Tree damages elementary school portable classrooms

March 23, 2009

By Chantelle Lusebrink

Cascade Ridge Elementary School students won’t be returning to their portable classroom soon, but they are still learning.

A tree from a nearby Trossachs development that is under construction fell on one of four portable classrooms at the school March 7.

The sizable tree hit just one of the portable buildings, but each houses two classrooms, said Principal Colleen Shields. 

The tree was removed and $7,000 worth of temporary repairs were made that weekend. 

Officials are still investigating whether damage was severe enough to warrant full replacement or whether the building can be repaired, said Keith Simmonds, district director of custodial and maintenance services. After a report is finished, district officials can determine the next step. 

Full replacement costs about $95,000 and repairs could cost up to that, according to Steve Crawford, district director of capital projects. School officials should have the information soon, he said.

As a precaution, school officials moved students from all of the portable classrooms into the main building until engineers and arborists with the city of Sammamish can determine whether the stand of trees is safe, Shields said.

Sammamish city officials were expected to make a determination about the stand of trees March 23, Crawford said, after The Press’ deadline.

Students are being taught on the school’s stage, in the library and in the computer lab. School officials are prepared to give the Washington Assessment of Student Learning exams to students even if students aren’t able to return to the portable classrooms, Shields said. 

“If we’re still inside the building when it’s time for WASL, we will adjust the schedule in areas where there are more disruptions, to make sure there are no interruptions,” she said. “We’ll be able to maintain a high-level, quality learning environment.”

With teachers, students and school employees’ support, learning has been the easiest thing to keep on track, she said. Organizing and rearranging school functions or rescheduling building time for community groups has been the most difficult. 

If there is a lesson for her students, Shields said she hopes they learn resiliency. 

“I think this has been a great learning lesson for students to see staff pull together to problem solve, see the positive and make it work the best they can,” she said. “Kids see that they can be successful when they have challenges that they have to face.”

Reach reporter Chantelle Lusebrink at 392-6434, ext. 241, or Comment on this article at 392-6434, ext. 241, or 

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