Aging Dublin school suffers new leaks over holiday break

Staff and students in Dublin were greeted by an unwelcome surprise after Thanksgiving break: water damage. Dublin Elementary School had ceiling panels collapse due to an influx of rain runoff. 

Parents and teachers say it's not a new problem, and brought their frustration to a school board meeting Monday night. 

"You all work for my children," said parent Jasmin Shroder, "and if I find out mold or something else is making my seven-year-old son sick, I'm sending you the bill." 

Shroder and other critics scolded trustees for more than an hour about their spending priorities and unfulfilled promises. 

"This is my child," said parent Winnie Light, holding up a school portrait of her daughter. "This is her last year in second grade when water was dripping on her head at math time and she said it wasn't a big deal because it happened off and on for weeks."

Dublin Elementary School is almost 60 years old and showing its age. 

Monday, large fans were running in at least four areas where water had poured in, saturating instructional areas, and leaving gaping holes overhead.  

"No one should have to work and learn in an environment where ceiling tiles and water can fall on them at any time of the day, this is unacceptable," said Jennifer McCort, a Dublin High School teacher who has elementary-age children.   

The school superintendent said activities were moved temporarily while repairs are made. 

"One problem with the roof was a clogged drain," said Superintendent Dave Marken," and so that drain was cleared and we believe that was the issue."  

But critics say the issue is deeper than a drain, or a single storm.  

They point to years of problems at a campus that is deteriorating and needs rehabilitation. 

At least two previous bond measures have promised funds for Dublin Elementary, but other projects were accelerated instead. 

"I voted for all of the bonds, I've been a resident since 2005, and I previously trusted the board," said parent Kristen Speck," but how do I trust the five of you to do the right thing with future bond money?" 

Dublin is growing dramatically. Classrooms at all levels are overcrowded and new schools are needed. 

The purpose of Monday's special meeting was to approve a new $290 million bond measure for the March 2020 ballot. 

But the board was chastized for fundraising for new schools while it fails an existing one.  

"How could you even think it was okay for you to neglect Dublin Elementary for the sake of a second high school?" exclaimed parent Terri Dyer.

The board was split 2-2 last month on a vote to allocate renovation money for the elementary campus. 

"I'm hearing what everybody's saying," said trustee Dan Cherrier, one of the opposing votes whose position softened. 

"I would not want my kid to have water falling on their head every day, that's not right," said Cherrier. 

After a five-hour meeting, the board not only voted unanimously to put a new bond issue up to voters, but to earmark $30-40 million to bring Dublin Elementary up to modern standards. 

About $9 million of that money will come from a previous bond, Measure C.  Almost $24 million will come from state matching funds. Another $10 million, if needed, will come from the 2020 bond issue, if passed. 

It will take a few years to accomplish, but it was the commitment many parents were hoping for.