MERIDIAN – Today was the first day of school for thousands of kids, and at one school in Meridian parents and students showed up to what the district admits is an active construction zone.
The reason Willow Creek Elementary School is not done is because of funding and time. Regardless of the reason, construction fences, hard hats and heavy equipment were not what some parents expected when they dropped off their kids Tuesday morning.
"I think it's ridiculous that they would ask children to go to school in this environment," said Lacey, the parent of a second grade student that didn’t want us to use her last name.
When Lacey dropped her son off at school Tuesday morning she wasn't happy.
"My son felt scared and wasn't very happy about having to stay here without me," said Lacey.
Willow Creek Elementary School is in the beginning phases of a project that will see this school go up one piece at a time. That's because the district is using money from a plant facilities levy that has a cap to it, meaning the district doesn't have enough money to finish the school all at once.
So, construction crews will be at the school the entire year in hopes of having it done in time for the next school year.
Lacey worries that school activities and construction activities will mix.
"They're little kids, that's what they do,” she said. “They find little holes and crevices and sneak into there. It's fun. There are piles of dirt and big tractors. They want to be over there.”
Knowing that could be a possibility the school hired a security guard to work alongside teachers to make sure the kids are safe.
"Are students safe here?” asked KTVB.
“Yes, students are safe here,” said Meridian School District spokesman Eric Exline. “I'm not concerned about their safety. I understand the appearance is odd. I understand that it's unusual to have a construction site, but I believe kids are safe here and I think they're going to have a great year.”
Inside the school, we could not hear the construction outside that will only increase in the coming months.
"Class is going on today like you find in schools everywhere. It's quiet. They're at work, they're doing what they need to," said Exline.
But for Lacey, that's not enough.
"If he's not comfortable and he doesn't feel safe, then I don't feel like he should have to be here. So if I have to pay for him to go to another school I will. I don't want to, but I will," said Lacey.
The main building is done so there is no construction inside the school. Also, the district has construction zones that workers are not allowed to leave.
What still needs to be done
Crews are working on two buildings that the district hopes to have done by next year. When that happens the school will open up from kindergarten to second grade, and go to the fifth grade.
Knowing the situation was different, the district hosted two community meetings earlier this year to tell parents about what was happening.
The parent we spoke to was not able to attend that meeting.