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Bradley Elementary library floods after years of maintenance issues

WATSONVILLE, Calif. (KION) After years of dealing with issues in the building — the library at Bradley Elementary School has reached its breaking point.

Parents say the library was shut down in early 2020, after black mold was found to be growing within the walls. Volunteers packed up all the books and moved them into the multipurpose room.

They were finally able to move the books back into the library in October, and less than a week later — the library flooded during last month's rain storm.

"Without a library, our kids are going to fall even further behind, and with them being out of school with COVID, it's really not a great option," said parent Stacey Anderson.

Parents at Bradley Elementary say almost 90% of the library's books have been lost due to water damage.

"We've been throwing away thousands of books into large pallet-sized recycle bins and it's heartbreaking," said another volunteer mom, Debra Johnson. "Some of the books that we're throwing away are ones I read when I went there. So they've been there for a long time, and it takes a while to establish a good library."

The Pajaro Valley Unified School District has committed to replacing the books — but the parents are calling for more to be done to fix the building. Johnson says work began on the roof 11 months ago, but it was never finished.

"They had all summer. They could have done something. And They knew the rains were coming and we didn't have a roof. We needed that roof. And now we don't have a library," said Johnson.

The district says they have been working to repair the damage to the roof, but the pandemic put a wrench in their plans.

"Our planning department is doing an excellent job of moving as quickly as possible. However, with the pandemic, it's just really delayed everything beyond our control," said PVUSD Chief Business Officer, Clint Rucker.

Rucker says initial inspections found larger problems in the structural beam that holds the roof together.

"The project ended up being a little bit larger than initially intended. We had to have a structural engineer come out and review the plans, but we have since gotten those designs back and are moving forward with replacing the beam as well as the roof," said Rucker.

But these parents say this isn't just a problem with their library, but will all the campuses that they say the district has neglected over the years.

"Unfortunately, it's taken this catastrophic event at our school to bring it to the public eye that not only are we at Bradley hurting, but all of Pajaro is hurting. They really need to make maintenance a number one priority for our kids," said Anderson.

Even if the district replaces the books, right now, the school still won't have anywhere to house them.

Rucker says the district hopes to have the roof repaired by February.

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Lisa Principi

Lisa Principi is a reporter at KION News Channel 5/46.

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