LCUSD Ready for Phase I of Facilities Improvements

At a special meeting last Friday, the La Cañada Unified School District Governing Board discussed Measure LCF projects and oversight as district administrators gear up to begin implementing the Facilities Master Plan.
Discussion touched mostly on cash flow and priority-setting for nearly $30 million that will initially become available from the $149 million bond passed by voters last year.
That first $29.6 million bond offering became available this May and, with that, project planning began — though board members and district administrators stressed Friday that no firm decisions have been made: “We will aggressively seek input” from stakeholders, said Jamie Lewsadder, the district’s chief technology officer.
Much of the conversation Friday — the day 10 people were killed and another 13 injured in the latest school shooting in Santa Fe, Texas — centered on school safety, including adding perimeter fencing.
Projects related to security, safety and student well-being are expected to take into account a forthcoming security audit as well as feedback from the task force that will focus on those topics, school board member Joe Radabaugh said.
The biggest piece of the initial project plans is expected to be the construction of new classrooms at the elementary schools. Old buildings will have to be demolished to make way for modern two-story classroom structures.
The district will tackle those projects in an order determined by age of the school, the board agreed: Palm Crest Elementary (built in 1956), followed by Paradise Canyon Elementary (1959) and La Cañada Elementary (1968).
At PCR, preliminary Phase 1 estimates call for $18.5 million to be dedicated to new construction, $684,645 to be spent on safety and security measures and $93,850 to be allocated for perimeter fencing, among other projects.
The first phase won’t include sewer connection, however, because consultants have determined there won’t be time to complete all the work (including a topographic survey) for that to occur.
At PCY, early budgeting calls for $19.4 million for new construction and $586,730 for safety and security, as well as $213,700 for perimeter fencing. PCY will need the most interim housing, between five and 11 new portables, said Harold Pierre, the program manager from Irvine-based LPA Architects.
LCE’s plans include $16.9 million for new construction and $937,720 for safety and security with $144,200 for perimeter fencing.
Radabaugh warned that outside groups accustomed to using fields at the elementary schools could take issue with construction plans that temporarily limit that usage.
Although district officials indicated that they will keep those activities in mind, board member Ellen Multari suggested the board be clear about its priorities.
“With all due respect to user groups,” she said, “our first responsibility is to what benefits our students.”
There isn’t any new building construction planned in Phase 1 at LCHS, where the most substantial initial projects are expected to include a new pool and hard courts (budgeted at $6.6 million), stadium bleacher improvements ($2 million) and safety and security ($1.1 million). Another $967,500 could go to improved lockdown and access control.
Earlier this month, Moody’s assigned an Aa1 rating to the bonds, reflecting “the district’s sizeable and growing tax base, strong socio-economic profile and healthy financial positions,” the ratings agency stated.
The board also approved eight appointees Friday to the state-mandated Citizens’ Oversight Committee. They are Mark Dziak, Josh Epstein, Chuck Gelhaar, Larry Gill, Shannon Griffin, Mike Leininger, Timothy O’Hair and Jacob Tujian, most of whom are parents and who together present a range of expertise.

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