Printer Friendly
The Free Library
22,728,043 articles and books

LAUSD EXPLOITS LOOPHOLE IN LAW; $300 MILLION SOUGHT FOR 40 NEW CAMPUSES.



Byline: Terri Hardy Sacramento Bureau

Despite the environmental problems over Belmont Learning Center This Belmont Learning Center contains information about a building currently under construction.
It may contain information of a speculative nature, and the content may change dramatically as construction progresses and new information becomes available.
 and other new schools, LAUSD LAUSD Los Angeles Unified School District (Los Angeles, CA)  officials hope to use a new legal loophole to snare snare (snar) a wire loop for removing polyps and tumors by encircling them at the base and closing the loop.

snare
n.
 $300 million in state funds for 44 new campuses before they conduct environmental and planning studies.

The loophole, being exploited only by Los Angeles Los Angeles (lôs ăn`jələs, lŏs, ăn`jəlēz'), city (1990 pop. 3,485,398), seat of Los Angeles co., S Calif.; inc. 1850.  Unified and one other district, was written into a bill the legislature approved last year when it put Proposition 1A, the $9.2 billion school facilities bond measure, on the ballot.

The state Department of Education and critics of the district's environmental record did not recognize - until now - that the provision allocated $700 million for districts to reduce class size without normal safety protections in advance of funding.

Now, after having failed to capture any of the voter-approved bond money allocated so far for new school construction under Proposition 1A, Los Angeles Unified School District The Los Angeles Unified School District (the "LAUSD") is the largest (in terms of number of students) public school system in California and the second-largest in the United States. Only the New York City Department of Education has a larger student population.  officials hope to use the little-known loophole extensively, the Daily News has learned.

State officials acknowledge the loophole leaves them little authority to ensure that land for new campuses is free of environmental problems, and fear the provision could pave the way for a repetition of the debacle surrounding the Belmont Learning Center, the nation's costliest school which is being built atop an oil field.

Assemblyman Scott Wildman Scott Wildman was a California State Assemblyman from 1996 until 2000. That year, he lost a State Senate primary to Dr. Jack Scott, an Assemblyman from a neighboring district. Wildman received 46.7% of the vote. , D-Glendale, a member of the State Allocation Board which disburses new school funds, said he would fight any LAUSD attempt to win state financing without putting each property through a stringent environmental review.

``I'm not writing Los Angeles Unified a blank check Blank check

A check that is duly signed, but the amount of the check is left blank to be supplied by the drawee.
 that could go towards funding other Belmonts,'' said Wildman, who has extensively investigated Belmont. ``They do not have a record that would allow you to trust them.''

The immediate cash the LAUSD is reaching for is available only to districts that meet two criteria - they must have severely overcrowded o·ver·crowd  
v. o·ver·crowd·ed, o·ver·crowd·ing, o·ver·crowds

v.tr.
To cause to be excessively crowded: a system of consolidation that only overcrowded the classrooms.
 schools that have been unable to reduce kindergarten through third-grade classes to 20 students, and must be able to provide 50 percent matching funds Noun 1. matching funds - funds that will be supplied in an amount matching the funds available from other sources
cash in hand, finances, funds, monetary resource, pecuniary resource - assets in the form of money
 using local dollars. LAUSD has such funds from Proposition BB.

The rule was expected to apply to a handful of districts statewide, but only L.A. Unified and the Santa Ana Unified School District Santa Ana Unified School District (SAUSD) is a school district in Orange County, California that serves the city of Santa Ana. Although its geographic size is only 24 square miles, it is the third largest school district in the state of California with 61,693 students.  applied.

The waiver is a provision of Senate Bill 50, authored by former Sen. Leroy Greene, D-Sacramento. SB50 put Proposition 1A on the ballot and earmarked a total of $6.7 billion for kindergarten through 12th grade, including $700 million for class size reduction and other amounts for school modernization, new school construction and other uses.

State Department of Education officials said they did not consider the ramifications ramifications nplAuswirkungen pl  of the provision granting expedited funds for class-size reduction. But they emphasized that the LAUSD would ultimately have to put parcels through environmental review after receiving state funding.

In the past, the school district received state money and used it to purchase contaminated contaminated,
v 1. made radioactive by the addition of small quantities of radioactive material.
2. made contaminated by adding infective or radiographic materials.
3. an infective surface or object.
 property without proper environmental tests Environmental tests are used to verify a piece of equipment can withstand the rigors of harsh environments, for example:
  • extremely high and low temperatures
  • large, swift variations in temperature
  • blown and settling sand and dust
  • salt spray and salt fog
. At the downtown Belmont high school Belmont High School may refer to:
  • Belmont High School (Los Angeles) in Los Angeles, California http://www.belmonths.org/
  • Belmont High School (Belmont, Massachusetts) in Belmont, Massachusetts
  • Belmont High School (Mississippi) in Belmont, Mississippi http://www.
 property, the district is at a crossroads - either abandon the project after spending $123 million or spend millions more for cleanup. Environmental problems also have troubled two other new schools, Jefferson and South Gate.

Safeguards removed

To avoid another Belmont, state officials have revamped their approval process, making it necessary for the state to sign off on a property before L.A. Unified gets money. But under the class-size reduction provision those safeguards would not be in place, state officials said.

``What's to prevent the LAUSD from buying land before state approval? They (would already have) the money,'' said Duwayne Brooks, director of school facilities and planning for the Department of Education.

L.A. Unified officials dismiss those concerns, saying new policies within the district will ensure that any new land purchased is safe for students.

``I don't see another Belmont happening,'' said Lynn Roberts Lynn Roberts is APD/MD and afternoon drive host of Saga Communications' KAFE-FM in Bellingham WA. , the district's new general manager of facilities. She noted the district would be working with an in-house safety team assembled in the wake of the Belmont problems, as well as the state, before it bought any property.

Under a new board policy, each school would have a program manager with experience in environmental safety as well as construction, said Genethia Hayes, president of the Los Angeles school The Los Angeles School of Urbanism is an academic movement emerged during the mid-1980s, loosely based at the University of Southern California and UCLA, that poses a challenge to the dominant Chicago School of Urbanism.  board, who was elected on promises of reform and concerns about Belmont.

``There would be one person accountable,'' Hayes said. ``That was the problem with Belmont, the district had not designated one person to do all the things we needed to do.''

Steve Soboroff Steve Soboroff (born August 31, 1948) is a real estate developer and president of Playa Vista. Mr. Soboroff is the Chairperson of the Leavey Center for the Study of Los Angeles at Loyola Marymount University. , chairman of the citizen's watchdog group that oversees the $2.4 billion local bond measure for school construction and maintenance, said the panel has recommended that no Proposition BB funds be used for new school sites unless the district obtains an environmental insurance policy.

``If something is found to be wrong with the land afterwards, it will be the insurance company that pays for it,'' he said.

Going for the money

Lyle Smoot, the LAUSD's state building program coordinator, said the district will go to the State Allocation Board this month for funds to build 44 schools to ease congestion The condition of a network when there is not enough bandwidth to support the current traffic load.

congestion - When the offered load of a data communication path exceeds the capacity.
 caused by the state's reduction of class sizes in grades K-3.

Despite assurances from district officials, critics like Wildman say a district as ``dysfunctional'' as the LAUSD cannot be turned around in a matter of months. He noted that when the state last turned over $1 billion in bond money to the LAUSD, the district only gained six elementary schools and one middle school.

``Until they clean house there, the same problems are going to happen,'' Wildman said.

Toxic legacy Toxic Legacy is a documentary by Susan Teskey and it was produced for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. It was broadcast on the CBC and Discovery Times in September, 2006.  

So potentially dangerous is the accumulation of methane gas at the Belmont site that a special commission will consider whether the district can safely operate Belmont, or must stop construction. A district safety team has said the district should not have purchased the site.

School officials are also facing the possibility of abandoning the Tweedy Elementary School site, which to date has received $16 million in state funds. A recent estimate to clean up the hazardous conditions there was deemed ``too expensive'' by district officials, and the LAUSD could walk away if another, cheaper alternative is not available, Smoot said. The possibility of cleaning up another problem site, the new South Gate High School, is still ``up in the air'' Smoot said.

Smoot said the cash will help keep the LAUSD toward its goal of building 100 new schools over the next decade.

Since Proposition 1A was approved, the LAUSD has failed to submit a single application for new campus funds, despite repeated statements that they would be deluging the state with requests.

To receive those funds for an additional 54 schools that do not qualify for the immediate cash waiver, environmental reviews must be completed before the application is submitted. Smoot admits that this environmental requirement has been the main obstacle behind its failure to submit a request.

``Belmont raised such hackles hackles

the hairs over the neck and back that are elevated by arrector pili muscles in response to fright or anger. A mechanism to threaten opponents, perhaps by appearing larger.
 that we want to know the situation at a site before we go forward,'' Smoot said.

The district's failure to capture any funds has worried the citizen's watchdog committee that oversees the local bond funds that will be used to match state money.

``There's a decent chance that L.A. will not get funding to build but a handful of the 50 to 100 schools it needs,'' said David Abel, a member of the Proposition BB committee.

Even if the district is able to receive the $300 million immediately, it still must pursue funding for an additional 54 schools in the conventional manner. Abel notes that the district must quickly ``get its act together'' to line up properties and get environmental and design approval.

Additional Proposition 1A funds for new schools will be available July 2000, and Abel and others expect competition will be fierce for the funds.

``If the LAUSD falls woefully woe·ful also wo·ful  
adj.
1. Affected by or full of woe; mournful.

2. Causing or involving woe.

3. Deplorably bad or wretched:
 short, it will damage confidence of the voters,'' Abel said.

Bruce Hancock, the assistant executive officer of the State Allocation Board, said he had expected applications from the LAUSD and noted that the money is handed out on a first-come, first-served “FCFS” redirects here. For the figure skating competition, see Four Continents Figure Skating Championships.

This article is about a general service policy. For the technical concept, see FIFO.
 basis.

``It's a matter of how long the money holds out,'' Hancock said. ``There's this urban myth that the LAUSD is going to come up here and snap up all the money from the small districts, but the reality is that the opposite is happening.''

Hancock agreed that LAUSD's main problem has been environmental.

``The LAUSD is in a very difficult situation,'' Hancock said. ``It's got to build schools, but it is having a heck of a time identifying sites that don't have seemingly insurmountable environmental problems.''

Of the $1.3 billion available this year for new school construction, $761 million has so far been approved to 29 districts. There was an additional $800 million available for modernization projects, and that fund has been exhausted. The LAUSD received $54 million from those funds. Two requests submitted to the state well before the passage of Proposition 1A were approved and ``grandfathered,'' records show.

Full-court press full-court press
n.
1. Basketball An aggressive defensive strategy in which one or two players harass the ball handler in the backcourt while the rest of the team maintains a close man-to-man or zone defense.

2.
 

So important is the cash that the LAUSD hired Smoot, the former deputy director of the State Allocation Board, to coordinate its building program. The first priority of the $98,839-a-year job is to speed applications through the state process.

Three consulting firms have also been brought in to write the applications. Van Gundy Van Gundy is the surname of two NBA coaches, who are brothers.
  • Jeff Van Gundy former coach of the Houston Rockets and the New York Knicks
  • Stan Van Gundy former coach of the Miami Heat.
 and Associates will receive $49,000 this year. Building Systems Management's contract is increasing from $49,000 to $149,000 a year and School Facilities Consultants' contract will rise from $149,000 to $249,000 a year.

Despite these measures, BB committee members said they have serious concerns about whether the LAUSD will be able to get funding for the 54 schools.

``The state does not take into consideration the problems that urban districts face, including environmental problems, the time to get land and issues of building schools on tight spaces,'' Soboroff said.

Others say that the LAUSD was never capable of handling the job. District personnel - including board members and top officials in facilities and real estate - were overwhelmed by the task.

``They were totally unprepared professionally to cope with this challenge,'' one insider said.
COPYRIGHT 1999 Daily News
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1999, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

 Reader Opinion

Title:

Comment:



 

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Aug 8, 1999
Words:1683
Previous Article:MURDERER IS HERO TO SATANISTS, OTHERS.
Next Article:[0] NEWS LITE : GORE, SON TAKE TOP-SECRET CLIMB.
Topics:



Related Articles
EDITORIAL SECRET SOCIETY LAUSD BOARD MUST STOP MEETING BEHIND CLOSED DOORS.
EDITORIAL COURTING TRUTH.
SCANDAL FIGURES SAY THEY FOLLOWED LAUSD ORDERS.
EDITORIAL : NOT ONE PENNY MORE; STATE SHOULD NOT GIVE LAUSD ANY STATE FUNDS UNTIL THE DISTRICT PROVES IT'S RESPONSIBLE.
PROPOSAL MAY GET FUNDS FOR LAUSD.
BELMONT MAY BE DROPPED; PANEL EXPECTED TO VOTE TODAY ON COMPLEX'S FATE.
LAUSD WOOS STATE MONEY; ARMY CORPS CHIEF NO STRANGER TO BELMONT.
BUILDER FIGHTS AUDIT CHARGES; BELMONT OVERBILLING ALLEGATIONS DISPUTED.
LAUSD GETS GRIM NEWS ON BELMONT; PANEL SAYS DISTRICT MUST FOLLOW RULES OR ELSE.
TOXIC CLEANUP AT SCHOOL SITE QUESTIONED.

Terms of use | Copyright © 2014 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters