LAUSD ADOPTS STRICTER POLLUTION STANDARDS
The board’s action goes beyond state guidelines and expands the current air quality screening scope from a quarter-mile to a half-mile. The new mandate for air quality analysis will also extend beyond freeways to include oil refineries and rail yards.
“While I know that we have to build more schools, and we are running out of available land, I do not believe it should come at the expense of our children’s ability to breathe. We have a moral obligation to be leaders on this issue,” Board Vice President Flores Aguilar stated.
The board has also directed Superintendent David L. Brewer III to compile a list of existing schools that may pose a health risk due to their proximity to major emission sources. In addition, the Superintendent must develop a plan to reduce exposure for schools that may be at high risk of air pollution, including the identification of public and private funding sources for school site modifications that may be needed, such as improved filtration of indoor air.
▲4LAKid's 10¢ worth: The San Fernando Valley Business Journal points out "
"The board’s action goes beyond state guidelines and expands the current air quality screening scope from a quarter-mile to a half-mile. The new mandate for air quality analysis will also extend beyond freeways to include oil refineries and rail yards."
I applaud the Board of Education's initiative but worry about the ramifications and unintended consequences of this action. LAUSD's past construction failures are plagued with horror stories of unintended consequences that bit us all - school district, taxpayers, parents and ultimately students - in the proverbial posterior.
As Fred Rogers would've asked: "Can you say
In LAUSD's multi-billion dollar building program the biggest challenge has been and continues to be obtaining land in significant quantity in the areas it is needed to build the schools that are sorely needed. There simply is not enough land where we need it to build the schools we need.
Many compromises have been made in this effort. Waivers from the Ed Code requirements about how much land is needed are routinely obtained as new schools build UP (multi stories) and DOWN (underground parking lots). New LAUSD schools average about 35% of the footprint of Ed Code requirements -- written for suburban and rural school districts.
Similarly waivers have been granted to LAUSD by the Office of the State Architect and the State Allocations Board after exhaustive studies and mitigation plans for locating schools closer than 500 feet from freeways.
- These waivers are legal - in conformity with what your article calls "certain exceptions".
- Previous Boards of Education have all approved applying for the waivers.
- The waiver applications and mitigation plans have been prepared by nationally recognized authorities on indoor and outdoor air quality and pollution control — these are not corner cutting or cost saving measures driven by builders, politicos or bean counters.
Repeating your article: "The board’s action goes beyond state guidelines and expands the current (500 foot) air quality screening scope from a quarter-mile to a half-mile." In creating a higher standard LAUSD risks state funding that matches construction costs up to 50%. At the risk of sounding like the bean counters I have just denigrated I worry that this unilateral action risks the state match greatly needed to complete the voter-approved/taxpayer funded mission of placing every student in LAUSD in a quality school in his or her neighborhood; off the bus and on a traditional two semester calendar by 2012.
However where we build schools is the tip of the iceberg; the real issue is where current schools actually are.
- My daughter attended
in the Walter Reed Middle School San Fernando Valley. Reed is next to the Ventura Freeway - which was built and then periodically made larger AFTER the school was built.
- The gymnasium at
in Westwood and buildings at University High School in Burbank Middle School were built atop earthquake faults that were discovered well after they were built. Highland Park
- Building codes change all the time. The 2002 Green Oaks Act which requires state of the art fire safety systems in all new and renovated schools - prompted by a near disastrous school fire - was not made retroactive to existing schools.
There is no state mandate - let alone funding - to correct these situations.
Are students who attend Reed, Uni,
So, why I applaud the Board of Education for putting the health and safety of children first I think the proper venue for this action is in the legislature - and I will stand shoulder to shoulder with the board members, educators, parents and students from up and down the state - and hopefully the San Fernando Valley Business Community - to address this need.
There is historical and legal precedent here. The Field Act -