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District report finds campuses need almost $700 million in upgrades

The Glendale Unified School District Administration Building on Tuesday, June 13, 2017. Recently, sc
Glendale Unified schools need nearly $700 million worth of repairs, upgrades and improvements, a report issued last week by district staff found. Not included in that price are upgrades for the district’s headquarters, pictured above.
(File photo)

Glendale Unified schools need nearly $700 million worth of repairs, upgrades and improvements, according to a report issued last week by district staff.

The school board held a special meeting to discuss the remaining balance of Measure S, which was approved by voters in 2011 and generated in total $270 million in general obligation bonds for facility improvements.

“This is a preliminary look at our school needs, so we are really looking at it from … a helicopter view or bird’s-eye view,” said Hagop Kassabian, the district’s director of planning and development.

While Glendale Unified still has about $44 million left in unallocated Measure S dollars and is projecting $26 million in future funding from sources such as developer fees and state monies, talk of a possible new bond measure and parcel tax arose.

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“Looking at these numbers, it seems like we need a $1-billion bond or something to make this happen,” board vice president Armina Gharpetian said.

“We have a lot of needs and wants and must-haves, but we need to narrow it down to whatever is left now,” she added.

Kassabian presented a report that includes a price tag of roughly $683 million in upgrades for all 32 of the district’s campuses.

The costs are broken into three parts: $511.58 million for new improvements, infrastructure needs and safety, security and accessibility upkeep, $52.60 million for upgrades tied to the Americans with Disability Act and $105.20 million in contingency funds.

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Safety and security include items such as secure pick-up and drop-off areas, while infrastructure projects consist of needs associated with building mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems, along with items such technology, building exteriors, athletic facilities and general maintenance.

Any buildings, playgrounds or structures that need to be built fall under new improvements.

The more than $100 million in contingency funds, according to Kassabian, are for soft costs and construction escalation.

The total price tag averages close to $21.4 million per campus, though some sites fall well short of that amount and others are way over.

College View and Daily High schools would be the district’s least costly campuses, in terms of repairs, needing renovations that would cost $921,000 and $975,000, respectively.

On the other hand, Hoover High School tops all campuses in terms of need, with an estimate of $57.78 million, followed by the district’s Pacific Avenue Education Center at $39.21 million.

“A good example of a proposed improvement at Hoover is refurbishing the auditorium and probably also fixing up the [heating, ventilation and air conditioning] in older buildings,” said Steve Dickinson, Glendale Unified’s chief business and financial officer.

Dickinson pointed to the removal of bungalows at Glenoaks and Monte Vista elementary schools. Monte Vista recently filed a Williams Complaint against the district in part because of a lack of restroom access due to its bungalows.

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Installation of permanent classrooms at both sites is considered a new improvement.

The estimates were made for the district’s five high schools, four middle schools, 20 elementary schools and three specialized-education sites.

Glendale Unified’s headquarters, which needs at least $40 million in repairs after a property swap proposal was denied in December, was not included in the report.

Though the district’s infrastructure needs are great, board member Nayiri Nahabedian urged caution in pushing for a bond measure.

“If we’re going to have information on a bond measure, I, for one, need to … have information on a parcel tax,” she said.

“We also have, I would imagine, the same number of dollars as needs for things other than structural and for infrastructure improvements,” she added.

Board members did not take a position on either a bond measure or parcel tax and are expected to discuss the possibility of action at a future meeting.

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