Former school administrator suggests district keep lease with Cerro Coso | News

On January 11, retired school administrator Paul Kaminski spoke out in favor of the district’s continuation of Cerro Coso Community College as a tenant of the district’s Snyder Avenue campus, which once served as the campus for the Monroe High School, Jacobsen Middle School, and Tehachapi High School.

His comments came during a Tehachapi Unified School District board meeting conducted via Zoom.

At the Dec. 19 board meeting, Superintendent Stacey Larson-Everson noted that the college’s current lease will expire on June 30 and suggested the district consider not renewing so the space can be used to serve students. students from kindergarten to 12th grade.

The Snyder Avenue campus — sometimes called the Tehachapi Education Center — could be used to accommodate the expansion of the Tehachapi Independent Learning Academy and the Tehachapi Adult School, it said. she says, perhaps offering “blended programs” for TILA that would allow students to meet teachers in person in addition to doing their work online.

The trustees asked the superintendent to present a proposal to the board at its February 8 meeting.

In response to this news, Cerro Coso officials said they hope something can be resolved with TUSD.

The Ridgecrest-based college, which is part of the Kern Community College district, rents about 13,000 square feet of space and currently pays the district $3,865 per month.

Spokeswoman Natalie Dorrell said using the space has allowed the college to increase programs and services to area residents over the past six years. She said college officials had met with the city and developers to explore permanent options, but needed more time to find an alternative.

Kaminski statement

Kaminski’s tenure with TUSD began in 1995. He retired at the end of the 2020 school year, having served as a teacher, vice principal, principal, academic coach, and acting superintendent. Over the years he has worked at Golden Hills, Cummings Valley and Jacobsen schools. After former superintendent Susan Andreas-Bervel resigned in 2018, Kaminski served the district as acting superintendent until Larson-Everson took the reins in July 2019.

His prepared comments for the board meeting went over time, but he said in an email that board chair Nancy Weinstein later requested a copy of his full statement.

In addition to outlining why he thinks Cerro Coso’s presence in the community is good for TUSD students, he questioned the possibility of terminating the lease while another space is available for the expansion of TILA and adult school.

Among the facilities he says could be available to expand TILA and the adult school are a dozen empty portable classrooms in the former Jacobsen Campus Sixth Grade Center and the Old Classroom agricultural on this campus which was recently used to house the former Abernathy Charter School. He also noted other options on the college campus.

“Cerro Coso has been a good tenant and has invested money in the facility,” Kaminski said in the statement. He noted that the college has installed permanent signage, upgraded IT and a new security system with cameras, and made many other improvements.

Jacobsen Campus

Current JMS Director Eric Loe also spoke about the unused space on this campus during a presentation at the January 11 meeting.

His presentation focused on the school in general, but touched on unused space.

The JMS campus on Anita Drive backs onto the Snyder Avenue campus as well as the former school district office currently used by TILA. The campus opened as Tehachapi High School in September 1965. It was converted to a middle school after the current high school opened on Dennison Road in 2003. For a time, sixth-grade students were in buildings modular, but a new wing was completed in late 2019.

The district spent about $5.8 million to build the 13,175 square foot addition with 10 classrooms that can accommodate about 300 students.

In her presentation, Loe described some unused space on campus, including the high school’s original home economics and shop classrooms.

School needs

The school district has seven campuses – THS, JMS, the partially leased Snyder Avenue campus at Cerro Coso, Tompkins Elementary, Golden Hills Elementary, Cummings Valley Elementary, and the former Wells Elementary School on Robinson Street which is now Wells Education Center and houses the district office.

In addition to unused space on the Jacobsen campus referenced by Kaminski and Loe, the neighborhood has unused space on the Snyder Street campus (in addition to leased space at Cerro Coso) and the Wells campus.

But the functionality of this space is another question.

In December 2020, the district released a development fee justification study that is needed to set the amount of fees new housing developers can charge to help pay for schools needed for the additional population driven by said development.

According to this study, a district-commissioned facilities master plan approved by the school board in 2014 identified nearly $102 million in priority project facility needs needed to maintain current service levels to students as well as to meet the needs of 21st century learning. environment. According to the study, increasing the 2014 estimate to 2021 dollars would require a financial investment of approximately $139 million.

According to the fee study, the district has permanent capacity at the secondary level, but projected growth has shown a shortage of permanent capacity at the primary and middle levels.

In the fee study, it was noted that it would take a significant additional investment to be able to use 10 permanent (currently unused) classrooms at the Wells site.

Although there have been many discussions with the board over the years, sources of funding or a plan to rehabilitate unused classrooms have not been confirmed.

Claudia Elliott is a freelance journalist and former editor of Tehachapi News. She lives in Tehachapi and can be contacted by email: [email protected]

Martha K. Merrill