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Measure A work a fine present for the holidays

December 22, 2002

It has taken a while -- 2 1/2 years, to be exact -- but the

promised improvements for Newport-Mesa schools paid for by Measure A

are finally about to begin.

In February, six elementary schools and two high schools will be

part of the first phase of construction work that, over the next five

years, will include 28 schools in four separate stages, district

officials said this month.

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Among the improvements planned, and much needed, are seismic

upgrades, painting, stucco repair, door replacement, electrical

upgrades and repairing the ceilings in all classrooms.

The work will be paid for, of course, by the $110-million bond that voters passed in 2000. Added to that sum will be state

proposition money, more of which will come Newport-Mesa's way if

voters approve another bond in 2004. The estimated cost of all the

repairs is $173.3 million.

During the Measure A campaign, school officials argued strongly

for why the district's campuses needed such expensive work. They also

smartly included much resident oversight of the project in their

plans, which certainly helped gain the overwhelming support the bond

received.

That oversight also has played a role in the slow build-up to next

year's work. Given the breadth of the project, and the care that it

has needed, the delay has been frustrating, perhaps, but not

disturbing. From the early days of the Measure A campaign, school

officials always were careful and precise in the steps they took.

What would have been troubling was an overly quick end to the

discussions about how the money should be spent. Parents had learned

to expect more.

Still, 2 1/2 years seems sufficient time to have worked out

exactly what improvements are needed at which schools. It is time to

turn the words, and money, into action.

For parents and students who have been waiting for the work to

begin, the district's announcement amounts to a fine holiday present.

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