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Contract for asbestos work at Oak View Elementary delayed over cost concern

The Ocean View School District will pay a contractor for asbestos abatement and other work at two campuses, but removal of asbestos at another school will have to wait.

Trustees of the Huntington Beach-based district voted unanimously during a special meeting Thursday to approve adjusted contracts with American Technologies Inc. for asbestos, mold and lead abatement completed at Lake View and Hope View elementary schools.

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The district is paying the contractor about $1.35 million for the work at Hope View and $1.22 million for Lake View.

However, a proposed $1.36 million contract for the company to perform work at Oak View Elementary did not receive the required unanimous approval. Trustee Debbie Cotton dissented in the 4-1 vote, saying the district needs to figure out a way to pay for the work.

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Ocean View is facing a projected $15.8-million budget shortfall through the 2016-17 school year. Cotton said approving the contract presented Thursday would put the district in a bigger hole.

"We're only going to have a problem if we continue to spend," she said. "I'm not going to support this [contract] this evening, and if it holds it, it holds it. We need to figure out how we're going to pay for it."

In October, the district temporarily closed Oak View, Hope View and Lake View after small amounts of asbestos were discovered during a modernization project that began in July. Some students have returned to portable buildings at Oak View and Hope View, though the main buildings at all three schools remain closed and many students are still being bused to other campuses.

Trustee John Briscoe said that although some modernization projects at Oak View have started, abatement of asbestos, mold and lead has not. Briscoe supported the contract Thursday, saying it would enable staff and students to return to the school sooner.

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"We need to have a school site that's fully usable and fully safe," he said. "They should get the same treatment, the same facilities and same consideration as Hope View and Lake View. A 'no' vote by anybody on this board would put that whole process in jeopardy."

Terry Tao, a facilities attorney with Atkinson, Andelson, Loya, Ruud & Romo, the district's legal firm, said after the meeting that the board likely will discuss details of funding the abatement at Oak View during a meeting in April.

On Nov. 4, Ocean View approved a $1.18 million contract with American Technologies to remove asbestos from Hope View. However, additional abatement for lead and mold was required for an additional $176,408, bringing the total to more than $1.35 million, according to a staff report.

On Nov. 18, trustees approved a $1.8 million contract with American Technologies for asbestos abatement and installation of heating and cooling systems at Lake View. Since then, Ocean View separated the work on the air conditioning systems and revised the contract to $819,200 for asbestos cleanup.

However, additional asbestos, mold and lead abatement cost the district $401,386, bringing the contract to $1.22 million.

Superintendent search

Trustees directed staff Thursday to start working with a hiring firm to help find a replacement for departing Supt. Gustavo Balderas.

"Superintendent hiring season is now," board President Gina Clayton-Tarvin said. "There are several neighboring school districts that have superintendent openings. … I think what we need to do is be very mindful of our timeline and make sure that we get moving on the process."

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Balderas will leave Ocean View on June 30 to become superintendent of Eugene School District 4J in Oregon.

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