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The Elk Grove Unified School District board got news Tuesday night that was so good, board members talked about getting shovels ready to break ground for the new Cosumnes River Elementary School.

Robert Pierce

School district official Robert Pierce outlined a series of successes in work on a new Cosumnes River Elementary.

Robert Pierce, associate superintendent for facilities and planning, outlined the last six months of progress on the school in a 25-minute report to the board. His report included the following:

  • Tests have found "ample" flow of water that "tested very clean." The water was pumped at a rate of 85 gallons a minute for 60 hours straight to test the aquifer -- more than would be needed by a school -- and no problems were encountered.
  • The land's geology is very complex, and septic tests brought back a range of results. The site won't handle a major septic system, so a treatment system would have to be installed on site, but it would be "green technology," using less water. The treatment facility would be less complex than the one planned for the previous site, on Stonehouse Road.
  • The proposal to realign Kiefer Boulevard has been given conceptual approval by the county. The realignment has won tentative acceptance from Caltrans, as has the plan to install a traffic signal.
  • There would be a left-turn lane for westbound traffic and a right-turn lane for eastbound traffic.
  • After a site visit, the state Department of Education blessed the location in March.
  • The school would have 30 classrooms at the outset and is planned for as many as 40. It would include a kindergarten complex, day-care facility, multipurpose room and library. About 170 parking spaces are planned -- more than is typical -- to take parking off Jackson Road.
  • The structures, including a two-story building, would sit 13 to 15 feet above Jackson Road. The buildings only 13 feet above the road would be set back more than 500 feet from the street, while the ones 15 feet above grade would be more than 230 feet from the street. The building designs, repurposed from another school site, have won state architectural approval.
  • The project is going through California Environmental Quality Act review, which is expected to be complete by the fall. Pierce said 30 agencies or organizations are involved in reviewing plans for the facility.
  • The Department of Toxic Substances Control studied the site and found no toxic issues, geologic hazards or other problems.
  • The family that has agreed to an option to sell the land, the Moshers, have been gracious and are "very optimistic about moving the project forward" -- hoping for a sale by the end of the year. The Moshers sold the district land for the present school in the 1940s.

"I am truly pleased at the progress that has been made ... and I can't wait to get started," said Board President Brian D. Myers. Other board members congratulated Pierce and spoke of looking forward to wielding shovels at a groundbreaking.

Plans call for construction to begin at the end of the 2008-09 school year. Preliminary grading plans are being prepared now for the site, which is very hilly.

Brian D. Myers

Terracing the hilly site is a good approach, Board President Brian D. Myers said.

Myers praised the "terracing" approach to the school as a practical answer to the challenges of the site's topography and the area's safety and noise concerns.

Myers asked when the decision will be made about how to look after the school's children during construction -- will the school continue to operate there while construction is going on, or will the pupils and staff be moved to another site? Pierce said recommendations for that answer will come from school officials and parents, who are studying the situation now.

Myers suggested Pierce return with another report when there's news, perhaps in another 90 days.

In January, the school board unanimously approved a $900,000 purchase option for 15 acres surrounding the school. The plan would expand the campus from 4.5 acres to almost 20.

District officials have said the "paper planning" for the school would take at least a year and the facility might open in 2010 or 2011.


Brenda Carmichael's picture
Joined: 07/30/2007
Posts: 82
Post rating: 58

Great news

This is a very encouraging report. I'm excited about the prospects of a new school in the not-so-distant future. Thanks for keeping on top of this developing story, rm.com!

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