The white stripe across the top of the mural is slated to be restored in the summer of 2014. Photo by Andra Cernavskis

Someone who has wandered along the backside of Cesar Chavez Elementary School on Folsom in the past few months may have noticed that the mural commemorating the school’s namesake has a disruptive large white stripe across the length of its top.

The stripe represents a newly plastered section of the mural that had suffered from water damage. It is now awaiting restoration that will most likely happen sometime in the summer of 2014.

Precita Eyes Muralists originally painted the mural in 1995 after the school changed its name from Hawthorne Elementary. Even then, said Precita’s executive director and founder Susan Cervantes, the wall was compromised and the muralists did their best to stabilize it.

“It was like painting on sand,” Cervantes said of the soft stucco.

A few years ago, large pieces of the damaged section began to fall off the wall, creating safety concerns for the school.

“We didn’t want any children to get hurt,” Cervantes said.

School district engineers first removed the stucco from the damaged part of the mural more than a year ago. They then re-plastered the area.

Cervantes said the restoration was supposed to happen over the summer, but instead the school was busy with retrofitting and a project to improve classrooms, offices, and bathrooms.

Efrain Barrera, the senior clerk at Cesar Chavez Elementary School, said that he is unsure when exactly the restoration of the mural will take place, pointing out that the school has had to adapt to the changes that come with construction.

“It is a question everyone is wondering about,” he said. “Everyone wants to restore [the mural] to how it was.”

Precita Eyes restored parts of Chavez’s face and the eagle to his left a few years ago because of cracks caused by the damaged stucco. Parents largely funded this initial restoration, according to Cervantes. The final work will be paid with money set aside from capital bonds.

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Andra Cernavskis is a student at UC Berkeley's Graduate School of Journalism. She is Canadian by birth but grew up in New Jersey and then San Francisco's Miraloma neighborhood. She has also spent time in Toronto, Buffalo, and Montreal. The Mission is one of her favorite neighborhoods, and she is thrilled to be back reporting in San Francisco.

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