The story of Brandon School‘s quest for a new multipurpose room for school plays and other events is a testament to the benefits of perseverance.
This week, after nearly three and a half years of coming to a grand total of 18 Goleta school board meetings, Brandon advocates got their wish when the board Wednesday night finally gave it the unanimous nod.
Teachers, parents and students at the school, located at 195 Brandon Drive in western Goleta, have long lamented how school productions must occur in shifts because the capacity of the current room is only 180, while the school enrolls 425 students.
“You get a couple of classes of first-graders in there to do their little plays and you can barely fit the parents in there, not to mention the siblings, the grandparents or anyone else, which is a real bummer,” said Goleta Union School District trustee Valerie Kushnerov, who started attending meetings three years ago as a Brandon parent to press the board for the new building. She joined the board herself in December 2006.
“It’s fun to let people know that there’s light at the end of the tunnel,” she said.
The process took a long time for several reasons.
Initially, the board balked at the estimated cost of $2.5 million, and decided to look into the idea of moving all of Brandon’s students into a school that recently closed due to declining enrollment. That school, El Rancho, had a nicely appointed multipurpose room.
The board later found that idea unfeasible and decided instead to look into the idea of placing the multipurpose room in a cheaper modular building.
After deciding that that idea was unappealing, the board finally decided to look into creating a full-fledged permanent structure. Plans were drawn and submitted to the Division of State Architects. But the department discovered that the site was susceptible to some “geological abnormalities,” so the plans had to be revised, and the proposed facility had to be relocated.
Eventually, the project went out to bid. At this point, Goleta school officials received a welcome surprise. Due most likely to how the sluggish economy has stymied commercial construction, the project attracted a relatively large number of bidders — seven. This drove down the price to an estimated $1.9 million from $2.5 million.
“Everyone’s talking about how bad the economy is, but in this instance it’s really working in our favor,” Kushnerov said.
Crews plan to break ground in June, and the project should be finished in a little more than a year. That means one more year of watching school plays in cramped quarters, but the knowledge that relief is on the way might render the limited seating a little more bearable.