Prompted by a parent complaint, building and fire inspectors examined the former Mountain View Middle School and deemed it safe for student use.
Mindy Stewart, a parent with three children at East Farms STEAM Magnet School, filed the complaint with the Spokane County Department of Building and Planning after she drove by Mountain View Middle School earlier this week. Parts of the building, which closed in 2011, are being used this year for music and fitness classes.
“I drove up with the assumption there have been major fixes,” she said. “I was astounded by what I saw.”
While graffiti has been painted over, the windows of the building have been boarded up. “It looks like a death trap.”
She said her concerns weren’t just that the building was ugly. She was concerned for the safety of her children.
“Part is just that gut-level reaction as a mom,” she said.
Building Official Randy Vissia said a building inspector visited Mountain View on Wednesday.
“It is fully operational and safe,” Vissia said.
Assistant Fire Marshall Bill Clifford of the Spokane Valley Fire Department said the school was inspected Wednesday for fire safety concerns, and it passed inspection.
Clifford said the exit doors work, the emergency lighting is in proper working order, the exit signs work and the fire extinguishers have been inspected for the year. He said he has heard from the companies that inspect the alarms and sprinkler system, and those have passed inspection.
The one item the inspection noted was that vandals had torn down some of the numbers from the address on the building, and the district will have to replace them within 30 days.
“The main thing is they have to be visible from the street,” Clifford said.
Vissia said there are no plans to re-inspect the building unless they become aware of issues.
Superintendent John Glenewinkel said the boards will stay up on the windows, some of which were broken by vandals. The music rooms and the gyms don’t have windows.
East Farms Principal Tammy Fuller said students have access to the gyms and music rooms. Seventh- and eighth-graders can use the locker rooms and gyms for health and fitness classes, and students in band, orchestra and choir use the music rooms.
The section in use was renovated in 1996, the last time a construction bond was passed by voters in the East Valley School District.
Fuller said they are calling Mountain View “Campus 2,” at East Farms. She said their protocol for visitors is to stop at East Farms to check in so the office can notify teachers at the other campus.
Expanding to another building is part of the districtwide plan to move to K-8 teaching models at East Valley’s neighborhood schools, a plan that has met with controversy in the community since the school board unveiled it in 2010.
Stewart said she’s doesn’t think it matters what model the district chooses, her concerns lie elsewhere.
“They are trying to do something there’s no proper infrastructure for,” she said. She added that she’s not opposed to using the building but wants to make sure it’s safe for her children and that plans for district buildings are communicated properly to parents, staff and outside agencies such as the fire department.
“At some point the chaos is too much, and you just move your kids,” Steward said.