Scrap that site, say parents

A couple of parents showed up at the June 20 meeting of the Chico Unified School District Board of Trustees to urge the district to give up on building a high school on meadowfoam-dotted land in south Chico.

Speaking during the public-comment portion of the meeting, Rick Ford and Jim Brobeck each said the selected site near Bruce Road and the Skyway has proven too difficult to purchase and develop due to environmental constraints, and the CUSD should move on for the sake of the students.

“I’m totally opposed to the site,” Brobeck said. Not only would building there destroy species and hurt the groundwater, he said, it would also send a bad message to students—"opposite of the civic lessons I hope my son learns.”

He said the board should release its “stubborn focus” on the site.

Ford said he’s talked to a lot of the parties involved and his research has only confirmed that “the abandonment of the preferred school site should occur immediately and we should move on to other sites.”

He also urged the board to “improve communication” about how the permitting process is going. It’s been, he said, “a very, very closed, behind-doors process.”

School board President Scott Schofield disagreed, saying, “I think we’ve been pretty open and straight-forward with the process.”

Even so, the board later directed CUSD staff to give formal updates at alternate board meetings in the future.

Ford is among those who prefer a 40-acre site at the northwest corner of the same intersection. Others are hopeful Enloe Health Systems might sell some of its land in south Chico for the project.

At the meeting, CUSD Facilities Planner Mike Weissenborn updated the board on several construction projects, including what is being called Canyon View High School.

Last month, the owners of the property chosen for the high school were informed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers that it should separate its planned residential development from the school application. “It was a strong recommendation … made in the interest of the school district’s behalf to keep the project moving ahead,” Weissenborn said.

Weissenborn also mentioned that renovation projects at Chico High School are moving along, as is the gym for Marsh Junior High School and the nearby traffic light. The post-fire building at Shasta Elementary School is going well, and the district is even exploring whether it can afford to improve the music room at Pleasant Valley High School.

His department, Weissenborn said, has shifted into "hyperdrive."