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Hart district to lease portable buildings

26 to be added to 56 on hand

Posted: May 13, 2008 2:14 a.m.
Updated: July 14, 2008 5:01 a.m.
Despite having around 56 extra portables of its own, most of which are stored on lots near the district office, the Hart district will shell out nearly $400,000 to lease 26 portable buildings for the modernization of Hart High School and Placerita and Sierra Vista junior highs.

The William S. Hart Union High School District governing board voted to approve the lease agreement Wednesday after being informed by district Chief Financial Officer Rob Gapper that it would actually be more costly to repair, move and install the existing buildings than to lease the new ones.

"It would cost $20,000 per portable to use our own," Gapper said. "So it's cheaper to lease the buildings than to use our own."

Despite this explanation from Gapper and Modernization Director Paul Rivas, board members remained incredulous that a district flush with portable buildings - 245 total - would need to lease more.

"With all the portables we've got sitting all over the place, why do we need these?" asked Board Member Steve Sturgeon.

Rivas told the board members that, in addition to the added cost of using the district's portables, using them would also involve getting approval from the Division of State Architects (DSA), which would delay the start of the modernization projects and would involve more fees. While the leased buildings are considered "temporary," the portables owned by the district are considered "permanent" and must meet more stringent DSA requirements, Rivas said.

"The DSA typically takes a very hard stance in these situations," Rivas said.

Board member Dennis King described the situation as "ludicrous."

"We should be able to use the portables that we have," King said. "I just can't believe there's not some way to cut through this bureaucracy."

After discussing the portables and coming up with no alternate solution, the board voted to approve the lease of 10 portable classroom buildings for Hart High School, five for Placerita Junior High and 11 for Sierra Vista Junior High, at a cost of $390,416, with some money coming from the Measure V Bond Fund and some from the State Modernization Fund.

The new portables are being leased from Class Leasing, Inc., and will be used to house classes and other school facilities while permanent classrooms are being modernized. The portables for Hart High School will be on a two-year lease, while the junior high portables will be on a one-year lease.

Most of the surplus portables were purchased when the state decided to get out of the portable classroom leasing business, telling districts to either return the portables in like-new condition or purchase them for $4,000. Restoring the buildings to like-new condition would have cost about $10,000 for each portable, according to Gapper.

"So our board opted to purchase them," Gapper said.

The district recently began attempting to sell its surplus portables through online auction, and has met with some success.

"We are releasing small lots at a time, and were successful in selling all five of the portables we had at auction last week," district spokeswoman Pat Willett said. "Another seven will be offered this week. We also sold some to the county for the Santa Clarita Valley homeless shelter."

Gapper told the board that the hope is to find people to purchase the old portables.

"We're slowly getting rid of them," he said.


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