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Board Approves $48,000 Seismic Cost Study for Marin, Ocean View Schools

The Albany school board voted 4-1 Tuesday night for a cost-benefit study to help determine whether Marin and Ocean View elementary schools should be retrofitted or rebuilt to address seismic safety issues.

(L-R) Albany schools Superintendent Marla Stephenson and board members Paul Black (Pres.), Jonathan Knight (V. Pres.), Patricia Low, Allan Maris and Ronald Rosenbaum, Oct. 29, 2013. Photo credit: Charles Burress
(L-R) Albany schools Superintendent Marla Stephenson and board members Paul Black (Pres.), Jonathan Knight (V. Pres.), Patricia Low, Allan Maris and Ronald Rosenbaum, Oct. 29, 2013. Photo credit: Charles Burress
In a special meeting Tuesday night, the Albany school board agreed to pay $48,000 for a cost-benefit analysis of how to address the seismic deficiencies at Marin and Ocean View elementary schools.

Such an assessment is needed if the district wants to apply for state "seismic mitigation" funds and state financial hardship funds that could be used to bring the schools up to seismic code, according to Albany Unified School District Superintendent Marla Stephenson.

The district does not have the bonding capacity to ask voters for the estimated $40 million it could take to address the seismic issues, according to Stephenson.

At a special 5:30 p.m. meeting at City Hall Tuesday, the board voted 4-1, with board member Ronald Rosenbaum opposed, to hire WLC Architects, which has already been working with the district on its overall Facilities Master Plan, including options for addressing the seismic problems at Marin and Ocean View.

The assessment would be used to help determine whether the schools could qualify for retrofitting or for rebuilding.

Stephenson told the board that it should move quickly if it wants to compete for the funding.

"We don't have a lot of time," she said.

Leo Ray-Lynch of WLC Architects told the board, "Basically almost all of OPSC (Office of Public School Construction) funds are always first-come, first-served."

Mixed signals have come from school officials about the seriousness of the seismic problems at the two schools.

report from Stephenson prepared for the Tuesday night meeting said the district has "demonstrated that the facilities at Marin and Ocean View Elementary Schools must be repaired/replaced due to an imminent health and safety threat."

At the same time, a district "News and Announcements" web page quotes school board President Paul Black saying at an earlier board meeting that an initial study found "that there is no mortal danger to occupants of the buildings."

At the same meeting, the board voted also to demolish MacGregor High School based on assessments that it would be not economical to retrofit it. The demolition would make room for replacement portables. See "School Board OKs Demolishing MacGregor High School."

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Paul D October 30, 2013 at 10:19 AM
How many earthquake proof portables would it take to hit $40 million dollars?

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