It Wasnt Always That Way.

On Thursday, the school board approved bids to repair heating and ventilation systems, fix roofs, modernize bathrooms and install portable classrooms. But many more repairs are waiting down the line. At Fischer Middle School in the Alum Rock Union School District, weeds rooted in debris grow on the library roof. (Sharon Noguchi) When are they going to fix the bathrooms? an emotional mother, Juanita Ramos, asked the school board Thursday. Her boys, who attend Cesar Chavez Elementary, take water bottles to school to avoid drinking from dirty fountains. In addressing its crumbling facilities, Alum Rock has not compiled a needs assessment something that many school districts perform no data when seeking public support for a bond measure. Despite that, Alum Rock voters have historically been generous, overwhelmingly approvingmultiple bonds for facilities and technology along with parcel taxes for operations. Without a recent list and rating of needs the last survey was in 2010 its not clear how the district prioritizes its projects.The district also suffers from thin maintenance staffing just 11 full-time employees, including a director and supervisor, care for 24 schools that serve 11,000students and the district office. It wasnt always that way. When Tom Liggett joined the department in 1984, he said there were 42 maintenance workers plus part-timers and substitutes.

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