Table of Contents


Facilities

Facilities Overview

Reason for Review

The Grand Jury has jurisdiction to investigate and report on the operations, accounts and records of any special legislative districts or other districts in the County pursuant to Section 925 of the Penal Code.

Background

This investigation was conducted in a follow-up capacity to maintenance issues of 1998-1999 and the 1999-2000 Grand Juries.

Methodology

The Grand Jury attended numerous School Board meetings, interviewed staff, reviewed documents, and toured facilities in the process of its investigation.  The following listing represents the research done for both the District/County offices as well as for specific sites. 

Persons interviewed:

Documents examined:

Sites visited:

Facts

1.       A Loss Prevention Survey is conducted on the Amador County Unified School District and the County Office of Education at least every two years.  The Survey is conducted as a requirement of the Tuolumne Joint Powers Authority (JPA), a multi-county organization of which ACUSD/ACOE is a part and through which property and liability insurance is obtained.  This is the largest school district in the JPA.

2.       The Loss Prevention Survey performed by the Tuolumne Joint Powers Authority (JPA) encompasses all of the school sites, the maintenance shops, transportation shops, warehouses and District offices.  The County Community School is not covered.  The 2000 Survey lists safety hazards in three priority categories:  Priority 1 affects life safety, Priority 2 are items of serious property/liability risks, and Priority 3 are risks of slight injury or that may cause injury.  Surveys from the past two years were compared to determine if safety hazards were repeated.

3.       In reviewing the December 2000 ACUSD Loss Prevention Survey, many of the hazard issues are noted as “Previously identified on 1999 Inspection.”  It includes items that are life-safety issues, and many that could easily be remedied.  Many site administrators indicated they were unaware of the findings in the report.

4.       The on-site custodians are all Maintenance I’s or substitute custodians.  Maintenance II’s and III’s, the advanced- and journeyman-level trades workers, operate from a central facility and report to sites in response to work orders.

5.       Each principal is responsible for on-site custodial service and maintenance requests.  Maintenance tasks that cannot be performed by Maintenance I’s are submitted as work order requests to the centralized maintenance department (currently in Ione), and are then prioritized and distributed to the appropriate maintenance personnel.

6.       Eight portable classrooms and two portable restrooms were purchased in 1999 for placement at various school sites.

7.       New emergency procedures have been written and implemented for all school sites, which incorporate lock-in drills as well as evacuation drills.

8.       Managers and site administrators often do not know how much money is in their respective budgets.

9.       Two-way classroom communication systems (telephones, intercoms, etc.) are not available in every school.  Past Grand Jury reports have addressed this as a safety issue.

Findings

1.       Site Administrators were unaware of the Loss Prevention Survey Report or the findings related to their facilities.

2.       The 2000 Loss Prevention Survey Report lists approximately fifty Priority 1 hazards (affecting life safety), thirty of which were also listed in the 1999 Survey.

3.       Site Administrators are not necessarily expert in the evaluation of maintenance needs.  There is little coordination between site administration and maintenance staff in determining the needs of each site.

Recommendations

1.       Provide all site administrators with the Loss Prevention Survey recommendations that affect their facility immediately upon receipt of the Survey by the ACUSD/ACOE.

2.       Remedy immediately all life-safety issues (Priority 1) in the 2000 Loss Prevention Survey.  Designate a specific position at each site to be responsible for assuring compliance with the Survey, attending to hazards in the order prioritized in the Survey.

3.       Ensure the maintenance manager and site administrators meet regularly to determine maintenance needs and establish priorities.

County Community School

Facts

1.       The Community (Court) School is an alternative education program operated by the Amador County Office of Education.  The 1999-2000 Amador County Grand Jury reviewed the County Community School program and facilities.  This review resulted in numerous recommendations pertaining to facilities and administration, including relocating the school.

2.       The County Community School was relocated to a new facility in January of 2001.

Findings

1.       The Amador County Office of Education has done an excellent job resolving the serious issues raised by the 1999-2000 Amador County Grand Jury regarding the County Community School facilities.

Recommendations

No recommendations; no response necessary.

Amador High School

Facts

1.       In 1996 the ACUSD proposed relocation/replacement of an existing portable classroom at the Amador High School site.  The Sutter Creek Fire District reviewed the site’s fire flow availability at that time.  The fire district’s determination was:  “This portable is allowed since it is replacing a portable that is being removed from the site.  Any additional square footage added to this site will require the upgrade of the water system.  The current fire flow is dangerously inadequate for the High School.”

2.       The only sprinkler system in the school is located in the Fine Arts building.

3.       In 1999, with no change in the fire system, the ACUSD requested approval to replace one portable and add one portable to the Amador High School site.  The fire district’s determination was:  “The replacement portable is allowed since it is replacing existing square footage.  The new portable is not allowed because of inadequate fire flow.”

4.       Fire flow measurements by the Amador Water Agency and the Sutter Creek Fire District showed fire flows at this site of between 650 and 850 gallons per minute (gpm).  The Sutter Creek Fire District’s 1996 review determined the per building minimums for the site to be between 1500 gpm and 3500 gpm depending on the size of the building.

5.       Two-way classroom communication systems (telephones, intercoms, etc.) are not available at this school.  Past Grand Jury reports have addressed this as a safety issue.

Findings

1.       The flow of water available to fight fires at Amador High School was cited in 1996 as “dangerously inadequate.”  There has been no improvement since that time.  Current fire flows to this school facility are grossly inadequate.

2.       There is no two-way communication system in place at Amador High School.

3.       Currently there is no water available to the restrooms or sinks at the wood shop.  The water line is broken at the point of entrance to that building.  This happened during the first week of school and has not been repaired.  Consequently, there are no facilities for washing or flushing of skin and eyes despite the use of thinners, paints and solvent materials in the wood shop.

Recommendations

1.       Establish a plan for upgrading the fire suppression system in coordination with the Amador Water Agency and the Sutter Creek Fire District.

2.       Include in the fire plan a timeline for each phase of the upgrade, a cost analysis, and an analysis of funding availability.

3.       Install a two-way communication system to all classrooms.

4.       Repair water lines to the wood-shop building and install safety-washing facilities.

Argonaut High School

Facts

1.       The Regional Occupational Program (ROP) portable that was installed in 2000 has never received the required inspections or gained final construction approval.  Maintenance staff performed the installation, which was done before the compaction test was passed.  Carpeting has been installed over the inspection access holes and classes are being held in the ROP building.

2.       The portable restroom next to the football field was not placed in the site specified in the architect’s original plans.  Relocation requires changing the architect’s plan, incurring additional cost.  This building has never received the required inspections or gained final construction approval.  The building was placed below the existing sewer line, requiring the installation of a septic tank.  This tank requires pumping when full, as no pump system has been installed.  The septic tank must be regularly pumped by a hired septic service.

3.       Two-way classroom communication systems (telephones, intercoms, etc.) are not available at this school.  Past Grand Jury reports have addressed this as a safety issue.

Findings

1.       The ROP portable building was placed on site before passing the compaction test.

2.       The ROP portable building never received final construction approval.

3.       Installation of the restroom next to the football field has significantly increased costs associated with architects, modification of sewage system, and continuing sewage pumping costs.

4.       The portable restroom building next to football field never received the required inspections or gained final construction approval.

5.       There is no two-way communication system operational at this site.

Recommendations

1.       Work with the architect of record and the State inspector to ensure proper inspections and construction approvals for the ROP portable.

2.       Install future buildings as indicated in the current architect’s specifications.

3.       Work with the architect of record and the State inspector to insure proper inspections and construction approvals for the portable restroom next to the football field.

4.       Install a permanent pumping system at lower field restroom.

5.       Install a two-way communication system in all classrooms.

Independence High School

Background

This is the newest school site in the District.  The location also includes Independent Study, Adult Education and a preschool.  The site administrator is responsible for ROP, Adult Education, Work Experience, Saturday School and Summer School.

Facts

1.       The portable classrooms all have telephones, as does one of the classrooms in the main building.

2.       One classroom has a poor intercom system, but is near enough to the school office that it is not a safety issue.

Recommendations

No recommendations; no response necessary.

Ione Elementary School

Facts

1.       Ione Elementary had an unsecured storage space under the stage in the multi-purpose room at the time of the 1999-2000 Grand Jury Report.  The ACUSD response to the maintenance areas of the 1999-2000 Grand Jury Report was that “All facility improvements must be weighed against the total needs of the District.  Safety issues are addressed first and as emergency situations arise, they are addressed.”  The unsecured storage area still exists, and is a health and safety issue that allows access to the exposed machinery of an elevator that has been installed since the 1999-2000 Report.

2.       The elevator was placed to provide access to the stage for the disabled, but is not safe for that purpose due to incorrect installation.  The school library is located on the stage of the multi-purpose room.

3.       A fire hydrant is located on the playground as noted in the 1999-2000 Grand Jury Report, and an additional hydrant has been placed in the field adjacent to the playground, both of which are obstacles around which students play.

4.       There is no two-way communication system to the thirteen portable classrooms as noted in the 1999-2000 Grand Jury Report.  This year’s site visit showed that condition still true and, except for the two Special Education classrooms and one counselor’s office in a portable building, no classroom has an operable communication system in place.  Establishment of a system has begun.

Findings

1.       The storage space under the stage in the multi-purpose room is not locked or otherwise secured.  This unsafe situation has been exacerbated by the placement of the exposed machinery of the elevator directly in front of it.

2.       The elevator in the multi-purpose room is improperly installed and is a safety hazard.  The exposed machinery is accessible to students, it is not securely fastened to the floor, and there is no gate on the stage side.

3.       Installation of the two-way communication system on this site has not yet been completed.

Recommendations

1.       Secure the storage area under the stage in the multi-purpose room.

2.       Install an elevator to the stage in the multi-purpose room safely and correctly or remove it.

3.       Finish the installation of the two-way communication system.

Ione Junior High School

Facts

1.       The 1999-2000 Grand Jury Report noted that the communication system “is in place but needs to be upgraded.” On the 2000-2001 Grand Jury visit to this site, telephones were available in very few rooms.  No other communication system was available.

2.       The area behind the office and science room had standing water during the 2000-2001 Grand Jury visit due to a clogged drainage system, and staff reported this was a frequent occurrence.  It has been reported this area becomes a “mosquito breeding area.”

3.       In the science room, an extension cord is running across the floor from the back room and is used to power a computer.  This classroom has flooded in the past.  Numerous data communication cables are taped to the ceiling and hang down to the desks.

Findings

1.       There is no two-way communication system operational at this site.

2.       The power and data communication cords running across the floor and dangling from the ceiling are trip, shock and strangulation hazards.

Recommendations

1.       Install a two-way communication system to the classrooms.

2.       Install the electrical and data communication cables in the science room in a manner consistent with safe electrical practices.

Jackson Elementary School

Facts

1.       A two-way communication system was funded by site money and has been installed during the 2000-2001 fiscal year interconnecting all classrooms and the School Office.

2.       An extensive mold repair project at the site has been completed, and the new computer lab and library are housed in that room.  One set of restrooms was also repaired.

3.       There is no sprinkler system at this site.  The custodian waters the lawn areas by hand.

Findings

1.       The custodian must water the lawn areas by hand due to the lack of a sprinkler system, which reduces the time available to clean and maintain the facilities.

Recommendations

2.       Install a sprinkler system at this site.

Jackson Junior High School

Facts

1.       There is no two-way communication system at this site except for the Special Education room.  The walkie-talkies are broken.

2.       There is one working fire hydrant to protect to the entire school site.

Findings

1.       There is no two-way communication system operational at this site.

2.       There are inadequate fire hydrants to meet the specifications of the Uniform Fire Code.

Recommendations

1.       Install a two-way communication system to the classrooms.

2.       Coordinate with the City of Jackson and the City of Jackson Fire Department to establish a plan for upgrading the fire suppression system at this site.

3.       Include in the fire plan a timeline for each phase of the upgrade, a cost analysis, and an analysis of funding availability.

Pine Grove Elementary School

Facts

1.       During the 2000-2001 Grand Jury tour of Pine Grove School, the school was in a state of flux about the executive assignments.  The principal was assigned to be the head of Personnel for the District that day, but he has subsequently been re-assigned to Pine Grove Elementary as principal once again.

2.       Pine Grove Elementary School has only one boys' toilet and six urinals for the general population, with only one other toilet available in the kindergarten classroom.  There are approximately 150 boys attending this school.  This fact was noted in the 1998-1999 Grand Jury Report, and at that time the District agreed with the finding and commented that a portable restroom would be installed on a separate sewage system.  No permanent restroom facilities have been installed 2 1/2 years after that Grand Jury made note of the situation.

3.       The Uniform Plumbing Code Table 4-1 Minimum Plumbing Facilities specifies the number of toilets, urinals, and sinks required for schools.  The code establishes the elementary school toilet to student ratio as 1 per 30 boys and 1 per 25 girls.

Findings

1.       The amount of toilets available for the use of 150 boys is well below the number specified in the Uniform Plumbing Code.

2.       The lack of restroom facilities and the failure of the District to address this condition are unacceptable.  This District inaction demonstrates the isolation of the District administration from the needs of the sites.

Recommendations

1.       Determine the number of toilets and urinals required for students as outlined in applicable plumbing and education codes.

2.       Build adequate permanent toilet facilities for this school.

Pioneer Elementary School

Facts

1.       The hallway in the main building has exposed concrete where floor tile has been removed, and floor tile similar to that which was removed still exists next to the exposed concrete.  The floor tile was removed for asbestos mitigation during a mold abatement project.

2.       The ramps to the portable classrooms show signs of rot.

3.       The 1998-1999 Grand Jury Report stated that a retaining wall should be installed behind Room 16 at the Pioneer Elementary School to prevent erosion.  In the District’s response to that report, the Director of Maintenance agreed in concept, and stated that he was reviewing the project to establish its priority.  There is no retaining wall on the site.

4.       There is no overflow alarm or auto-dialer on the septic system located in the lower playground.  This poses a potential health and safety risk in the event of pump failure.

5.       The main building has been repainted only on sides that face public view.  There is significant deterioration of window frames and other exposed wood surfaces.

6.       The upper playfield fence and backstop are in poor condition.

7.       The upper field has an unusually green area.  The irrigation system was shut off at the time of inspection.

8.       The leach field is located under a portion of the upper playfield.

Findings

1.       Removal of the floor tile during the asbestos and mold abatement projects was incomplete, and no floor tile has been replaced.

2.       Partial removal of floor tiles creates an uneven surface and is a tripping hazard.

3.       The deteriorating condition of the ramps to portable classrooms is unsafe.

4.       There is still no retaining wall behind Room 16 to prevent erosion or deterioration of the buildings.

5.       The lack of an auto-dialer or overflow alarm on the lower playground poses a potential health and safety risk in the event of pump failure.

6.       The areas of the school that have not recently been repainted show signs of significant deterioration.

7.       The upper playfield fence and backstop are in poor repair and constitute a hazard in their present state.

8.       The unusually green area of the playfield indicates the leach field may be damaged.

Recommendations

1.       Remove the remaining floor tiles if they pose an asbestos hazard.

2.       Replace the missing floor tiles, or remove remaining floor tiles, and finish the floor to eliminate the tripping hazard.

3.       Replace ramps that are showing signs of deterioration.

4.       Place a retaining wall behind Room 16 to prevent erosion.

5.       Repair or remove damaged portions of the upper playfield fence and backstop.

6.       Paint the main building to reduce the potential for further deterioration of the exterior.

7.       Check the leach field and repair if necessary.

Plymouth Elementary School

Background

Prior to the 2000-2001 school year, Plymouth Elementary School consisted of two separate sites:  a primary school for kindergarten and first grade, and an elementary school for first grade through sixth grade.

Facts

1.       There are two unused portable classrooms on site.  Staff reports the portables are vacant due to mold contamination.

2.       The three recently acquired portable classrooms have not passed a final building inspection and are currently occupied by students.

3.       The utility company will not connect electrical service to the portable classrooms because site preparation is not according to its specifications.

4.       The District has wired the three new portable classrooms into the existing electrical service in a manner inconsistent with the architect’s plans.

5.       The 1999-2000 Grand Jury found that the communication system at Plymouth Elementary “has been installed which meets regular classroom needs, however, communication system to the portable needs improvement.”  No two-way communication system between classrooms or with the office was available on either regular or portable classrooms during the 2000-2001 site visit.

6.       The Plymouth Primary site has been closed, and the students are now attending classes at the Plymouth Elementary site.

Findings

1.       Retention of unusable portable classrooms at this site is a potential health and safety hazard and prevents the area from being used constructively.

2.       Most of the issues that prevent gaining a final approval on the portable classrooms at this site are minor (for example, handrail must be slightly longer, signs should be lowered).

3.       There is no two-way communication system operational at this site.

4.       No evaluation has been completed as to the use or disposition of the Plymouth Primary School site.

Recommendations

1.       Repair or remove the unusable portable classrooms at this site.

2.       Obtain final approval of the portable classrooms.

3.       Install a two-way communication system to the classrooms.

4.       Evaluate the Plymouth Primary School site.  If no longer useful for school purposes, develop a plan to dispose of the facility.

Sutter Creek Elementary School

Background

Sutter Creek Elementary School consists of two sites.  Sutter Creek Primary School houses kindergarten through third grade, and Sutter Creek Elementary School houses third grade through sixth grade students.  There is one Principal responsible for both sites.

Facts

1.       The 1999-2000 Grand Jury Report indicated that communication to the portable classrooms was needed at the Elementary School site.  Four walkie-talkie radios have been purchased for the Primary School site. 

2.       The pavement near Room 5 is deteriorating due to attempts to rectify a drainage problem.

3.       Primary School portable classrooms are located on the opposite side of the campus from the restroom facilities.  The existing restrooms were designed to accommodate the original facility.

4.       Three additional classrooms and a library have been added to the facility without any additional restroom facilities.

Findings

1.       There is no two-way communication system operational at this site.

2.       The deteriorating pavement near Room 5 is a tripping hazard.  The school evacuation plan requires children from several classrooms to cross this area.

3.       Children attending class in the portable classrooms must walk some distance across the campus to use the restrooms, exposing them to adverse weather.

4.       The crosswalk and limit lines at the intersection of Spanish Street with the Sutter Creek Elementary School and Amador High School Access Road are not adequately marked.  This is partially a City maintenance issue, and is addressed in depth within in the City Government portion of this report.

Recommendations

1.       Install a two-way communication system to all classrooms.

2.       Remove deteriorated pavement, adjust the grade to improve drainage, and repave the trip hazard area near Room 5.

3.       Review existing restroom facilities to determine if they are adequate for the number of students attending Sutter Creek Primary School.  If an additional restroom is determined to be appropriate, locate the new restroom as near as possible to the portable classrooms and library.

4.       Coordinate with the City of Sutter Creek to repaint the crosswalks and limit lines at the Spanish Street intersection.

Response Required

As required in Section 933.05 of the Penal Code the Superintendent of ACUSD/COE or a person acting in that capacity must respond to each finding and recommendation in the manner indicated on page one of this report.