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San Diego Unified School District staffers are no longer looking into the idea of seeking an exemption for the schoobrary to state laws governing school construction.

Spokesman Bernie Rhinerson told me today that the school district’s attorney investigated the idea and determined that “the likelihood of getting an exemption is not something we see happening.”

For the past few months, the city and school district have been exploring the idea of placing a high school on two floors of the planned downtown library, an idea we’ve taken to calling a schoobrary. But to include the school would require a costly feasibility study, which most school board members balked at paying for.

In February, San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders notified the state that the district was looking at seeking an exemption to the Field Act, which sets stringent requirements for public schools in order to keep students safe in earthquakes.

But that rule only applies to buildings in which the use as a school is “incidental,” something state officials said didn’t seem to fit what the city and school district were looking to do.

Rhinerson said school district officials also “haven’t pursued” the idea of getting legislators to pass a law exempting the schoobrary from the rules, something that was mentioned in Sanders’ letter to the state.

Other options could surface. For one thing, charter schools don’t have to follow the same rules governing construction of most public schools. Rhinerson said district staffers are aware of that but haven’t been actively investigating the idea of putting a charter school in the library.

“We’ve been all focused on the budget and doing other things,” Rhinerson said. “Down the road when it comes back up before the board, it’s something they may or may not want to talk about.”

Currently, the school board has no discussions scheduled on the schoobrary, Rhinerson said.

RANI GUPTA

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