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School District Spending More than $5 Million to Repair Rain-Damaged Buildings

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By Lookout Staff

March 28, 2023 -- Record-breaking rains have left School District officials scrambling to fix more than 110 existing leaks in waterlogged buildings, officials said in a letter this week.

The Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District (SMMUSD) is spending some $5.2 million to clean up the water and address the damage caused by the relentless series of storms that have swept through the area in recent months.

Students and staff in impacted buildings are being moved to other learning spaces on campus as maintenance and operations crews, who remain on-call, work overtime to make needed repairs.

"Our aging SMMUSD buildings have failed to keep the water out of interior spaces at some of our facilities," District officials wrote in a letter to parents, staff, students and community members.

"As problems arose the past few months of rain, we have worked to repair and improve roofs and drainage as quickly as possible. We humbly acknowledge that we have not always met this challenge."

There are 576 roofs and nearly 1.4 million square feet of roofing in the District, of which 2 percent currently need to be replaced and 7.4 percent need to be repaired and restored, District officials said.

"The number of leaks due to the rainfall this year has stretched the resources of the division," Interim Superintendent Mark Kelly and Chief Operations Officer Carey Upton wrote.

"Our facility team has been working to clean up water quickly, determine the cause of the leaks, investigate potential environmental impacts, repair roofs, gutters, pipes and waterproof windows.

"The cause of water intrusion is investigated, then a restoration plan is initiated for repair areas that have been impacted," they wrote.

According to the letter, "critical roof repairs" are being made or scheduled, with some work taking place during spring break while larger repairs and replacement projects will be undertaken in summer.

After roofs are repaired, workers will repair ceiling tiles and other areas damaged by water, including baseboards. Bungalows will be inspected and fixed, with damaged ramps fixed during spring break.

Air scrubbers will be placed in the portables and air ducts will be cleaned in the summer "unrelated to the rains and potential biological growth."

In addition, leaves and other debris that has accumulated between and under bungalows will be cleared, officials said.

"We take great pride in our ongoing efforts to maintain our facilities to ensure our students and staff are housed in safe, well-maintained, learning environments," Kelly and Upton wrote.

"We are all in this together and working to address issues as quickly as possible, while we continue to update our schools through bond-funded modernization projects, new construction and bungalow replacement."

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