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Simi Valley Left Out in Cold by Quake : Construction: Struggle over relief funds could leave repair of damaged gymnasium more than a year away.

July 16, 1994|TRACY WILSON | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Simi Valley High's earthquake-damaged gymnasium may not be repaired until 1996 because of an ongoing struggle among school, state and federal officials over disaster relief funds, officials said Friday.

The gym and multipurpose room suffered major structural damage in the Jan. 17 quake and are expected to cost about $1.7 million to repair.

Although the Simi Valley Unified School District in February was given $10,000 in disaster aid for architectural and engineering costs associated with the gym's repair, subsequent requests for funding to repair structural damage have been denied by the Federal Emergency Management Agency and state Office of Emergency Services, district officials said.

"We did not realize the demands" of the applications, said Roger Grady, director of planning and building for the district. Grady said the setback means the gym probably won't be repaired until 1996.

Federal and state officials have rejected two applications for funding because the district failed to provide enough documentation on its forms, Grady said. FEMA and state officials could not be reached for comment Friday.

"We're on the third (application) and hopefully it will address the points in the right manner," Grady said.

The district is still awaiting approval for funds to construct a temporary gym. But Grady said that even if the district received the money today, it would take about 90 days to erect a temporary structure.

Students returning to school in the fall could be without a gym until December at the earliest, Grady said. Physical education classes probably will be forced to use outdoor fields and blacktop surfaces until a facility can be erected.

Simi Valley Athletic Director George Ragsdale spent Friday sending letters to area churches and public parks inquiring about the availability of their gyms.

"We kind of knew we would not have the gym ready but we thought we would have a portable gym," Ragsdale said. "Now we're keeping our fingers crossed that we get that at the start of the new year."

Staff writer Irene Garcia contributed to this story.

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