SALINAS- Earthquakes are a fact of life for schools built in California. But a state list indicates that many school buildings may not be up to seismic standards.
Recently the non-profit watchdog group, California Watch, did an investigation into what schools are up to standard. 37 Monterey County School got questionable marks, at least 10 in Salinas.
We'll start with San Benancio Middle School which is on the state's list for seismic hazards --- which they call ab300. Five projects, (which means buildings or portables) were listed with serious seismic hazards.
I spoke with the superintendent from Washington Union School District, who oversees San Benancio Middle School. She told me when they got the report they got right to work- MAJOR RENNOVATIONS WERE DONE between 2002-2007. Now all the buildings are up to code.
Tora Elementary School is also in the Washington Union School District. It was also listed with one violation and the superintendent also says is now fixed.
Next, we move to North Salinas High School. The school had to revamp some of its older buildings built in the 1950's. Karen Luna, with this school district said the buildings are up to code. It's just a matter of getting the stamp of approval from the state. "It is safe our report came back not life threatening.. They do conform to the field act. They are division of state architecture approved buildings"
Now to University Park Elementary School. One project there is red flagged. When I talked with the jerry Stratton, the Assistant Superintendent, he said point blank the info the state has is outdated! "I think the AB300 list has some dated information on it that are probably no longer current for many schools in the state of california. University Park was on that list and years ago there were some non-conforming portables that were removed. This campus is seizmacally solid."
Although University Park Elementary School is fine --- Salinas City Elementary School District has two other schools that aren't up to code yet. "We do have two campuses where we have buildings that we're concerned about. We have 5 classrooms at Natividad Elementary school. Two at Los Padres elementary school. They're not unsafe but because of the seismic standards we are applying to the state to get some emergency funding and tear them down."
I made a call to the state to see where the schools stand with status being updated. So far Central Coast News has not received a response. In the meantime there are 4 more schools on the list to mention. Those include Washington Middle School, La Joya Elementary School, and Alisal High School all are listed with one project outstanding --- again meaning there are still questions on the state's end of whether they are seismically safe. I have tried to contact each of these schools and am waiting for a response.
Lastly, I contacted Echo Valley Elementary --- in the North Monterey County School District.That school is listed as having one project in question. When I spoke with the superintendent she said she wasn't aware the school was on the list.
We'll obviously be following up with that school --- as well as move further into Monterey county and check on those schools.
Briana Bermensolo, Center for Investigative Action, Central Coast News.