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District dashes hopes for 50-meter LCHS pool, opts for modular building at Palm Crest

The La Cañada school board made some big decisions Tuesday, approving a contract for the design of a 40-meter pool at La Cañada High School and deciding on a prefabricated modular building for an upcoming Palm Crest Elementary School renovation.

During their discussion of the La Cañada High pool, board members heard final arguments from La Cañada resident David Haxton, who rallied support among many in the community for an Olympic 50-meter option that might serve a wider public use.

“There’s a shortage of 50-meter pools [in the area] and in La Cañada there’s a shortage of flat land,” Haxton said. “Fifty meters is for the community, and anything smaller is just for the 9-12 high school.”

Haxton recently asked whether La Cañada city officials might chip in on the project — estimated to cost at least $1 million more than its $9.3-million, 40-meter counterpart — but La Cañada Unified Supt. Wendy Sinnette said there’s been no indication of interest from city officials.


Board members agreed that after months of talks and analysis, it was time to act in the interest of the school and district. Board member Dan Jeffries said a joint use pool would take up too much space and restrict the hours LCHS could use it.

“We recognize there is a tremendous benefit to the community [with] a 50-meter pool,” he added. “The problem is there’s not a benefit to the district. In fact there are some negatives to the district, with the loss of field space and the loss of control of use of the pool.”

Ultimately, the school board decided to allow Pasadena-based Gonzalez Goodale Architects to move forward with the $884,483 Phase 2 of its design services for a 40-meter pool on the south side of the South Gym, about 5,000 square feet of locker rooms, restrooms and storage space, new basketball courts at the current pool location and expansion of the south parking lot by 50 spaces.

Modular building lowers cost of Palm Crest rebuild

After months of analyzing different configurations of a two-story classroom building, a large part of a $27.5-million renovation project planned for Palm Crest Elementary School in the coming years, school board members came to the conclusion a prefabricated building could save some $3 million over a site-constructed building.


Harold Pierre, a project manager from Irvine-based LPA Architectural Consulting, offered a cost-benefits analysis of each option, telling board members a modular building would cost about $300 to $375 per square foot, depending on how customized it would be, compared to the $512-per-square-foot cost of a traditional building.

With cost savings in mind, board members approved drawing up plans for a roughly 26,000- to 28,000-square foot modular building at the north end of the campus, near Jessen Drive.

“Modular presents a realistic option for us, especially in the context of a holistic bond program,” said board Vice President Joe Radabaugh. “I think we’re being good stewards of money, potentially squeezing a little bit out of a project over here so we can do some other things we want to do across the district.”

Also Tuesday, the school board:

• Approved a new after-school robotics course that would allow students to earn elective credit for activities now deemed extracurricular and heard a request from La Cañada High freshman Ryan Kuo and LCHS 7/8 science teacher Andrew Arthur that the board consider an advanced research science seminar class so students who compete in science competitions, like the Science Olympiad, could earn course credit.

• Awarded contractor bids that will allow for construction of a new playground at La Cañada Elementary School ($702,260), a lunch shelter at Paradise Canyon Elementary ($179,060) and installation of a sewer line at Palm Crest ($427,000) — all projects slated for this summer.

• Approved a $93,000 contract to Pasadena’s Chalmers Construction Services, Inc. to convert a book room at La Cañada High School into a Wellness Center, in anticipation of an opening at the start of the 2019-20 school year.

• Passed a $432,000 contract with Sherman Oaks-based Digital Synergy Consulting, Inc. to increase the bandwidth of LCUSD’s wireless network from a 1 GB capacity to 12 GB. Chief Technical Officer Jamie Lewsadder said as many as 2,500 devices use the network each day, taking up 60% to 70% of the available bandwidth. An upgrade, she said, would help LCUSD prepare for future needs. The district applied for and received a federal refund that will subtract $186,874 from the total cost of the contract.

• Heard a report from Supt. Sinnette, who said L.A. environmental consulting firm Ninyo & Moore, contracted by the district to monitor air quality during the Devil’s Gate Dam Sediment Removal project, would begin collecting baseline data on April 29 and 30. On April 30 at 7 p.m. in the La Cañada High School auditorium, parent-led community group LCF 4 Healthy Air will hold a public-safety meeting to inform residents of the impending project, its impacts and what’s being done to minimize health risks.


Twitter: @SaraCardine