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Our Times / Orange County Communities | COVERING NORTH
COAST, CENTRAL, AND NORTHWEST CITIES : SANTA ANA

Schools Want Buildings, Not Portables

August 22, 2000|ALEX KATZ | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

The Santa Ana Unified School District board will review a plan tonight to replace hundreds of portable classrooms throughout the city with multistory permanent buildings.

About 900 portable classrooms are in use at schools throughout the city, school board President John Palacio said.

The bungalow-like classrooms house students in what has become one of the most crowded school districts in the state, district officials said.

Santa Ana Unified has about twice as many students in portable classrooms as Tustin Unified has students, officials said. And the number of students at Irvine Unified roughly equals the number of students in portables in Santa Ana Unified.

But at many schools, the portables occupy space on playgrounds or parking lots.

Also, most of the portables are leased, Palacio said.

The school district plans to use the $3 million or more spent each year on leasing portable classrooms to build two- to three-story permanent buildings.

Under the plan, Saddleback High School's 51 portable classrooms could be replaced by 17 three-story school buildings, Palacio said.

The plan "allows us to regain the use of our parking lots and our playgrounds and maximize the use of our property," he said.

The school district could build classrooms with similar designs at every school, customizing buildings to match the designs of campuses and neighborhoods.

The school board tonight will review plans for the first few planned permanent buildings.

Palacio said he hopes the school district can begin work at four or five schools this academic year.

"Depending on where the board is [tonight], this is something that can be done very quickly, maybe within the next six months," Palacio said.

The school board will meet at 7 p.m. at school district headquarters, 1601 E. Chestnut Ave.

Alex Katz can be reached at (714) 966-5977.

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