After weeks of unprecedented storms and rainfall, the need for roof repair and replacement across Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District’s campuses has become increasingly clear, prompting the district to dedicate nearly $5.2 million for such work.

“Our aging SMMUSD buildings have failed to keep the water out of interior spaces at some of our facilities,” SMMUSD Interim Superintendent Mark Kelly and Chief Operations Officer Carey Upton wrote in an update sent out to community members this week.

Kelly said that the district’s facility team is currently working to fix over 110 leaks and that 2% of the district’s 576 roofs need to be fully replaced while 7.4% need repair and restoration.

“We understand the concerns and distractions caused with these issues that we know have led some to worry about classroom air quality, mold, flooding and falling ceiling tiles,” Kelly and Upton wrote. “As soon as issues are reported, our team of maintenance and operations staff, along with some outside contractors, begin to address the issues to determine what is required to fully remedy the problems.”

They said that the extent of issues has stretched the facilities department thin. At a meeting of the Board of Education on March 29, Board President Maria Leon Vasquez said that because some of the issues have reached the point of becoming a safety concern, additional funding through bonds is available to remedy them.

“A lot of the issues, because of years of not really following up with some of the repairs, became safety issues…” she said. “That’s why we have the bond, because the bonds that we passed, the construction bonds were there for safety for the campuses.”

Approximately $4M for roof replacements will come from general obligation bonds, likely Measure SMS as well as Measure ES if funds are available, according to Upton. He said the remaining $1.2 million will be from Fund 25, which is used to bring facilities back up to standards. He added that roof replacements are capital expenditures with a 20 plus year warranty.

The district expects some of the work to be done next week during spring break and more during summer vacation. However, Leon noted that finding people to do the work that is needed is challenging due to high demand for such services.

“One of the main things, though, that people have to take into consideration is that we’re not the only district, other districts are trying to use the same companies to do all this work so even if we are able to move it on our end to get purchase orders, to make sure we have money aligned… sometimes it’s hard to go out and get companies to do the work because everybody is stretched out thin trying to do the same repairs,” she said.

In addition to roof-related work, Kelly and Upton said staff are working on scheduling “proactive” interior and exterior inspections for bungalows on campuses, repairing damaged ramps and clearing out standing water and debris such as leaves.

“We strive to meet our goal of safe school environments throughout the district and have provided improvements, modernizations and plans for further improvement in the coming years at all of our schools,” they wrote. “We appreciate your ongoing support and patience as our teams work through critical issues across the district as quickly as possible.”

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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...