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Simi High School Band Gets Marching Orders : Education: Quake repairs require music classes to be relocated. News is the latest in string of misfortunes for players.

SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

They lost $14,000 worth of musical instruments to looters and 20 years worth of trophies to cleaning crews after the Northridge earthquake rocked their school.

And now, a year later, Simi Valley High School music students have been notified that their band classes will have to be moved--possibly off-campus--while construction crews repair the earthquake-damaged building where they practice.

“We don’t have the answer ‘where’ and we don’t have the answer ‘when,’ ” Assistant Principal Dennis Rast said of the pending move. "(But) we know that everyone’s best interest is going to be addressed.”

Five instrumental music classes, including two with more than 50 students, plus choral and art classes will be moved from the school’s multipurpose room by Feb. 7, when the new semester begins, school officials said.

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Cafeteria service will also have to be moved out before construction begins Feb. 15.

The multipurpose room sustained more than $1-million damage in the quake, and the school gymnasium losses were about $950,000, officials said.

Both structures have been condemned for a year, but officials hope to have the buildings open by September.

“We have fast-tracked both of these projects,” said Lowell Shultze, the school district’s interim business manager. “And to do that, we must start construction right away.”

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Although rooms where music and art classes are held were not severely damaged by the quake, the entire multipurpose facility must be closed because of safety concerns, Shultze said.

“In order to do the construction, certain areas have to be zoned off,” Assistant Supt. Susan C. Parks said.

The school district notified high school administrators of the move Jan. 10, but they are still uncertain where classes will go, Shultze said. Although school leaders would like to keep classes on campus, Rast said: “Everything is being considered.”

For some classes, the move will be easy. An English class and a history class held in rooms next to the gym will be relocated to other classrooms on campus.

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But school leaders are unsure where to put 25 noisy drummers enrolled in the drum class, not to mention 50 students in the concert band, instrumental music Director Larry Elginer said.

“We don’t have any large rooms that are available,” he said. “I’m sure we’ll find something.”

Among the options is moving some groups to a nearby church for practice. And students could be bused to another location, school officials said.

“We are not leaving any stone unturned,” Elginer said.

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The news came as a surprise for students, parents and teachers who have endured a year of ups and downs following the Northridge quake.

“They just kind of dropped a bomb on the teacher,” said Sheri Solum, president of the Simi Valley High band boosters. “Everybody is just kind of in shock. There’s a lot of concern.”

And the move is just the latest trauma.

Cleaning crews inadvertently threw away 20 years worth of band trophies, fearing the memorabilia had been contaminated by asbestos-spoiled debris, Solum said.

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In June, a post-quake inventory revealed that about $14,000-worth of musical instruments were missing from band storage. Administrators said the instruments were probably stolen.


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