Wilson Elementary relocating to Portola Middle temp campus in fall

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On rainy days at the aging Wilson Elementary School campus at 629 42nd St. in Richmond, the 5th grade teacher stops lesson plans in order to place a bucket under a leak in the ceiling.

That’s why the West Contra Costa Unified School District’s Board of Education voted last week to relocate the school this summer to the former Portola Middle School temporary campus, located at Navellier Street at Moeser Lane in El Cerrito.

Students are expected to remain at the temporary campus site until at least fiscal year 2021, when the district hopes to have a new campus fully rebuilt at the Wilson Elementary site. Under the plan, the district will provide transportation for students to the temporary campus.

A lot needs to happen to ensure the Wilson Elementary campus replacement — expected to cost $40.3 million — happens on schedule.

The district hopes the Board of Education will approve education specifications for the Wilson Elementary replacement by next month, and architectural services in May. The hope is to have bonds issued to pay for the project in 2018, said Lisa LeBlanc, the district’s associate superintendent for facilities.

In an editorial in the Richmond Pulse, Trustee Mister Phillips wrote in support of the relocation, saying it has taken 15 years for Wilson Elementary School to become a priority for rebuilding.

During a recent visit, Phillips said he was impressed by Wilson’s staff, students and community, but said the campus is inadequate.

“According to a 2002 structural evaluation of Wilson by DASSE Design, Inc., Wilson has 18 structural deficiencies that ‘could be the causes for building collapses, partial building collapses, or life-safety hazards, if the corresponding buildings are subjected to major earthquake ground motions, which are possible at these sites,’” Wilson said.

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