We don’t think about them much. When there’s an anniversary for one of the Big Ones, or when there’s an earthquake somewhere else, we remember the fault lines grinding deep down below. Still, many of us live our lives in earthquake country without too much thought for the seismic shifting under our feet, and with a faith that when ground shakes, our structures will stand.
As the reporting done by demonstrates, we may have placed too much faith in the system when it comes to our schools. After absorbing the material in this report, some members of the Patch community might want to do some investigating on their own about the seismic safety of their local schools. We have some suggestions for places to start.
Start simple: Does your school have an updated, safe school plan on file? According to the state education code, it’s supposed to. Ask to see the safe school plan for your school. When was the last time it’s been updated? Let us know what you learn.
Get involved: If the plan is missing, or needs work, offer to help craft a working plan. Remember. Our public schools have suffered four devastating years of budget cuts. They are trying to do more with less at just about every level. The state’s Crisis Response Box is an excellent guide to what a comprehensive safe school plan ought to include.
Go Gumshoe: This is a big, sprawling story with lots of pieces. It involves documents that may be missing, and documents that might never have existed. It involves buildings that may still be in use and buildings that may have already been abandoned and torn down. Budget cuts have wreaked havoc on institutional knowledge, and key players with critical answers may be long gone. Patch reporters will be tracking down the facts, but if this is the sort of reporting that intrigues you, contact the local editor and find a way to get involved.
There’s a budget crisis in the state, but that doesn’t mean school construction has stopped. If there’s building or retrofitting in your area, use this series as a guide for the way things are supposed to work. Ask questions. Then fill us in on what you find out, and we can share it.
Here are more ideas from California Watch about how to get involved.