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Outside of Garrison Elementary School in Oceanside. Photo via Google
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Garrison Elementary needs new storm drain to stop sinkholes

OCEANSIDE — As sinkholes continue to plague Garrison Elementary, district leaders are looking into the cost and timeline to fix the issue.

Back in July, the Oceanside Unified School District Board decided to move students and staff at Garrison Elementary School in Oceanside to San Luis Rey Elementary because of sinkholes that began to appear on campus. Specialized preschool classes were moved to Del Rio and Libby Elementary schools.

“It was not safe for scholars,” said Shannon Soto, associate superintendent of business services.

Soto said none of the district’s employees lost their jobs in the process.

The district authorized Ninyo & Moore, a geotechnical engineering firm, to proceed with cutting larger holes around the sinkholes to determine what was causing them.

According to geotechnical engineer Jeff Hunt, the sinkholes are being caused by deterioration of an old storm drain system. The pipes are corroding and joints are being displaced, Hunt explained, causing the storm drain to shift.

Hunt recommended to board at its Sept. 10 meeting to entirely remove and replace the storm drain system.

Mitch Maynard, maintenance director for the district, said the next step would be to issue a request for proposal. This would start the bidding process to find someone who can complete the work.

The district is required by law to collect bids from contractors to repair sinkhole damage, but the process will take several months.

“This process must follow legally defined governmental public works requirements, which includes a 60-day window of time that must be open to advertise for bid submission,” said Matthew Jennings, the district’s communications director, via email. “

Staff plans to present the results of this process, including scope of repairs and estimated costs, to the board by the Jan. 21, 2020, board meeting.

“At that point we can make a more informed decision on how to proceed,” Maynard told the board.

Some of the board members mulled over the idea of possibly not returning students and staff back to the Garrison site, either merging them with other existing schools or possibly finding a place for a new school site.

The board did not make a final decision on how to proceed with Garrison at the Sept. 10 meeting.

The district is continuing to update families regarding the status of Garrison on the elementary school’s website.