Truckee schools to shuffle sites? | SierraSun.com

Truckee schools to shuffle sites?

Christine Stanley
Sierra Sun

Jason Kelley/Sierra SunTahoe Truckee High School's new gym is undergoing final construction.

The new North Lake Tahoe Middle and High School campus is nearly complete and will soon be crossed off the Tahoe Truckee Unified School District’s to-do list.

However, the list of facilities in need of attention is growing and come fall the district’s board will need to finalize a five-year facilities plan that includes more major projects.

On the lake side of the district, construction needs are minimal, said Facilities Director John Britto, save for some asphalt repairs and possible future classroom modifications for vocational programs at the high school. The Truckee picture, however, is a bit more complicated.

There is a facilities tug-of-war, of sorts, occurring in Truckee, said Britto, where the district office is in need of repair or replacement, Truckee Elementary is close to capacity and Tahoe Truckee High School is in need of a possible expansion. The old Sierra Mountain Middle School campus, meanwhile, is being looked to as the catch-all facility.

“The district office has become a real issue,” Britto said. “What happens at [Sierra Mountain Middle School] is tied to what happens at the district office, and what happens at the district office, is tied to what happens at Truckee Elementary and Truckee High.”

As it stands, the district office is in need of either renovation or evacuation, said facilities planner and fiscal analyst Todd Rivera. The roof needs to be reinforced and there is double the recommended weight allowance on the second floor. The facility, which was built in the 1970s, does not meet public access standards.

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The options for the district are either to retrofit the building to the tune of $2 million or build a new facility altogether for about $5 million ” not including land ” and tear down the existing one, Rivera said.

Meanwhile, the facilities and special education departments, which have been operating out of the second floor of the district office, are boxing up and moving into space at Sierra Mountain Middle School, now unofficially called the Sierra Mountain Community Education Center. A third, though less likely option for the district, is to move all of their offices into the old middle school.

Then there is the decision about what to do with Truckee Elementary ” one of the few schools in the district with an increasing enrollment ” when its capacity level finally bubbles over in the next five to 10 years.

Sierra Mountain Middle School provides a number of viable options for Truckee Elementary, said vice principal Corine Harvey. The campus could become a primary learning center for preschoolers and kindergartners, it could absorb the fourth- and fifth-grade classes, or it could serve as a magnet school.

The other option is to leave the old middle school campus open to district and community needs and build an addition to Truckee Elementary. That option requires space, and the only space in which to expand sits right under the faltering district office, located tightly between Truckee Elementary and Truckee High.

Sooner or later something will need to be done, Britto said, but plotting a timeline and finding adequate funding seems to be a moving target.

“We don’t have enough money to do everything on the list,” Britto said. “Trying to go out for a bond isn’t likely; we could take out a certificate of participation but we would have to use a school site as collateral. We’re always looking for other sources of funding.”

The facilities plan will be circulated to the town and public in September, followed by board action in October, Britto said. However, the board will not necessarily mandate a timeline or budget for the tasks, said board member Mel Cone.

The Tahoe Truckee Unified School District’s master facilities plan is due for approval by the board in October. A large portion of the plan is focused around needs for expansion at Truckee Elementary School and at the district office, and determining a plan but a number of other needs are also on the wish list, including:

– More fencing and security cameras at Kings Beach Elementary

– Construction and renovation of athletic fields at Tahoe Truckee High School

– Improve the football stadium at North Tahoe High School

– Improve parking and auto circulation at Tahoe Lake school

– Build a new school bus garage