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COLD-SNAP SCHOOL DAMAGE ADDS UP LAST MONTH'S FREEZE STICKS DISTRICTS WITH HALF-MILLION-DOLLAR TAB.

Byline: KAREN MAESHIRO

Staff Writer

LANCASTER -- January's record-breaking cold snap caused more than a half-million dollars in damage at three Antelope Valley school districts, with some costs still to be calculated.

Most of the damage at Antelope Valley Union High, Lancaster and Palmdale school districts resulted from ruptured pipes that flooded rooms, damaging or destroying books, computer equipment, ceilings and carpet.

"The most damage we got was at Littlerock High School. The overhead sprinklers busted, and we ended up having to throw out a lot of books," high school trustee Donita Winn said. "The information technology building got a lot of damage from broken pipes. An overhead pipe in the bathroom went through and filled the office. There was water coming out the front door."

The high school district is so far estimating $230,000 in damage and Lancaster School District about $300,000. Palmdale had not yet calculated its costs.

Two schools in the Palmdale district and one in Lancaster were closed on Jan. 16, the Tuesday following the three-day Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend during which temperatures hit record lows.

"We are right now with contractors at $300,000. It will be more. Plus on top of that we have a lot of repairs that we have done ourselves," Lancaster Assistant Superintendent Mick McClatchey said. "We have tons of man-hours that went into this stuff for several days to get classrooms open. That doesn't even include all the damage to computers, to all the books that were destroyed, and other office equipment that was destroyed as well."

McClatchey said Sunnydale and Westwind schools suffered the most damage.

At Westwind, the fire sprinkler system burst and emptied water into 11 classrooms, hallways and the multipurpose room, soaking carpets and damaging walls, computers and books.

"It was like turning on a hose and leaving it on all day and night. We lost all of the ceiling tiles and all the insulation in the attic area," McClatchey said.

In the Palmdale School District, most of the damage from water line breaks occurred at Palmdale Learning Plaza, Los Amigos, Golden Poppy, Desert Willow, Barrel Springs and Buena Vista schools, said Al Tsai, administrator for maintenance and operations.

"We had to spend time extracting water through wet vacs. It took a day to dry out," Tsai said.

In the high school district, the damage to Littlerock High School was estimated to be about $160,000, including $100,000 worth of books damaged or lost, Deputy Superintendent Jeff Foster said.

"We had a fire sprinkler head freeze and break, and a second-floor exterior pipe freeze and break," Foster said. "We had ceiling damage and library damage. There was flooding in the library and adjacent offices."

Broken pipes caused damage at other campuses, including $30,000 at the Regional Occupational Program site on Avenue S; $25,000 at Lancaster High School; and $15,000 at Knight High.

The district's information technology office on Beech Avenue suffered $10,000 damage but that cost will be covered by the landlord, Foster said.

karen.maeshiro@dailynews.com

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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Feb 18, 2007
Words:512
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