Jefferson Elementary School To Be Closed for 2011-2012 School Year

By Mario Conde

The Calexico Unified School District board voted to move students from Jefferson Elementary School to Blanche Charles due to newly found damages due to the 2010 Easter Sunday earthquake.

Originally. the Jefferson Elementary School remodelization project was scheduled to be finished by December 2011 and have student occupancy by February 2012. However, due to recently found damages to non-weight-bearing walls at Jefferson Elementary School resulting from the April 10, 2010 7.2 earthquake, it was decided to move students to the west side of Caleixco to continue with the 2011-12 school year. Jefferson students that are in Kinder and first grade will be moved to Dool Elemenary. Fragale is hopeful that all repairs will be finished by April 2012.

Superintendent Richard Fragale said that electricity needed to be shutdown since its needs to be re-wired and that would cost of hundreds of dollars to repair.The district will have to displace over 500 students in modular classrooms located at the original Blanche Charles Elementary School/Robert Morales Adult Education Center sites for the upcoming school year.

The District inspected the modules and it was found that the fire alarm system was unoperable, requiring the necessary repairs and installation of the equipment. The fire alarm system is a life safety requirment by the Department of State Arquitects.  The Board of Education approved the emergency purchase of fire alarm equipment from Standard Electronics in the amount of $85,300. The vote was 4-1 having Trustee Kim the only one opposing it.

Trustee Joong Kim wanted to table this item at the beginning of the meeting since he argued that the District needs to have a meeting with parents since they need to have information about this change that could have negative effects on the children. Kim questioned as to why the district is putting the parents aside and not taking their concerns.

Calexico resident Chris De La Rosa asked the board to take action as soon as possible since Jeffersn staff is coming back to work in three weeks. De la Rosa said that waiting to have meeting will make things more difficult for the kids and teachers. Jefferson Teacher Elsa Chairez asked the board that if they are moving they should keep their Principal Lucio Padilla and Julia Gamboa as administrators at Jefferson Elemantary since they have been excellent leaders for the school. Chairez mentioned how the school overcame the challenge of the massive 7.2 earthquake and will face the challenge of moving  to temporality location.

“We ’re still going to be the Jefferson Tigers, but if we  are going to move to another location you need to keep the team togheter.” Chairez said.