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District Mulls Options For Pasadena School Sitting On Multiple Fault Lines

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(courtesy Pasadena Unified)

(courtesy Pasadena Unified)

Brian-Ping Brian Ping
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PASADENA (CBS) — School district officials on Thursday denied any safety threats to students at a near-century-old elementary school that rests directly on multiple fault lines in Pasadena.

KNX 1070’s Brian Ping reports now the future of San Rafael Elementary School may be on very shaky ground.

A soil survey conducted in March discovered four seismic faults running directly underneath the campus at 1090 Nithsdale Road, prompting U.S. Geological Survey spokeswoman Dr. Lucy Jones to call for the school to be torn down.

“If you’re right on the fault, you rip the building apart, and there’s no way to build a building safely in that situation,” said Jones.

The Pasadena Unified School District had hoped to renovate San Rafael — which was built in 1918 — but those plans were shelved under a state law that prohibits renovations at any schools within 50 feet of earthquake faults that have shown signs of activity within the last 10,000 years.

Jones will join Superintendent Jon Gundry and district Chief of Facilities David Azcarraga at a community meeting at the McKinley School Auditorium on Thursday night at 6:30 p.m. to address the findings.

Some of the potential options being considered include relocating San Rafael student to other campuses at a cost of $150,000 and ultimate savings of $5.15 million in bond money, or to spend over $4 million in renovations to reopen the former Allendale Elementary School campus, which would eventually save a projected $1.1 million.

Despite the dire warnings for Dr. Jones and others, district spokesman Adam Wolfson defended the school’s structrual integrity.

“San Rafael Elementary is Field Act compliant, which is the most strict building standards you’re going to find in this state,” he said.

In a letter to San Rafael parents and staff Gundry said, “I realize that this will be a difficult time for students, staff and families and urge you to continue to maintain a calm learning environment on campus and at home so that children are not unduly alarmed.”

Those sentiments were echoed Thursday by Wolfson, who said that while there are currently plans under review to close the school as early as after next school year, “there is no need to rush things”.

“The campus…is safe,” he added.

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