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LAUSD responds to questions of quake risk to schools

A student on his way to school walks past a Los Angeles Unified School District bus.
A student on his way to school walks past a Los Angeles Unified School District bus.
Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images

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Los Angeles Unified School District officials responded Thursday to a new list of vulnerable concrete buildings on campuses with a recap of its multi-million dollar seismic safety repair program and reassurances to parents.

A group of UC Berkeley researchers had turned over to the City of Los Angeles an inventory of buildings constructed before 1976 of what's known as non-ductile concrete. Those are buildings that may be too brittle and have too little steel reinforcing to withstand the shaking of a major earthquake.

Of the school district's approximately 13,000 buildings, it deemed 667 to need some form of seismic safety evaluation and possible repairs.

Those at the greatest risk of collapse in an earthquake are those built of concrete slabs that are poured flat, then tilted up and attached to other walls and the roof.

LAUSD had 19 such buildings on its campuses, according to its own decade-old inventory, and 17  have already been retrofitted or replaced, Facilities Services Division chief executive Mark Hovatter told the district's School Construction Bond Oversight Committee. The remaining two buildings are next in line for repairs and still in use by children.

"All of our buildings exceed, in all likelihood, the house that they live in, the movie theater where they send their kids to, the mall that they shop in," Hovatter said.

Seven other buildings that are considered in critical need of seismic upgrades are also used daily by students, and all are slated for design work and eventual repairs.

A district spokeswoman said it will take two months to compare the Berkeley researchers' list of suspect concrete buildings with the district's own data on what's been retrofitted.

In all, about 60 buildings have been upgraded so far, but hundreds more buildings are in the design and funding pipeline for retrofitting.

Search for your school on LAUSD's School Modernization website.

The district's Facilities Services Division posts school-by-school details of planned and past repair projects online, but Hovatter says that website does not display seismic risks at schools.

"We don't publish the details of the analysis and geo-check because it's confusing to people and people will overreact and get frustrated," he said.

Last summer, the district approved $153 million for seismic safety projects, including those at Crenshaw, Venice and Monroe high schools, and several middle and elementary schools.

LAUSD Report: Seismically Sound School Buildings