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LAUSD: 'Our Schools Are Very Safe'

Officials were responding to criticism about the practice of taking construction bond money intended for repairs and spending them on iPads.

Bungalows at Chatsworth Park Elementary School, which have already been razed. Patch file photo.
Bungalows at Chatsworth Park Elementary School, which have already been razed. Patch file photo.

A Los Angeles Unified School District official, responding to criticism that the district should be investing in basic maintenance instead of iPads for students, said school buildings were safe, well maintained and constantly monitored.

“Our schools are very safe,” Roger Finstad, the director of maintenance and operations, told a meeting of the school board's Budget, Facilities and Audit Committee. “We're in them every day. We have people that are surveying them often. There is no question about the safety of our schools.”

Finstad briefed the committee on the district's maintenance assessment program, which is in its second phase. Nearly 60 schools, mainly older high schools, have been surveyed so far, he said.

The survey is aimed at helping the board decide which jobs to tackle first. The LAUSD's 13,527 buildings are about 50 years old on average.

LAUSD board member Steven Zimmer said survey results so far made the work sound daunting.

“When we hear some of these things and some of the things you are gathering through the survey, it is easy for the untrained eye to be very alarmed,” he said.

Steven English, a member of the district's Bond Oversight Committee, said he and board members were most interested in bottom-line figures, but Finstad said those were unavailable. Job-by-job cost estimates would be provided later, he said.

On Wednesday, LAUSD Superintendent John Deasy expressed his commitment to a $1 billion plan to give all students iPads -- an effort that has been criticized as short-sighted since the gadgets were given away at 47 schools in the fall. The district spends about $768 for each iPad it initially bought.

Proceeds from a bond sale to pay for construction projects is being used  
to buy about 67,500 iPads during phase 2 of the acquisition effort.

Part of the idea is get ready to adapt to nationwide standards known as Common Core, which calls for testing to be done on computers.

--City News Service

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