Reynolds Oceanside 6413587ebe122

Oceanside (Calif.) board votes to close elementary because of unsafe soil conditions

March 16, 2023
Soil tests at Reynolds Elementary showed the school buildings are at risk of sinking in the event of an earthquake.

Despite protests from students, parents and staff members, the Oceanside (Calif.) school board has voted to close Reynolds Elementary School because of potentially unstable ground conditions.

The Coast News reports that the board to shutter the campus at the end of the school year acted after district administrators alerted families that soil tests had determined the campus was unsuitable for the school’s planned reconstruction. The tests detected the presence of water created the potential for soil liquefaction, a loss of ground strength that causes soil to liquefy in the event of an earthquake.

Staff recommended closing the school, but parents, students and staff at Reynolds Elementary urged the board to save the school.

MTGL Inc., a geotechnical engineering firm that tested the site in preparation for the school’s modernization, drilled multiple holes throughout the campus and found water at a depth of 10.5 feet.

Although engineers found the existing buildings to be structurally safe, the facilities are no longer up to code and could sink if an earthquake were to occur.

MTGL's findings were supported by a second engineering company. Reza Saeedzadeh of Atlas Geotechnical told the board his firm analyzed the data and agreed with MTGL’s conclusions.

“The safety of our students and staff is our highest priority both for those attending now and in the future,” said Communications Director Donald Bendz in a statement on behalf of the district.  “We know that everyone had their hearts set on modernizing this campus and understand the disappointment the community may be feeling.”

The district had planned to spend nearly $49 million to rebuild Reynolds with permanent buildings. The campus, built in 1986, now consists of primarily portable buildings.

About the Author

Mike Kennedy | Senior Editor

Mike Kennedy, senior editor, has written for AS&U on a wide range of educational issues since 1999.

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