The Santa Monica-Malibu school district is moving forward with facility upgrades as it attempts to deal with a bond shortfall, unresolved claim issues and concerns about student welfare.
The local Board of Education last month received an update from Jan Maez, the district’s chief financial officer, on projects funded by two bond measures that voters approved over the last decade.
“We’re trying to fix as many things as we can in a very organized and strategic way,” Maez said.
One major obstacle to the wide variety of improvements across SMMUSD is a shortfall of more than $31 million in funds linked to Measure BB, a $268-million bond that voters backed in 2006.
That figure includes a roughly $10-million deficit in Santa Monica High School projects, according to Maez. The shortfall is also tied to projects at Edison Language Academy, Olympic High School and John Adams Middle School.
The shortfall could be even larger depending on the actual costs of facility projects in Malibu, Maez said.
The board has previously discussed covering the shortfall with funds from Measure ES, a $385-million bond that voters passed in 2012.
Meanwhile, money from Measure BB is supporting a variety of upgrades at district schools.
A new science and technology building opened at Samohi at the beginning of the school year, and Maez said the district is resolving problems related to fume hood noise in its laboratories.
Additional projects at the high school are on hold as officials work on a broad plan for renovations.
At Edison, new classrooms and administrative facilities have been in use since January. A play area is expected to be ready next month, and preschool renovations will likely be completed by August.
Maez said additional fencing will be installed along Kansas Street to address concerns about campus security at the elementary school, where upgrades have taken much longer than originally projected.
Plans for modernization of Olympic High School have been approved by the Division of the State Architect, a California oversight agency. The district hopes to award a contract in within the next three months, begin construction by mid-2016 and finish the project before the start of the 2017-18 school year.
It’s anticipated that the campus will be closed this coming summer, and Maez said it’s possible that summer programs will be moved to Samohi.
Also in the works is a new district data center, Maez said. The project started with an estimated budget of less than $750,000 but has grown into a $3-million endeavor.
Bids for construction were due last month, and the school board could award a contract as soon as Dec. 10.
The project is slated for completion by the start of the 2016-17 school year, according to a district report.
The upgrades are rolling out following the district’s hiring of a bond program manager earlier this year. Massetti Consulting is making $420,000 in the first year of a 3-year contract.
Contact Jeff Goodman at 310-573-8351, firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter.