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District gets bang for its buck

Tough economy helps officials stretch bond money to surprising lengths.

July 13, 2011|By Andrew Shortall, andrew.shortall@latimes.com

Times might be tough, but for the second summer in a row, the La Cañada Unified School District is undertaking a variety of construction projects. It is in the process of renovating La Cañada High’s north gym and quad area, and it’s also renovating the library at Paradise Canyon Elementary. It also is installing security cameras district-wide.

The funds for the four different projects, which total $886,327, are coming from a 2004 bond. The target date for completion of all the projects is August, before the 2011-12 school year begins.

A tough economy that’s resulted in construction companies outbidding each other for projects has given the district the ability to stretch those bond dollars over the past seven years, said Mike Leininger, the district’s assistant superintendent of facilities and operations.

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“We have been able to achieve much more than we first expected,” Leininger said.

Leininger originally estimated the projects at LCHS would cost $1,078,888, but the school board accepted bids that totaled $735,337. The district also accepted a $140,990 bid for the security-camera project after expecting that it would come in at about $200,000.

“Although the economy has not been good for consumers, it’s been wonderful for the district,” Leininger said.

La Cañada High’s north gym locker rooms are receiving a number of upgrades this summer. The boys’ and girls’ locker rooms and restrooms are in the process of being modernized with new paint, lighting, shower fixtures, new lockers and ceramic tile repair and replacement.

The school’s quad project will consist of widening the north and south entrances to the quad and bringing in additional tables for more seating at lunch.

A portion of Paradise Canyon Elementary’s library will also be undergoing some modernization to provide a “much-needed conference room for meetings,” said Leininger of the project that will cost just around $10,000. The room will be accessible from the outside and the walls will be sound-proofed.

Security cameras will also be installed at district sites with the aim of reducing vandalism when school is not in session, Leininger said.

Even after this summer is over, the district will have money left over from the 2004 bond for more projects.

“As a result of all of the good bids we’ve gotten, we have between $900,000 to $1 million left,” Leininger said.
 
 

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