DELAY: The campus will be closed for an additional year. Grace Inez Adams


The project to address water damage at the Muir/SMASH campus is proving to be more extensive than initially anticipated.

John Muir Elementary and Santa Monica Alternative School House (SMASH) students could be displaced for an additional year due to construction delays associated with repairing mold and water damage on campus.

According to an update from the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District (SMMUSD) this week, the campus is now expected to reopen between January and August of 2025, rather than the previous estimate of August 2024, due to changes affecting the planning, permitting and construction process and is expected to cost the District an additional $6 million.

The campus, which previously served about 550 students in Ocean Park, was closed at the end of the 2021-22 school year following the release of a report on May 17, 2021 that revealed the campus was in need of extensive repair due to years of unresolved water damage.

Following additional assessments conducted in recent months and consultations with the Division of the State Architect (DSA), SMMUSD staff are now recommending pursuing structural upgrades as part of the repair project, which complicates the design / permitting process and increases overall costs.

The recent update said that the District believes that the water intrusion repair work lends itself to “incorporating a structural upgrade” because it will expose structural systems and “make it more efficient to improve them now.”

While this decision will ultimately lengthen the process, the district hopes to mitigate this to some extent by dividing the project up by different buildings and submitting separate design and permitting proposals for each.

“The design team anticipates that this will allow the District to complete the DSA plan approval process and begin construction on these buildings while other buildings with more complicated issues are still under review at DSA,” the update read.

The District is currently in the process of selecting a general contractor for the project with proposals due on Jan. 25 and interviews to be conducted in February with the aim of seeking approval from the Board of Education for the construction contract in March.

The Board is scheduled to discuss the project and these updates at the upcoming Jan. 19 meeting.

During the meeting, the Board will also receive an update on construction projects at other schools including a new building, playfield and yard improvements at Franklin Elementary, library renovation and expansion at Grant Elementary, a new building and library modernization at McKinley Elementary, classroom and field improvements at Will Rogers Elementary and library modernization at John Adams Middle School. All of these projects are part of measure SMS which is a $485 million bond measure approved by voters in 2018.

The Board will also hear presentations on district wide sustainability progress and recent student achievement data. In closed session, prior to the public portion of the meeting, board members will meet with legal counsel to discuss several ongoing and pending cases including several related to the separation of Malibu from the district.

The public portion of the meeting will begin at 6 p.m. and will be held in person at 1651 16th St., Santa Monica with the option to watch online via Zoom available as well. Those wishing to comment virtually must submit an online form and those in person must turn in a request to speak card. The form and full agenda can be found on the SMMUSD website:

Grace Adams

Grace Adams is a graduate of Loyola Marymount University where she studied Spanish and journalism. She holds a Master’s degree in investigative journalism from City, University of London. She has experience...