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Independent Voice

Anderson Students Will Be Split Up

Jan 31, 2024 11:37AM ● By Debra Dingman

Anderson Elementary School Principal Rayito Farris stands in front of two generators providing electricity to the school. There is a third near the school cafeteria. “We have to look for the silver lining. Students relocating to Gretchen Higgins and Tremont will get to know other children,” she said. “There has been so many challenges for adults and children.”

DIXON, CA (MPG) - You haven’t seen the toughest job ever unless you’ve gone to a heated school board meeting filled with angry parents. This was a meeting where the superintendent, Brian Dolan, was to present the plan to where students from Anderson Elementary School would be distributed after a construction emergency at their school site.

Three weeks ago, the main electrical panel for the school blew during construction work. The school has been under construction for renovations and improvements since students returned from their summer break. The work was originally scheduled to be completed by then but due to lasting pandemic effects, such as supply chain issues and worker shortages, it hampered any earlier progress.


The Anderson students don’t get full use of their playground due to construction supplies taking the space.

One might say the stress level spilled over the brim from weeks of parents delivering their children to a school ladened with orange cones, hazard signs, and plenty of workers wearing hard hats. They already endured classroom shifts, portable bathrooms, and ever-changing plastic sheeting. They lost the use of the multi-purpose /lunchroom which had morphed into a full-blown construction site complete with gritty floors, equipment, and boxes of supplies.

The idea that their school was getting these improvements paled in the midst of the organized chaos, so when the panel blew and the rest of the parents who didn’t already know discovered there was no fire alarm or working phones, emotions flared.

hoses generators

These hoses coming out from the back of the generators might show how it isn’t easy to relocate generators.

Weeping or teary-eyed parents spoke of their sick children while others who felt more angry pointed fingers and came a sentence short of threatening the superintendent as well as the school board trustees. It wasn’t pretty.

“We do care — enormously,” said Dolan. “Everyone has reviewed the generators and these are allowable and safe to have on campus. Since they’ve been running, we’ve been able to function at the school.” The generators have been inspected by CNP (Construction Noise Permit) Environmental Report, Air Quality Management, the Dixon Fire Department, and Cal/OSHA inspected and agree the generators are safe.

When a parent complained about the fumes of the generators making their child sick, the next parent was saying they didn’t want to relocate their child to a different school. When a parent was okay with relocating their child, another said it would be impossible to get her children picked up from two different locations on time. There were parents who don’t want the school to be a ‘construction site’ but others emphasized the need to re-do all the electrical immediately. It was clearly a lose-lose for the school board.

Trustee John Gabby, joined the conversation and made sense when he reminded the crowd, “We are parents, too, and we are open to solutions.” But there isn’t one fast enough or one that will soothe all the fervent parents.

“We are concerned with everyone—students, parents, and staff. We are in an impossible situation,” said Trustee Jewel Fink.

There was a suggestion to get the new electrical panel ordered ASAP and installed. And another to extend the teacher workdays so the teachers would have time to pack their things.

“You asked what you can do, and it needs to be above and beyond like give us a whole day to pack our classrooms,” said Meghan Kelly, a Kindergarten teacher at Anderson. There was requests for some extra time for parents who are teachers in the morning and after school and concerns about the traffic.

“I’m asking you to consider the start and stop times with drop-off at the door. With drop-off at the door, we’re going to create a huge train wreck for drop-offs,” said Erin Brothers who has a son in 4th grade.

Here’s the plan that was announced at the January 24 meeting: The generators will be moved back to lessen any exhaust. Intercoms are now fixed. Of the 430 Anderson students, eight classes TK through 1st grade and the combination class will start at Tremont, he explained. Gretchin Higgens will receive 11 classes of students: 2nd through 5th grades.

multi-purpose room

Construction supplies fill much of the multi-purpose room.

“This allows for classes to remain intact, and no one needs to change classes,” said Dolan. They will keep their same teacher and lunches, and recesses will be with their same school peers. “This is the best use available of our resources,” he added.

Teachers will be provided moving boxes, and movers will move them on February 16 and 17.