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IRVINE : School Board Puts Off Most Building Projects

Irvine Unified School District board members have put most building projects on hold in response to the prospect of huge losses in the county investment pool.

But trustees last week approved spending about $275,000 to complete tennis courts near Woodbridge High School.

Deputy Supt. Paul Reed told board members it could cost $300,000 to stop the ongoing project because of financial commitments to the builders.

His cost estimate includes the potential $100,000 cost of grading the land again, if the project were restarted at a later date.

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“From a business standpoint, it didn’t make sense not to complete the thing,” said school board President Tom Burnham. “We also had liability concerns about leaving an unfinished work site.”

Of 30 different school district projects, school board members only authorized funding for the tennis courts and a handful of projects that were already completed.

Plans for several new elementary schools and a new high school were put on hold.

The school district, which has more than $105 million in the county pool, is struggling to cope with losses of $1 million in interest earnings for the current school year and a minimum $2-million loss projected for the 1995-96 school year.

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But district officials say total losses of interest and principal could reach $30 million in a worst-case scenario.

Despite the grim outlook for new school construction in the 21,500-student school district, Burnham predicts the setback will be temporary.

“If we have to take a $30-million hit, the district will still prevail,” Burnham said. “I look at this as a problem that won’t be with this district long-term. This is a one- or two-year problem.”


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