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Meeting X-pectations: Board Approves Contracts for School Improvements

By Teresa Rochester

Two years after Santa Monica and Malibu voters passed Proposition X, the Board of Education on Wednesday approved the first major wave of contracts for physical improvements at the district's schools mandated by the bond measure.

The board unanimously approved approximately $10 million in contracts to various firms for improvements ranging from relocatable classrooms to elementary school play fields at several schools throughout the district.

The money to pay for the projects will come from general obligation bonds approved by voters in November of 1998. The Proposition X money also is matched by the state.

Board members also unanimously decided to authorize acoustical improvements for Barnum Hall at Santa Monica High School, which will be paid for by contributions to the non-profit group Restore Barnum Hall!.

For several months the district has had difficulty finding construction firms willing to take on the projects during an unprecedented boom in the building market.

"The prices that have come in have been higher than originally budgeted," said Mark Benjamin, the soon-to-be former chair of the Prop. X Committee, before the meeting.

The contracts include:

· $2.47 million to add six new classrooms to an existing building at Roosevelt Elementary School.

· $1.19 million for three standard relocatable classrooms and three panelized classrooms at Franklin Elementary School, two panelized classrooms at McKinley Elementary School, two panelized classrooms at Muir Elementary School and one panelized classroom at Edison.

· $3.64 million for upgrading elementary school play fields at 10 sites and the installation work associated with placing panelized/standard relocatable classrooms at five sites.

· $2.70 million for work ranging from replacing windows and blinds at Franklin to a new cafeteria ceiling at McKinely.

Benjamin said there are still a few smaller projects at the district's two high schools that need to go out for bids.
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