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June 24, 2018

Orange County school, closed because of asbestos, is back in session

School is in session again at an Orange County school that was closed for months after asbestos was discovered.

Oak View Elementary was one of three campuses closed when the hazardous mineral fiber was discovered during an 11-campus modernization project in July.

The closures displaced more than 1,600 students, who were being bused to eight other campuses in four school districts at a cost of $50,000 a week.

Most students returned to Oak View Elementary School in Huntington Beach on Tuesday. Lake View and Hope View elementary schools remain closed.

Oak View students in grades 3 through 5 returned to their original classrooms in portable buildings. Second-graders are being taught in portable buildings that had been used for teacher meetings and after-school programs.

First-graders will attend Sun View Elementary School and kindergartners will remain at Pleasant View School, both in Huntington Beach.

Since Oak View was closed in October, more than 600 Oak View students, including kindergartners, have been attending classes at Village View Elementary, Oak View Preschool, Pleasant View School – all in the Ocean View district – and Walter Knott Elementary in Buena Park.

The district is working on a timeline for asbestos cleanup at Oak View.

According to district documents, air samples taken at Oak View in October did not contain asbestos levels above standards set in the federal Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act, which regulates how much asbestos can be present in public buildings including schools.

At a board meeting last week, several parents of Oak View students said they were worried about their children falling behind academically while attending temporary schools.

Twitter: @NicoleShine

Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times

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Orange County school, closed because of asbestos, is back in session

3 months later, O.C. school closed by asbestos scare to reopen

Students displaced from a Huntington Beach grade school will begin returning to campus on Tuesday, more than three months after three schools were closed because of an asbestos scare.

Many of the students who attended the three campuses have been bused to schools elsewhere in Orange County at a cost of $50,000 a week while school officials struggled to deal with the asbestos concerns.

In all, the closures displaced more than 1,600 students.

On Tuesday, students in grades 3 through 5 will return to Oak View Elementary and be reunited with classmates in portable buildings.

Two other campuses, Lake View and Hope View elementary, remained closed.

Since Oak View was closed in October, more than 600 Oak View students, including kindergartners, have been attending classes at Village View Elementary, Oak View Preschool, Pleasant View School – all in the Ocean View district – and Walter Knott Elementary in Buena Park.

The district is working on a timeline for asbestos cleanup at Oak View. The potentially hazardous mineral fiber was discovered at some schools during an 11-campus modernization project that began in July.

When the schools were built decades ago, asbestos was used as fireproofing on metal beams above the ceilings. Over time, asbestos dust began to fall from the beams and settle on classroom ceiling tiles, district records show.

Rising costs caused the district board of trustees to vote last month to delay asbestos removal and modernization construction at Oak View.

According to district documents, air samples taken at Oak View in October did not contain asbestos levels above standards set in the federal Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act, which regulates how much asbestos can be present in public buildings like schools.

At a recent board meeting, several parents of Oak View students said they were worried about their children falling behind academically while attending temporary schools.

The children lack access to computers at Knott Elementary and can’t practice for automated Common Core tests like their peers can, parents said.

Oak View serves a large number of English as a Second Language students and low-income families, many of whom receive free or reduced-price meals at school, according to California Department of Education data. The relocations have divided siblings and disrupted families, some of whom count on social and family services available at Oak View, teachers told the school board last month.

Special-education teacher Rhonda King said one of her second-graders was accustomed to attending Oak View with his sister, a third-grader. Now he is at Village View in Huntington Beach while his sister is bused to Buena Park.

“He tells me he misses his sister,” King said. “That’s not just one family, it’s a lot of families.”

Nicole.Shine@latimes.com

For more education news, follow @NicoleKShine on Twitter

Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times

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3 months later, O.C. school closed by asbestos scare to reopen

Asbestos scare puts tiny O.C. school district on financial brink

A small Orange County school district that was forced for close campuses and bus students elsewhere in the wake of an asbestos scare is now reeling under a multimillion-dollar budget shortfall.

“You went from being a stable district to a district that’s facing insolvency,” Wendy Benkert, assistant superintendent for business services at the Orange County Department of Education, told trustees for Ocean View School District.

Benkert said the district has run through $2.9 million of $4.3 million in general fund emergency reserves and faces an additional $9.2 million in costs related to asbestos removal and a modernization project at 11 schools.

Should the Huntington Beach school district fail to close its $7.8-million shortfall, it might need emergency funding or could be taken over by the state, Benkert warned.

“But I believe with prudent decisions you can turn this around,” she said.

Asbestos was detected in some classrooms during the modernization project that began in July. The cleanup has closed three schools and left many parents furious as they have watched their children — more than 1,600 in all — be temporarily bused to classes at eight schools in four districts.

As the crisis has unfolded, district officials have remained in close contact with the Orange County Department of Education, which has oversight responsibility.

Benkert proposed several options for school board members, such as scaling down or delaying some construction work or selling an unused school site. Such a sale, however, probably wouldn’t happen quickly enough to shore up the district’s deficit, she said. Also, legal requirements would force the district to offer any open space on an unused site to the city first for a below-market rate.

Nicole Knight Shine writes for Times Community News.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times

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Asbestos scare puts tiny O.C. school district on financial brink