.

North Park’s 49-year-old, brick-red paint scheme, used both inside and out, has been replaced with blocks of gray, gold and teal on walls and floors. Even the portable classrooms have been repainted to match.

Dark cork ceilings have replaced by white ceilings illuminated with LEDs.

Between classrooms are new collaborative spaces with magnetic walls that function as dry-erase whiteboards.

Classroom B1, where Smith taught, has been transformed.

Using it as a classroom again “was off the table,” says Yadira Downing, North Park principal.

Instead, its walls have been taken down and it’s been turned into a maker space where students can work on innovative projects. 

North Park’s upgrade is costing the district about $1.5 million, according to Pace. Although the school was on the long-term list for modernization and improvements, April’s shooting moved it to the top of the list.

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