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School Officials Propose Replacing Burbank High

Times Staff Writer

Burbank school officials say the district needs to replace one of its aging high schools with a new $51-million structure because of increased traffic, enrollment and noise that will be generated by the proposed Burbank Gateway shopping center nearby.

In a letter to the City Council this week, school board officials said that although they support construction of the 1.5 million-square-foot shopping mall, they believe it will severely affect Burbank High School.

The school is not equipped with soundproof windows or air conditioning and is not large enough to handle projected enrollment increases that will result as workers move to Burbank for jobs at the center, school officials said in interviews Wednesday.

The center, to be built on a 41-acre site near the Civic Center, also will create security risks and increase traffic at the school, they said. The school fronts the project site on 3rd Street.

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“Something needs to be done as quickly as possible to change things at Burbank High School,” School Board President Vivian Kaufman said. The only solution, she said, is a new school.

The school board’s letter was written in response to an environmental impact report on the project, which school officials said underplayed the impact on the school.

Kaufman said the report did not take into consideration the fact that the high school, which includes some 40-year-old buildings, is not equipped to deal with the additional noise and air pollution that will be created by the shopping mall.

“I was really appalled when I read the environmental impact report,” Kaufman said. She said problems such as traffic, security and increased enrollment also had not been adequately addressed in the report.

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City officials said Wednesday they had not received the letter but several agreed that a new school is needed.

“I don’t doubt for a second that Burbank High School is in desperate need of work,” City Manager Robert R. Ovrom said. “Something needs to be done regardless of what happens with the 41 acres.”

Councilwoman Mary Lou Howard echoed Ovrom’s comments. “Burbank obviously needs a new high school and the city should help as much as we can.”

But Howard and other city officials said that the money to build a new school will have to come from general obligation bonds, which would require approval by voters. The school board “is going to have to go out and get the community involved,” Howard said.

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Al Ziemba, an associate of the architectural firm that came up with the $51-million price tag for a new high school, said the price reflects the cost if construction were to begin on the proposed date of 1995. Ziemba said the estimate also includes the cost of a multilevel parking garage and demolition of the existing school, including removal of asbestos.

City officials said the issue of whether to build a new school will be addressed at a joint meeting between the City Council and the School Board in September.


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