District approves Diamond View move
At the end of a three-hour meeting, the trustees unanimously decided to create three schools on two campuses — keeping McKinley School at a K-3 school and housing both Meadow View and Diamond View schools on the Meadow View School campus.
While SSD Superintendent Gary McIntire proposed five possible alternatives, the board followed his recommendation and approved the least costly alternative.
Trustee Amy Cain said, “This is the biggest, most important decision we’ve made in the last five years at least.”
Many of those who attended the meeting argued for other options or encouraged the board not to rush to judgment. Then a few of them angrily expressed their displeasure with the board’s decision.
“At what cost?” one parent yelled after the vote. “Our children!”
“Sounds to me like the decision was made before we got here,” one father blurted out.
“You didn’t listen to a thing we said,” one mother screamed.
“We could have just stayed home,” another parent said.
As the teachers, parents and students left the room, one parent who had addressed the board during the public comment portion of the meeting returned to the microphone and said, “I’d like to thank the board for having the courage to stand up and make this decision.”
Many parents were concerned about how the younger students would co-exist with the older middle-school students and what effect their interaction would have on the younger students.
Others praised the middle-school experience and said it offered a wonderful opportunity that prepared students for high school.
During the meeting one parent in the audience wondered out loud why the fire department hadn’t noticed the deficiencies in the building for so many years and why the conditions at the school had suddenly become an issue.
“Who was pushing this thing under the rug for the past 30 years?”
Another parent immediately responded this is not the time to play the blame game; this is the time to move forward.
On March 20 the Susanville Fire Department declared the campus was unsafe for students, faculty and staff. The district made some temporary modifications to the campus to allow the school to operate through the end of this school year, and the trustees had to decide what to do with the students for the next two or three years while it tries to figure out a way to remodel or rebuild Susanville’s only middle school.
McIntire told the board the district had to deal with the aftermath of decisions that were made 40 years ago and work that was completed by “people with good intentions” 30 years ago.
He said parts of Diamond View School were constructed in an open-classroom format popular in the 1960s.
When that format provided unsatisfactory, someone remodeled the school and divided the open rooms into classrooms.
Unfortunately, McIntire said the construction, completed to home-building standards, did not meet state standards for schools and was not approved the state architect. He said the state architect must approve the plans for all school buildings.
That substandard construction led to the SFD’s decision the building was unsafe.
“We must deal with this problem,” McIntire said. “I recommend the board take action tonight.”
He said the decision was not about closing a school, and the district had to make a decision as soon as possible to give the district time to secure portable classrooms for the Diamond View students this fall.
McIntire’s analysis included five possible alternatives, but when John Murrer, the board president, said the option to move the Diamond View students to the Meadow View campus was the one the superintendent liked the best, McIntire corrected him and said it was “the option I dislike the most.”
The other options included consolidating McKinley and Meadow View schools into two K-8 schools; housing Diamond View School students in portable classrooms on the Diamond View School campus; moving Diamond View School to the Meadow View School campus using portable classrooms and continuing McKinley and Meadow View schools as K-6 schools; and creating three schools on two campuses and using additional support facilities for Diamond View School.
The estimated costs of these alternatives ranged from $383,657 for the option approved by the trustees to $1.3 million.
McIntire noted all money spent on these alternatives would be “lost” and not available to use for the eventual reconstruction of the school.
As McIntire noted, the board’s decision to move the Diamond View School students to Meadow View School is only a temporary solution.
McIntire recommended the district convene a facility use committee comprised of two teacher representatives for each of the current school (a total of six), four classified representatives, two administrative representatives, three parent representatives and at least one student representative.
This committee would recommend a long-range plan to the board. The district would then develop a facility master plan that will drive all long-range modernization and school construction planning.
McIntire also said he plans to put a school bond measure on the November ballot to provide funding for the new construction at Diamond View School.
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