Tight fit in Glenshire; Classroom expansion concerns neighborhood residents
Some Glenshire-Devonshire homeowners are at a crossroads over what to do with new relocatable classrooms being proposed by the Tahoe-Truckee Unified School District.
At the district meeting last night, John Britto, TTUSD facilities manager, recommended slowing the decision making process down to make sure all of the district’s options at the Glenshire Elementary School are weighed.
There are two options proposed for the installation by the district. The original plan was to install the classrooms in the area currently occupied by the baseball diamond and field to the left of it. The district heard feedback on that plan and proposed a second plan, which would include placing the classrooms in the open space area immediately north of the school site. The district again heard feedback on this plan as the land legally belongs to the homeowners in the subdivision.
“Originally we were planning on installing eight relocatables this year,” Britto said. “Because of all the feedback, I think it would be better to wait and install maybe two to four classrooms on a temporary basis.”
One Glenshire resident said he doesn’t believe that temporary status is good enough.
“The school district hasn’t proposed anything to the homeowners and this is wrong,” said homeowner John Curtis. “If our open spaces are handed over for the classrooms, this will set a dangerous precedent.”
Curtis said he is attempting to rally other homeowners to get involved in this decision. He said the district’s plans are in direct contrast to the town’s vision statement and town ordinances.
“People who don’t live in Glenshire think this is only a Glenshire problem,” he said. “But it’s not. If the Town of Truckee can take this land from the Glenshire homeowners, other lands will be taken in the future, possibly for other districts.”
More to consider
Curtis said there are more options than just the two discussed by the district. His options include year-round schooling, putting the modulars on school grounds near to the entrance of the school, stacking the modulars to save space, or using the ballfields for the modulars and moving the recreational area into the greenbelt.
“These are all viable options,” he said.
“Once classrooms are installed in the greenbelt, the open space will never be the same.”
Britto said the land can be reclaimed by replacing the vegetation.
“What about the drainage in that area?” he asked. “Juniper Hills drains into the open space and once the land is graded to handle the drainage needs in this area, the land will never be the same.”
“There’s really no good choice,” Britto said. “The district supports that the open space is the best location educationally.”
Educationally means the students can access the main building more easily. The classrooms would be closer to the bathrooms, the computer room and library. If the classrooms are installed in the ballfields, students would have to travel a farther distance to the school.
Although Britto suggested taking time to decide on where the relocatables need to be installed, he said decisions about classrooms need to be made soon.
“There are so many variables right now,” he said. “Class-size reduction and year-round schooling are two issues that will be addressed within the year and they could change our needs drastically.
“All we really want to do now is ask for the space that might be needed for relocatables. We won’t install them immediately, but we are planning on future growth.”
The increase in the number of elementary and middle school students has prompted discussion about the construction of a new school and is facilitating a special election for a bond to finance the construction of a new middle school.
“This won’t happen for at least another four years,” Britto said. “Until then, relocatables are the only thing releasing the pressure of overcrowding classrooms.”
“We have a big bubble of students passing through right now, but we are confident that we can handle the students once they reach high school. There are more options for facility changes at the high schools.”
Curtis said what will relieve pressure now, could spoil recreational space for the homeowners forever.
“They have named the landswap as a ‘license agreement’ which doesn’t qualify as a lease or a purchase of the land,” Curtis said. “The homeowners association said if it’s not going to be sold or leased there is no vote (by the homeowners) required.”
Attorney Brent Collinson, who has been retained by several homeowners, said this agreement is far beyond the scope of a license agreement. He explained that license agreements are generally used for personal use and can be revoked at any time.
“This means that a new homeowners board could walk in and decide they want the land back,” he said. “This would be after the school district spent hundreds of thousands on new facilities. I don’t think this a good decision for the homeowners or the district.
“It is our position that the decision should go to the homeowners for a binding vote – not an advisory vote.”
Geoff Stephens, Glenshire-Devonshire Homeowners Association general manager, said no decision has been made in reference to the modulars.
“The school board hasn’t sat down with our board,” he said. “Until we know exactly what the district is planning, we aren’t deciding on anything.”
Stephens said if the district decides to proceed with its option to build on the subdivision’s land, the decision will go to voting homeowners.
“Whatever is decided, nothing will happen this year,” Stephens said. “With all the legalities and such, nothing would be settled until next year.”
He added that all the school board has discussed with him is its plans to install at least four modulars this year. He said he didn’t know where the district was going to put them, but he said he is sure it won’t be on the homeowners’ open space.
Also discussed at the meeting was the district’s intention to establish School Facilities Improvement District No. 2, to address the needs of lakeside schools in Placer and El Dorado counties.
Similar to Improvement District No. 1, which is focused on Truckee’s schools, it will prompt a special election to meet the financial needs of the district through a bond measure.
Priorities within the scope of this district are:
— New classroom space at Kings Beach Elementary.
— Modernization of North Tahoe Middle and High School, Kings Beach Elementary School, and Tahoe Lake Elementary School, including the modernization of the heating system at the North Tahoe schools.
— Construction of a gym and performing arts center at North Tahoe Middle and High schools.
— Provide technology upgrades at all Tahoe schools.
— Construct a bus shelter and garage at Kings Beach Elementary.
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