Malibu High campus redesign plans on view

The project involves 43,000 square feet of new construction, and is expected to be done in phases, with completion targeted by spring of 2013.

By Jonathan Friedman / Assistant Editor

The Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District last week released the plans for the redesign of Malibu High School. The plans for the combined middle and high school campus were released during a meeting that was only noticed in a small local publication and on the district’s Web site. SMMUSD officials, who have faced a public relations problem during the past 12 months in this city because of a perception by many who believe the district does not care about Malibu, made no effort to contact The Malibu Times about the meeting. An assistant superintendent this week wrote an apology letter to the newspaper.

“We understand that a number of interested persons were not aware of the Notice of Preparation that was published …” wrote Assistant Superintendent Janece L. Maez. “We are truly sorry these notices were missed by so many and welcome all community input.”

The district has since placed all information about the redesign plans on its Web site at www.smmusd.org. It has also extended the initial public comment period on the project from Oct. 13 to Oct. 26. There will be three “public outreach meetings” before the draft environmental impact report is prepared, Maez wrote. A schedule for those meetings has not been set.

The project involves 43,000 square feet of new construction, and is expected to be done in phases, with completion targeted by spring of 2013. It includes the construction of a 10,000-square-foot library and an 8,000-square-foot administrative building. Both structures would be two stories and replace buildings slated for demolition.

A rooftop garden is also proposed. There are also plans for the demolition of a middle school building to make room for 24 new classrooms totaling 24,500 square feet. This will include 19 standard classrooms, two computer labs and three science rooms.

Other portions of the project are the removal of mobile classrooms to be replaced with a commons area, a 110-space parking area with emergency access to the track and field facility, a reconfigured 57-space, drop-off and pick up area coordinated with neighboring Juan Cabrillo Elementary School, a resurfaced athletic field with a synthetic surface along with a concession stand, lighting system, concrete bleachers and two new tennis courts. Upgrades are proposed for the ventilation in the gym locker rooms, the campus septic system, fire and life safety systems, and technology infrastructure.

The school district has hired a firm to write the draft EIR for the project. Once the document is released, there will be a 45-day public review period. This will give an opportunity for the public to submit comments and questions. The public input will then receive responses, and the document will go before the Board of Education for certification. Several permits from various agencies are required, including a coastal development permit from the city of Malibu.

According to the description materials, this is a $33 million project. However, the Board of Education has approved only $27.5 million of the $268 million Measure BB bond approved by voters in 2006 for this undertaking.

The funding of this project has been controversial, with the Board of Education last year initially lowering the amount of money originally promised to the school, while money designated to some Santa Monica schools was increased.

The full funding was restored to Malibu High earlier this year after an enormous outcry from Malibu parents. This issue was one of the catalysts for the recent call for Malibu to form its own school district. A group of local education activists are currently attempting to gather enough signatures to begin the secession process with a feasibility study.

Board of Education debate scheduled for Malibu

Malibu voters will have their one opportunity to see the candidates for the Board of Education engage in a debate in this city on Monday. The League of Women Voters of Santa Monica and the Santa Monica-Malibu PTA Council are cosponsoring the event at Malibu City Hall at 11 a.m. The forum is scheduled to last one hour. The public will be allowed to submit questions during the forum.

The four candidates running for three seats on the board are Santa Monica residents. Malibu’s lone representative, Kathy Wisnicki, announced last month she would not run for a second term. This means Malibu will be without a local on the board for the first time in nearly 30 years.

The candidates are incumbents Jose Escarce and Maria Leon Vazquez, along with newcomers Ben Allen and Chris Bley. Incumbent Ralph Mechur, who was appointed to his seat as a replacement for Emily Bloomfield last year, is running unopposed in a separate election to complete his term.

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The Malibu Times is the first newspaper in Malibu, serving the community since 1946.

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