A better solution for relocating the CUSD Service Center

by Joe Salas

On Thursday, February 7, the CUSD School Board received a presentation on surplus property in the district and its corollary issue of transitioning the Service Center, which is currently located adjacent to the old district building on Base Line Road.

The presentation was convincing in its focus that the current need for such a large facility is changing. The current needs of the district could be met with a smaller facility. The current Service Center houses a warehouse, the Grounds and Maintenance Department and a fleet of about 18 work trucks, along with an assortment of trailers, tractors and a forklift.

There was one concern regarding the proposal for a new Service Center: the location. The new 19,500-square-foot space would be located in the northeastern corner of San Antonio High School. There are a few reasons why this would be troubling. First, the city of Claremont and the CUSD take pride in their green spaces. However, this green space is not just for scenery.

There is a pedagogical and social dimension to the space. If a resident were to drive by during the course of the school day, they would see softball games taking place and young people running around to help fulfill physical education or elective credits for requirements towards graduation.

Teachers use the space for lessons, too. This is literally part of their athletic grounds. San Antonio High School has a small facility and taking any more of it away would not be the wisest choice for our students.

Instead, there are other alternative solutions to finding a new location and meeting the current and future needs of the school district.

During the presentation at the school board meeting, it was discussed that most of the work completed by the district’s Maintenance Department is done at the individual school sites, completed on or near a truck. With this in mind, the district could have a more decentralized system where every truck is assigned to a particular school site. Personnel are assigned to specific campuses already. This would keep fuel costs down and might improve reaction time for requests for service.

It was argued that having the Service Center located at San Antonio High School would improve services to other school sites. However, if this were one of the main considerations for relocating the Service Center, then wouldn’t Claremont High School be a better location since it is closer to other schools in the district?

With a decentralized fleet, more space could be accommodated at the district office for vehicles that are used less frequently and to store portable buildings. Board member Hilary LaConte remarked that more discussion is needed in the future regarding the proposal.

The decision was made many decades ago to have the Service Center located away from a school site.

While the nature of the Service Center is changing and there is less activity with the storage of materials and equipment, the idea that more frequent trips by vehicles to a school site may impact instruction at San Antonio High School should be a major concern for the school district when considering the possible relocation of the Service Center.

Any encroachment of green space is a loss to all present and future students of San Antonio High School.

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