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District makes mandated facilities repairs

O.C. Department of Education had identified five Newport-Mesa elementary schools in need of various work.

December 13, 2013|By Hannah Fry

The Newport-Mesa Unified School District has made the numerous repairs identified by the Orange County Department of Education in September, the board of trustees acknowledged this week.

A report from the department outlined 40 problems at five elementary schools in Costa Mesa, including broken sinks, drinking fountains and playground equipment, as well as loose televisions in classrooms.

Each year, the Department of Education conducts site visits at Orange County's lower-achieving schools to ensure that there are adequate books and teachers for students and that facilities are in good condition.

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These visits are mandated by the Williams Settlement legislation agreement, which was enacted in 2000 after nearly 100 San Francisco County students filed suit against California and education agencies alleging they failed to provide public school students with equal access to instructional materials, safe school facilities and qualified teachers, said Tim Marsh, administrative director of facilities support services for Newport-Mesa.

Visits in September were made to Newport-Mesa's College Park, Davis Magnet, Pomona, Rea, Whittier and Wilson elementary schools, which were selected based on the 2010 Academic Performance Index scores.

The county targeted College Park, Pomona, Rea, Wilson and Whittier for repairs.

Newport-Mesa has sufficient textbooks and instructional materials, according to the report issued by the county.

The district has completed all the identified work, Marsh said.

"Sometimes these are things that we already know about and have work orders in for by the time they visit the sites," he said.

Whittier Elementary required 11 repairs, including televisions not being securely bolted in classrooms and damage to floors, doors and drinking fountains.

Wilson Elementary required eight repairs, including a broken toilet, water fountains and faucets and exposed electrical wires on a furnace. It also had to deal with a gas odor coming from the furnace.

College Park Elementary required 12 repairs to sinks, drinking fountains, toilets and a restroom hand dryer.

Rea and Pomona elementary schools required six and three repairs, respectively, on items like drinking fountains, doors and playground equipment.

Marsh explained that with only two plumbers working at the district, it often takes time to handle every repair requested by school sites.

"We have 10,000 water fountains, faucets and toilets. We respond to them as quickly as we can, but as the way schools function, we can only react to them so quickly," he said.

The district spends 4% of its budget each year on facilities maintenance. Despite budget cuts in the past several years, Newport-Mesa hasn't reduced the percentage of money allocated to improving facilities, he said.

"The district has remained committed to keeping up facilities," he said.

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