February 29, 2024 Breaking News, Latest News, and Videos

Ceiling Repair at Will Rogers Learning Community May Result in Student Relocation

Work would not begin until after 2025, according to SMMUSD officials

The Santa Monica Malibu Unified School District says the ceiling at Will Rogers Learning Community is in need of repair, which could result in students being relocated while the work is being done.

According to SMMUSD Chief Operations Officer Carey Upton speaking at a February 16 board meeting, the glue used to secure ceiling tiles at the school has begun to fail over the years, resulting in the tiles falling. The tiles are difficult to reattach and added that the glue is from the 1950s and contains asbestos.

While Upton clarified that asbestos poses no immediate danger unless it becomes airborne, he emphasized that there is a real challenge with it. At some point, SMMUSD will have to take everything off the ceilings, abate them and replace them.

“You cannot breathe it unless literally somebody took a hammer and smashed it and made it airborne, so it’s not dangerous or an exposure,” Upton said during the meeting. 

However, this process will take longer than the 10 weeks of summer vacation offers. As a result, students will have to be relocated while work is being done. Work is not expected to begin until after 2025 when John Muir Elementary/Santa Monica Alternative School House (SMASH) campus is scheduled to reopen and a new building at Will Rogers will be completed that could temporarily offer space for displaced students.

According to SMMUSD, across the district, there is between $6-7 million dollars of critical roof reports needed but only $2 million is budgeted for that work. This would be the latest such instance of displacement for SMMUSD students.

Last year almost 150 John Muir Elementary/SMASH students were transferred to Will Rogers after extensive water issues were uncovered on their campus. Repairs to their campus are expected to cost almost $20 million and will keep students relocated until January 2025 at the earliest. In total, this school closure forced over 250 students to various schools within the SMMUSD school district.

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