Plans to build a new elementary school in Morgan Hill are on hold after toxins were discovered in the soil.
The much-needed new campus is set to be built on farmland on Peet Road, off Cochrane Avenue. The Morgan Hill Unified School District is waiting to hear from a state agency on how to clean up the farmland where the school would be built.
Recent tests found the farmland's soil contained high levels of a toxic insecticide that was banned in the United States in 1987.
"It revealed lots of toxins and lot of pesticides, but the most concerning is dieldrin because it is linked to Parkinson's disease and cancer. That's the one we are most concerned about."
Developer Dividend Homes and the Borello family donated nearly 10 acres of farmland to the school district more than a decade ago. The district hoped to build a new 600-student elementary school on the land.
"I think they have to clean it up, whether the school builds on it or not," said Todd Jennings, who lives a few yards from the site.
The California Department of Toxic Substance Control is now determining if the toxins can safely be removed. The district said the clean up could cost $3 to $5 million.
If the farmland cannot be cleaned, the donated property would be returned and the district would need to find another site.
The new school was scheduled to open by 2019.
A school district spokesperson said a new school is critical because all the current schools are overcrowded.