By Jennifer Grimes
Triplicate staff writer
Frustrated by a lack of solid information on a promised gymnasium, Gasquet residents are meeting tonight with school district officials to get answers.
At the center of discussions is what will be built and how much will be spent on a long awaited gym/community center, according to Vicky Dodge, chairperson of the Gasquet Community Council.
The problem is that even as recently as January, weve been shown a plan and a budget for $1.7 million, Dodge said, adding that since then, theyve heard two other figures of $1.1 million and $750,000.
Mountain Schools idyllic setting, nestled between the emerald Smith River and the pine-covered mountains, is no consolation to its students during the long rainy seasons. They lack a sheltered play area.
But, theres no problem and no unfulfilled promise, according to Walt Hanline, Del Norte County Unified School Districts superintendent.
Its misinformation from someplace. The gym is definitely going in. It will have two bathrooms, it will have a kitchen and a storage room, Hanline said.
The amount allocated for the project is $1.1 million, he said. That number was once $1.5 million, he added, when the plan included building county services offices. The cost of those offices were to be offset by rent payments made by the county.
That deal is off for now, Hanline said, because the county decided against participating, but the original plan for the gym and kitchen are the same, he said.
Still, Dodge said, up to this point, there has been an implacable lack of communication from the district administration, which is what led to the communitys frustrations.
Dodge added that even Mountain Schools principal, Jeff Napier, has not provided a satisfactory link between what the Gasquet community wants to know and the district offices.
Hanline said he has received many letters of concern from Mountain School parents about whether or not a gym and kitchen will be built.
This is more than just misinformation, this is weird. Ive received letters saying Im not committed to this, but Ive invested a million dollars that says I am, Hanline said.
A community forum about the schools promised facility is planned for tonight at 7 p.m. in the Gasquets American Legion Hall. A free spaghetti dinner is set for 5:30 p.m. People who want to partake must bring their own plates and utensils.
Dodge organized the event so Hanline could set the record straight and to give community members a chance to ask questions and assert their desires.
Weve always been the ugly stepchild of the district. Every year an 8th-grader leaves this school who was promised a gym back when they were in kindergarten.
They keep getting the message that they dont count, Dodge said.
Hanline is anxious to get the right information to the right people, he said, and to clear the air of the parents frustration.
Dodge said shes not sure how many people will attend the meeting tonight.
Theres sort of a pervasive cynicism about what Hanline says, but were going to ask some hard hitting questions, she added.