My Turn: Using every inch of education center | SierraSun.com

My Turn: Using every inch of education center

Laurie Martin

During a recent meeting at the Sierra Mountain Community Education Center, formerly Sierra Mountain Middle School, I was surprised to overhear someone say that they did not realize that the campus was currently being utilized.

They were shocked to find the facility buzzing and alive with children and adults attending activities ranging from state-sponsored preschool to the senior meal program. It truly underscores the fact that while most people realize that high-quality school facilities are crucial to the education of Truckee’s children, we rarely stop to think about them as an essential resource for the entire community.

At a meeting in late February, the Town of Truckee issued a Council Proclamation which formally recognized the Tahoe Truckee Unified School District for opening its doors to the community during crises such as the recent winter storm emergencies. In fact, the Sierra Mountain Community Education Center frequently serves as a safe haven for stranded motorists during winter storms, but it also housed several hundred CDF firefighters during this summer’s firestorms.

In response to the flood that destroyed the kitchen at the Senior Center in January 2007, TTUSD opened the facility to the senior meals program, which served hot lunches to seniors every weekday for over a year.

But the use of Sierra Mountain Community Education Center extends way beyond a community emergency response facility. Those who are under the impression that the campus is vacant or abandoned should be pleased to discover that it houses the Family Resource Center of Truckee, provides gym space to numerous athletic activities and is home to several educational programs.

These programs include early learning activities for parents and children 0-5 funded by Nevada County First Five, the Truckee State Preschool and the Special Education Preschool, English and Spanish language classes for adults, the district’s Coldstream Independent Study program, and two vocational education programs: Sierra College’s Mechatronics and Placer County Office of Education’s Regional Occupation Program fire science class in partnership with the Truckee Fire Department.

In addition, the facility is used by two churches for worship services on the weekends and houses five school district departments, due to structural concerns at the current district office. Most of the district’s staff development activities take place here as well as district board meetings.

Based on the town’s projected population growth over the next ten years, it is likely that the facility will be called back into becoming a school site. In the meantime, however, Truckee should be proud of the Sierra Mountain Community Education Center. We are truly using every inch of the property to serve all ages in our community. Stop by and see for yourself!