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2 Orange County schools closed over asbestos concerns will reopen

2 Orange County schools closed over asbestos concerns will reopen
A teacher greets students' return to Hope Elementary School following the school's partial reopening in February. The Ocean View School District says asbestos removal and modernization work at Hope View has been completed and that the school buildings will be ready for all students and faculty for the new school year. (Kevin Chang / HB Independent)

Hope View and Oak View elementary schools, two of the three Ocean View School District campuses that were closed last school year because of asbestos concerns, will welcome all their students back at the start of the new school year Sept. 9.

However, Lake View Elementary will remain closed for the entire school year, the district says.

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Construction crews have been working since fall to remove small amounts of asbestos, a mineral fiber linked to disease, that were found at the three Huntington Beach schools during a modernization project at 11 district schools. Students from Hope View, Oak View and Lake View — more than 1,600 students in all — were bused to eight other schools in four districts after the three campuses were closed in early October.

Many students returned to Oak View and Hope View earlier this year and were placed in portable classrooms on campus.

District officials said construction at Hope View has been completed and that the school buildings will be ready for students and faculty for the new school year. The campus will be open for tours by parents and students a week before the first day of school, district spokeswoman Julie Jennings said.

In March, the district approved a $1.35-million contract with American Technologies Inc. to complete the work at Hope View, officials said.

At Oak View, the asbestos abatement and modernization upgrades in the school buildings are not finished, so the district is bringing in 10 portable classrooms from the Los Alamitos Unified School District to help accommodate all the returning students.

"Once abatement is completed and the construction approved, work can begin on the modernization of the Oak View buildings," district Supt. Carol Hansen wrote in an email Monday. "If the work goes as planned, we are anticipating that the construction at Oak View will be completed sometime in January 2016."

During a board meeting Tuesday, district trustees approved a $1.84-million contract with several subcontractors to perform upgrades at Oak View.

Students from the closed Lake View Elementary will attend Ocean View's Westmont Elementary School in Westminster for the 2015-16 school year as district officials review modernization plans for the campus, Hansen wrote.

Asbestos abatement has been completed at Lake View, and a $1.22-million contract with American Technologies to upgrade the campus was approved in March, district officials said.

Busing students from the closed schools last school year cost the district up to $50,000 a week, and the asbestos and modernization work has cost millions. Ocean View officials said in March that the district was facing a projected $15.8-million budget shortfall through the 2016-17 school year.

Officials did not provide updated cost figures Wednesday.

Parents have heavily criticized the district over how the modernization project was handled and said they were not notified of the asbestos until Trustee John Briscoe learned in September that the material was being removed from schools.

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