Construction at Malibu Schools will Continue into Start of School Year

Ongoing construction on the Webster Elementary School campus

Construction crews at Malibu High School and Webster Elementary School are working on numerous projects ahead of the first day of school for local kids. Across town, the school district prepares plans to accommodate Juan Cabrillo Elementary School students at Point Dume Elementary School.

Malibu High School

As of this month, the high school’s old buildings A/B—which housed administration offices, the library and science labs—have been demolished. 

“This is the phase in construction where it doesn’t look like a whole lot is happening for a while,” Carey Upton, Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District Chief Operating Officer, said in a phone call with The Malibu Times

The building replacement was originally on hold due to the main distribution frame (MDF), which Upton described earlier this year as the “nerve center” of the campus. The MDF holds the controls to the school’s low wattage technology such as phones, alarms, bells, clocks and more.

The nerve center was moved behind building D—next to the original designated area—in an approximately 9 x 12 ft. space. (The original spot was not usable due to sewer, gas and water pipes in the ground.)

With the move complete, construction moved to the building itself. By the time it is complete, MHS students will have access to three new science laboratories.

The middle school building—“the shipping container building,” as Upton described it, or building E—is under construction at a factory “to be delivered at the end of August right after school starts.” 

(A plan approved by the SMMUSD School Board in 2017 describes the incoming middle school building as a two-story structure made of shipping containers—a specialty of company GrowthPoint Structures.)

As for parking, the student lot has already been completed and serves as staff parking for now. Upton believed it would remain a faculty parking lot, though he has yet to confirm with MHS Principal Dr. Cheli Nye.

And finally, looming over the school district is a 2016 court case in which the judge ordered the district to replace pre-1979 door and window frames at MHS and Juan Cabrillo Elementary School or cease use of affected buildings by Dec. 31, 2019.

“We will meet it in some fashion,” Upton said, when asked about the upcoming date. “Exactly which fashion we meet it in will depend on whether the citizens of Malibu approve the general obligation bond.” 

He was talking about a unanimous decision made two weeks ago at a school board meeting where two school facilities improvement bonds were approved—one for each city in the district—for the Nov. 6 ballot.

As part of the set of questions the school district needs to address before the judge, Upton said, “Do we need to spend a lot of money and work on a building we’re going to replace?”

Webster Elementary School

There was a slight delay in securing the final permit to begin work at Webster Elementary School, according to Upton.

“We will not have it completed in time for school to start,” he said. 

The school district is “waiting to see how far we get” with construction in order to create a transition plan for the rapidly upcoming school year, which starts on Aug. 23. Patrick Miller, the school’s principal, said Webster would “largely be operational” by that time.

Since most of the work is being done outside of the classroom area, he added that there would not be too much disruption to students and faculty.

“This year, it’s a lot of groundwork. Last year, [it was] windows, paint, flooring,” Miller said of the construction at the school.

Now in its 70th year, the school is getting needed changes—the most important of which is the parking drop-off safety project. 

“You were walking behind cars and in and out of traffic lanes,” Miller described in a phone call with TMT. “Our sidewalk will get extended all the way along our school … to improve the safety. 

“It should improve traffic flow for sure. It will also improve the front of our school,” he added.

The dirt lot will be paved and landscaped with designated bus lanes and a parking lot.

Part of the plan also includes replacing the asphalt at the school.

“It was all breaking and cracking and creating unsafe surfaces,” Upton described.

Certain lamps are being redone to meet code and compliance. In “keeping that 70-year school up to date,” Miller said the roofing was being repaired as well.

Point Dume Marine Science School

In preparation for a Juan Cabrillo-Pt. Dume student body merger, a plan is currently being designed.

“We are about ready to submit that in September to the Division of State Architects,” Upton said.

However, he added that there was a lot of work to be done like securing a coastal development permit from the City of Malibu and complying with the California Environmental Quality Act.

As part of the realignment plan, Pt. Dume will be receiving new portable classrooms to house the new student body.

Upton was confident that the school would be ready for use under this new plan by August 2019.