David Mendez

Redondo Unified’s cooling plan expected to cost $6.5m

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“We’re at a point where, if we’re going to do something this summer…we have to make commitments with a potential vendor,” Superintendent Steven Keller reported to his board on Tuesday.

Redondo Union High School. A planned three-year classroom cooling plan is expected to cost $6.5 million. File photo.

by David Mendez

Classroom cooling issues came to the fore during the Redondo Beach Unified School District’s Board of Education meeting on Tuesday, as board members cautiously approach a plan to roll out air-conditioning throughout district schools.

“We’re at a point where, if we’re going to do something this summer…we have to make commitments with a potential vendor,” Superintendent Steven Keller reported to his board on Tuesday.

The tentative plan, as identified by a subcommittee, would roll out construction at the school’s elementary and middle school sites over three years. The first schools to have cooling systems installed would be six district elementary schools: Alta Vista, Beryl Heights, Birney, Madison and Washington. Year Two of the plan would cover Jefferson, Lincoln and Tulita Elementary Schools, as well as Adams and Parras Middle Schools. Redondo Union High School would be outfitted with cooling systems in Year Three of the plan.

All told, RBUSD expects to pay $6.5 million over the course of the roll-out to install classroom cooling systems throughout the district.

RBUSD expects that the budgetary hit would be mitigated by money owed to the district through state bond funds. Some matching funds from 2008’s local Measure C school bonds expect to pay back $2.38 million to the district within the next three to six months, according to district staff.

Over the next three years, there is a possible total of $10.49 million that the district may collect in state bond funds.

However, as board members noted, it’s not guaranteed that the state will pay out those bonds when expected.

“I don’t want to use any general fund dollars for this,” said board member David Witkin. “I’m worried that the ‘this will happen’ will not. Maybe it’s irrational, maybe it isn’t.”

Assistant Superintendent Janet Redella pointed out that district consultants strongly felt that the funds would be in RBUSD’s coffers within the three-to-six month time period.

“I would be comfortable to get her opinion as to what they’ve said, the likelihood, the probability and where we’d come out with this,” said board member Anita Avrick. “If we can get a letter stating their thought process, when its likely [to receive funds], and if delays would affect our first project.”

The rest of the board was on the same page.

Keller said they would attempt to have correspondence in from the district’s consultant in as soon as possible, with the board agreeing to set up an emergency meeting if necessary to have a vote made. ER

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