Today marks the local Board of Education’s first meeting in Malibu since the start of the school year, so it comes as little surprise to see the agenda packed with items related to chemical testing and cleanup at Malibu schools.

The school board will consider making another tweak to the Santa Monica-Malibu school district’s agreement with the state Department of Toxic Substances Control, which was originally approved in early 2014 following the discovery of polychlorinated biphenyls at Malibu High School.

What started as an a $41,664 agreement is now projected to cost the district more than $168,000, a fraction of the millions SMMUSD has spent on consultants and legal fees over the course of the ongoing controversy.

The latest modification to the agreement is to account for $9,901 worth of additional work, according to the district.

Meanwhile, the board is expected to close out its $59,980 contract with AirTek Indoor Air Solutions for duct cleaning at Malibu High and Juan Cabrillo Elementary school.

Also up for board discussion are changes to policies and best practices regarding environmental safety, hazardous substances and pest management. The changes proposed by staff would align the district’s policies with those of the California School Boards Association and specifically address PCBs.

A closer look

After reviewing district data from recent state test results at its last regular meeting, the school board will study scores from individual school sites.

SMMUSD students who took the recently implemented California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress exams performed better than their peers in the state overall, but glaring achievement gaps persist in the district along racial and socioeconomic lines.

The study session of site-level data is expected to include figures for specific subgroups, including English language learners, socioeconomically disadvantaged students and special education students.

Officials have said that educator and sociologist Pedro Noguera, who was recently hired by the district to address achievement gaps, wants SMMUSD officials to analyze “bright spots” among minority groups. District leaders plan to meet with administrators, counselors and teachers in the coming months to develop strategies to help underperforming students.

Tracking the money

The school board will consider approving a consent calendar with more than $381,000 in new purchase orders and another $96,000-plus in facility upgrades.

The tab of new orders includes $80,000 for restorative justice training this school year led by the California Conference for Equality and Justice. The Long Beach-based human relations organization will aim to address issues of bias, bigotry and racism in education as the district attempts to close longstanding achievement gaps.

The bill also includes close to $11,000 to Korade and Associate Builders for roller shades at John Adams Middle School. The item is up for board approval following concerns from students, teachers and parents about classroom temperatures amid ongoing warm weather.

Other expenses include $47,000 in computer equipment from La Verne, Calif.-based Intelli-Tech; $15,000 to Ampro Inc. for pizza at Malibu sites; $12,000 to Los Angeles-based technology education company Planet Bravo for computer instruction at Point Dume Marine Science Elementary School in Malibu; and $10,000 to Stanley Pest Control.

The facilities bill includes $36,800 to Ramboll Environ for chemical sampling at Olympic High School; nearly $30,000 to Benicia, Calif.-based Oliver Worldclass Labs for used technology equipment; and close to $15,500 to technology services company Meridian IT Inc. for licensing fees.

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