The Los Angeles Unified School District is drafting a response to reassure parents who saw their children's schools on a newly public list of older concrete buildings that could be at risk of collapse in an earthquake. (You can view the full list of L.A. schools below.)
More than 200 of the 1,500 buildings on the list were schools, most of them public.
In 2009, the district said more than 600 buildings needed $960 million in seismic upgrades. The price tag now to make all necessary repairs is about $1 billion to $1.5 billion, said Roger Finstad, director of Maintenance and Operations.
The district has spent more than $400-million dollars on retrofits since 2003, Finstad said. A significant amount of other work remains throughout the district.
Finstad adds that district headquarters had not received any questions from parents about the schools on the list and only a few inquiries from principals. Even so, Finstad is drafting an explanation for principals to pass on to parents.
RELATED: KPCC's Earthquake Tracker
Catherine Eves, whose daughter attends Micheltorena Elementary School in Silver Lake, was among parents voicing concern. She knew the buildings at Micheltorena were old but had assumed they were safe.
"When I send my daughter to school I kind of think, well, I'm sending her to the best place," Eves told KPCC. "If there's an earthquake, the building's been around forever. They know what to do. It's better than being at home."
She was surprised to see Micheltorena on the list compiled by researchers at UC Berkeley at presented to the city of Los Angeles. KPCC obtained a copy of the list this week.
"To actually see that on a list made me scared and want to look at it deeper," Eves said.
Micheltorena's two main buildings were constructed in 1935, two years after the destructive Long Beach Earthquake prompted the passage of the state Field Act, which set stricter standards for school building construction in California.
Eves emailed the school's principal, Susanna Furfari, who said she, too, was surprised to see her school on the researchers' list.
"My first reaction was a little bit concerned, obviously because I know most of the kids are in the two buildings that are the oldest on campus that were built in the 1930s," Furfari said. "So it was a little alarming, but then in my opinion I do feel that the district does maintain its buildings to code, which is what made me feel calmer about it."
The list comes from researchers with a seismic safety project. It was released to Los Angeles officials last week.
The researchers used public records, visual inspections and other methods to create a list of buildings that appear to be made of what's known as non-ductile concrete. That's a type of construction that was common until the mid 1970s. But that type of construction was barred in 1976 because of the potential for collapse if insufficiently reinforced walls or columns broke apart during an earthquake's shaking.
The researchers who created the list say they don't know if the buildings included were ever retrofitted to add the reinforcement necessary to make them safer in an earthquake.
In spot checks of public records of the Los Angeles Unified School District, it appears that some schools that are on the researchers' list have already been retrofitted.
The district has it own list of vulnerable buildings. Under a 1999 law called AB 300, the district had to come up with the list and file it with the state.
But the district had not yet completed its own comparison of its building inventory and retrofit records with the list the researchers compiled, the LAUSD's Finstad said. A significant amount of work remains to be completed throughout the district on so-called non-ductile concrete buildings.
And some of those brittle concrete buildings still house kids, Finstad said.
"We do have two or three non-ductile concrete buildings and two or three non-ductile concrete lunch shelters. ... They are still in use," Finstad said, adding that they are not in bad enough shape to take out of use.
Schools appearing on UC Berkeley list of concrete buildings
Is your child's school on this list? What do you know about its earthquake safety? What would you like to know? Comment below, weigh in on KPCC's Facebook page, tweet us your concerns @KPCC, or become a source through the Public Insight Network.