MOUNTAIN VIEW (KPIX 5) – It was the very first day ever for Jose Antonio Vargas Elementary School in Mountain View.
“Today’s our first day, so everybody’s excited to be here,” said Ayinde Rudolph, Superintendent of the Whisman School District.
There was just one big problem. The school has no permanent electrical hookup. The constant hum of a large generator could be heard as students went through the day.
“It’s unfortunate, I wish the power was up on their first day of school,” said Christina Song, who has children attending the school.
The students all sat in their places and there was good light to study by in the ground floor classrooms.
But the entire second story of one large classroom building was dark.
The stairs were blocked off and the elevator wasn’t working, all because the school has no permanent power supply.
”By code, we have to make sure that we have constant power to run the elevator.”
The generator doesn’t suffice as a constant power stream,” Mr. Rudolph said.
Fortunately, the school does have extra classrooms this year, so everyone was moved to the first floor.
The problem began months ago when PG&E dug a trench across North Whisman Road to hook the school up to underground power lines.
But the trench cut into private property owned by the California Station Homeowners Association.
The HOA and PG&E have not been able to agree on an easement to allow the final hookup. The HOA Board sent KPIX a statement which says “PG&E wanted unlimited access to our property to build anything they want now and in the future, with no accountability to the HOA.”
PG&E said in a statement the utility cannot compromise due to safety concerns, so it is now “redesigning its electrical layout to use an alternate location without access restrictions. “
It’s all disappointing to parents and staff who are otherwise excited about the brand new school.
In the meantime, the school district will keep running the generator…a costly alternative at $35,000 per month.
”Oh I had no idea about that. That’s a lot of money,” Ms. Song said.
The school has agreed not to run its generator past 6 p.m., so teachers and custodians must finish their work early. It is also cutting into the times when the school would be holding meetings with parents.