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Cost of Building Los Amigos Park School

April 01, 1993

In your interview with Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District Supt. Dr. Neil Schmidt (Times, March 14), he was asked about the school board's controversial decision to replace two existing Ocean Park schools (SMASH and Muir) with a new school to be constructed on Los Amigos Park using bond funds.

Although it was refreshing to hear an SMMUSD representative finally admit that the district may have been less than candid with voters in regard to disclosing their plans to use millions of dollars of "reconstruction" money on "new" construction, it was distressing to have the superintendent go on to say he approved of a considerable outlay of these monies ($1.6 million), representing the cost differential between building the new school at Los Amigos and "reconstructing" the existing facilities--as is being done to all the other district school plants.

Schmidt's reasoning for this expenditure was that it is more cost-effective to spend the money now on a new facility, rather than have to lay out as much or more later to rehabilitate the two existing schools.

With all due respect, Schmidt and the school board are in serious need of a course in elementary logic, if not simple arithmetic. I say this because the school board's own staff has advised them the district is currently running $9 million to $10 million behind.

To deal with this deficit, the board has chosen to go forward with the "cost-effective" Los Amigos school while at the same time cutting back on plans to make the much needed improvements to school auditoriums, gyms, parking lots, pools and playgrounds throughout the district.

Spending money now to save money later may be a good idea if the district had the money to spend. It doesn't. Consequently the long-promised "reconstruction" of our district schools may likely go unfinished.

Let's hope Schmidt and the SMMUSD school board can do a better job of managing public resources in the future--because this decision rates an F.

JOHN BODIN

Santa Monica

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