By Alfredo Santana
LYNWOOD — School district administrators and potential bidders hoping to construct a new multi-classroom building at Lynwood High School met Jan. 31 to get acquainted and discuss the work needed to reopen the school again.
Dozens of contracting companies gathered on Jan. 31 at the Imperial Highway campus to learn that a series of infrastructural issues, from crumbling stucco at various facilities to air ducts retained with chicken wire deemed most of the facilities unsafe, in addition to the abrupt collapse of ceilings at the G-building more than 30 months ago.
On June 2020, a series of heavy aluminum and cement planks in the building’s first floor suddenly detached, smashing two parked cars but causing no injuries due to the high school’s closure following state and county COVID-19 protocols.
After a series of studies conducted by engineering firms, the three-story building was declared risky, and the school district chose to tear it down and seek funds to rebuild it anew.
However, the school district ran into financial trouble when its leaders realized that they were unable to raise $33 million the state’s Division of Architect required them to contribute to erect the new facility.
District administrators lobbied state legislators for help, and invited Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon and state Sen. Lena Gonzales to witness the building’s malfunctioning structure in their plight to get a financial allocation to cover the entire rebuilding costs.
The state’s Department of Education announced last July that it would contribute $250 million to demolish and rebuild a new multi-level classroom and labs facility, and use remaining funds to revamp defective structures.
Lynwood Superintendent of Schools Gudiel Crosthwaite said in a statement that the conference, the first official event following the allocation of funds, shows the district’s commitment to make Lynwood High School operational again.
“We are extremely excited to be moving forward with this project, and will continue to provide the school community with regular updates,” Crosthwaite said.
Representatives from at least 12 contracting companies toured the campus, and listened to Mark Graham, an architect from the firm PBK Architect Design, speak about plans to hire a firm that carries out the school’s project.
Blair Landry, a public relations associate with VMA Communications, said that about 30 people attended the event.
As it stands, the reconstruction project will kick off with the G-building’s demolition to make room for the new three-story facility. Blueprints for the new building call for 70 classrooms, a culinary arts center and science, technology, engineering and math labs.
Demolishing the G-building had been estimated to cost $5 million before inflation currently gauged at 6.5% caused spikes in gasoline and diesel prices, and forced many employers to increase wages to hire and retain construction workers.
Tearing down the condemned facility is estimated to start on June 15.
Another job part of the engineering package is to reconfigure the sports fields the school district said ran parallel to the G-building.
However, no reconstruction is planned before the area receives infrastructural upgrades that include rerouting of sewage lines, renewing fire safety pipelines and removing and replenishing soil.
According to district officials, the entire project may take between three to four years to complete.
Patrick Gittisriboongul, assistant superintendent of technology and innovation with Lynwood Unified School District, said the timeline was estimated based on five construction components laid out by the PBK Architect Design, the firm hired to draw the plans.
Among the components are demolition, soil removal and replenishment and classroom rebuilding.
Gittisriboongul said that the district’s Board of Education will vet the contractors’ applications to find out if they have the equipment, staff and technology to conduct both the tear down and reconstruction, or different companies will have to do the jobs.
“[The board] will have to look at all requirements, engineering reviews, etc., to understand all that,” Gittisriboongul said.
The Board of Education tweeted on Feb. 5 that its five members held a study session to discuss “strategic planning updates” and next steps for the Lynwood High reconstruction project.
Bidders are expected to submit their construction proposals no later than Feb. 14, followed by the district’s initial interviews on Feb. 28.
The district hopes to select a contractor at the board of education meeting March 9.