The Tracy City Council voted Tuesday to allow the West Side Pioneer Association to use a room at the Tracy Transit Station, 50 E. Sixth St., free of charge to continue its “A School Day in 1876” program until the schoolhouse is repaired.
The consent-calendar vote changed the city’s original 2008 agreement with the association that gave the program access to the historical schoolhouse in Clyde Bland Park.
The West Side Pioneer Association president, Larry Gamino, said the program gives about 1,200 students from Tracy Unified and Jefferson Elementary school districts the opportunity to spend time in a replica 1870s-era classroom. The old Lammersville School is furnished with vintage desks, writing slates with chalk, and period costumes for students to wear during their visit.
The city and the association looked at a few temporary sites before settling on the transit station, which Gamino said also offers students a larger history lesson.
“The teachers are pleased. It gives them a broader experience to show where Tracy began,” Gamino said. “It’s a good experience — they get the railroad and the downtown of the past. These third-grade classes will be the only ones to experience it.”
He said walking tours of the businesses along Sixth Street would show students the railroad and early landmarks, such as one of the first Tracy firehouses.
The use of the room at the transit station does have some drawbacks, Gamino said. Because of limited space, the only props the West Side Pioneer Association will take from the schoolhouse are the small chalk slates for the students to write on and the California and American flags. The desks and other props will remain at the Lammersville School until it is repaired.
Gamino hopes that the program for the third-grade students will be able to move back to the schoolhouse for the start of next year’s visits. “We originally had one year, but it was changed to when it is safe and operable,” he said.
Once the repairs are done, city officials have promised to tackle the larger issue of solving vandalism at the schoolhouse.
“They are going to do a more comprehensive job for the schoolhouse,” Gamino said. “They discussed cameras, better lighting and a fence to keep vandalism down.”
Gamino had not received an estimate this week of when the repairs would be completed. The association has permission to use Room 105 at the transit station from 8 a.m. to noon Tuesday through Friday until the schoolhouse is repaired.
Capt. Mark Duxbury said Tracy Police Department’s arson investigation is still open and ongoing.
• Contact Glenn Moore at 830-4252 or firstname.lastname@example.org.