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Oxnard Board to Consider Upgrade Work at 4 Schools

Education: The plan calls for renovations at the district's four oldest senior highs. Most of the $16.5 million would go toward Camarillo High.

January 16, 2002|JENIFER RAGLAND | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Oxnard Union High School District leaders tonight will consider approving $16.5 million in much-needed renovations at the district's four oldest high schools.

The out-of-date facilities--particularly at Adolfo Camarillo High School--have long been a source of contention between parents and district officials. The dissension at Camarillo was aggravated last year by the opening of the sprawling, $55-million Pacifica High School in Oxnard.

"I'm happy the board has chosen to finally pay attention to the students in Camarillo and the needs of our kids," said Debra Creadick, a parent who has pushed hard for the upgrades. "They have deserved an up-to-date facility. It's long overdue."

Modernization projects at Camarillo, Hueneme, Channel Islands and Rio Mesa high schools--totaling about $36 million--were approved in 1999, but delayed when the state ran out of school bond money that was to be used as matching funds. The district still has about $7.2 million remaining for those projects from a $57-million bond passed by Oxnard and Camarillo voters in 1998.

The rest of the money would come from various district funds and future revenue.

Problems at the four schools, which are from 36 to 46 years old, range from outdated electrical systems to bad plumbing to crumbling restrooms, said Lou Cunningham, the district's facilities director.

Under the plan before the board tonight, student and faculty restrooms at all four campuses would be gutted and rebuilt beginning this spring.

Also, at Camarillo High--the district's oldest campus--a $12.3-million repair plan would begin immediately if approved.

That plan includes new electrical, plumbing, heating and air-conditioning systems, replacement of floors, doors and windows and upgrading science labs, Cunningham said.

Most upgrades at the other three schools would be put off for at least two years. Officials are counting on state school bonds being passed in November and in 2004 and 2006 to fund those improvements, Supt. Gary Davis said.

For now, Hueneme and Channel Islands high schools would get about $210,000 each for new white boards and bulletin boards in all classrooms. At Rio Mesa, about $150,000 would fund a project to move the teachers' lounge.

"The facility environment sets the climate, and this indicates to these students we care about these schools and are trying our best to bring them up to a modern style," Davis said. But Creadick and other parents say even if the upgrades are approved, officials have a long way to go to make things equal.

The district's two newest high schools--Pacifica and $33-million Oxnard High, which opened in 1995--also have the only two performing arts centers and are "within jogging distance of each other," Creadick said.

"Every child in this district deserves to have like facilities," Creadick said. "The board needs to put together a plan so that kids at Camarillo High School and kids at Pacifica High School are getting the same thing."

FYI

Trustees for the Oxnard Union High School District meet at 5:30 p.m. today in the district office board room, 220 South K St.

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