VIDEO: Alameda community furious over possibility of elementary school closing


ALAMEDA (KRON) — An Alameda community is furious over the possibility that an elementary school is shutting down.

School officials say that the building is not earthquake safe. But parents at Donald D. Lum Elementary School are skeptical about the new data.

Emotions are running high among elementary parents. The tight-knit community came to this meeting for answers after being told this week that the school may be shutting down for safety reasons.

“Shock, disbelief, it’s a family,” parent Kate Ruggiero said. “It’s not just a school. It’s a community. It’s tight-knit, and to just get this notice basically six weeks essentially, and the school is closing. It’s heart-breaking really.”

District officials had planned to build new classrooms and in the process say they found the building to be unsafe in the event of an earthquake.

“Before you do any kind of new construction on the school site, the state mandates that we take samples of the soil to check just for this, for seismic safety,” Alameda Unified School District spokeswoman Susan Davis said. “We did not know, and that’s because you really only have to test the soil when you are starting to do some kind of a structural alteration on the site or start new construction.”

Five-hundred students and 50 staff members would be spread out through the district.

“She’s very confused and very upset about it,” parent Cassandra Bissett said. “She really wants to keep it open and stay with her friends. She’s worried that if she goes to another school, she’s going to lose most of her friends.”

“This is the community that I always thought I would have when I had kids,” parent Jennifer Ekman said. “It’s diverse. It’s welcoming. It’s accepting.”

At a meeting Friday night, parents were skeptical about the information they were getting. The seismic expert present couldn’t answer some of the school board’s questions, saying they weren’t in his expertise.

And that made parents sigh and shake their heads.

“There are a lot of engineers whose children attend Lum and they’ve been doing their own research,” Ekman said. “And they feel a lot of the data is grossly inaccurate and overestimated and so we’re hoping that the truth will come out tonight.”

It’s clear that this community is not letting this school be broken up without a fight. But it’s the school board that will decide this issue.

The school district tells KRON4 their vote is expected in the coming weeks.

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