Oceanside school board votes to close Reynolds Elementary School
Despite public comments in support of keeping Reynolds Elementary School open, the Oceanside Unified School District board voted to close the school during a special board meeting Monday evening.
The Oceanside school board voted 3-1 to close Reynolds at the end of this school year.
Board member Eleanor Evans abstained and Trustee Nancy Licona voted against the closure.
Over 200 people packed into the auditorium at Cesar Chavez Middle School ahead of the decision.
"As you can see and feel there is a lot of passion and heart in this room. And that is reflective of our community at Reynolds. There is so much heart and passion for our school and our scholars," said one parent during public comment.
Another parent told the board, "We stand before you now knowing you are faced to make a choice and hold all the power over our kids, our amazing teachers and incredible staff that make Reynolds our second home."
The closure comes after engineers planning to renovate the school found soil liquefaction happening on the property. During an earthquake, the jolt of the movement could make the buildings sink.
The news was a blow for parents who were excited for the school's renovation.
Some parents asked for more time to review the 176 page report released Friday evening.
"It is not right for you to release the full geotechnical report one or two days before this meeting for no independent review, that's not right. There are independent scientists within this community that would like to go through every single last bit of that report," said one speaker.
A representative with the Human Rights Council of Oceanside spoke about the access to the report for Spanish speaking families. "Your report isn't even in Spanish or accessible to the community. I asked for it when I came in. Do you realize?" she asked the board members. "When I came in, I asked for the report and they told me they didn't know where I could access it. That's unacceptable."
Engineers did present mitigation options, but any mitigation would still require all students to move off campus for three to four years.
Board president Raquel Alvarez said, for her, the decision came down to safety.
"I don't want to worry that a student would get hurt because they fell into a hole ... or the building shifts just enough, and they trip and hit their head or something," she said.
After the meeting, Reynolds parent Ashley Gerdo said, "Tonight we weren't here to ask to remodel or not remodel. We were asking for more time. A decision to place 566 children in a couple months’ time is not enough time for us to debrief our children, for us to get mental health in order, for us to get transportation in order, it's not enough time."
Another special board meeting will be held on March 23 to discuss the plan to relocate staff and students.