By a wide margin, voters approved a referendum on Thursday that allows the Long Beach school district to cover the costs associated with the reconstruction of an area of Long Beach High School, following the collapse of a carport ceiling in April.
On Oct.18, by a vote of 336-97, voters passed a capital reserve referendum to allow the Board of Education to allocate $5.6 million from the district’s capital reserve fund, which is approximately $7 million.
The work, which is expected to be completed before the winter, includes the demolition and reconstruction of the carport ceiling. The funds also cover general construction and electrical, mechanical and plumbing work in areas in the immediate vicinity, including the high school’s main entrance, the lobby, the gym entrance the boy’s and girl’s locker rooms.
On April 6, a section of ceiling at the eastern end of the high school’s ground-level parking lot fell to the ground. The ceiling was believed to have been installed in the early 1970s, and school officials said that the collapse was most likely related to ongoing renovations at the school — part of a district-wide, $98.9 million school preservation plan approved by voters in 2009 to address the district’s aging infrastructure.
To repair the damage, the school board opted to use money in its capital reserve fund. School officials said that the fund is similar to a savings account and provides the district with the ability to set aside monies to fund capital improvements and emergencies. Since those funds have already been set aside for capital projects, the work will not result in a tax increase.
However, voter approval was required to allow the use of such funding, and in August, the board approved the Oct. 18 date for a referendum.
“Following a comprehensive review of Long Beach High School after the April ceiling collapse, structural engineers and the district’s architects and construction manager determined that we had to begin rebuilding the carport ceiling now to protect our mechanical, electrical and plumbing infrastructure,” Superintendent of Schools David Weiss told the Herald before the vote. “Given the fact that we have sufficient money in the capital reserve to complete this work and it will not carry an additional cost to taxpayers, we are asking for their approval to use funds from this reserve.”
Vanessa Canner contributed to this story