Frequently Asked Questions

    What is the Facility Improvement Projects (FIP) Office?
    The FIP Office provides construction and program management services for the SMMUSD facility improvement capital programs. We are responsible for managing the modernization and construction projects at our district campuses. Please see our About page for additional details.

    How can I get more involved with construction at SMMUSD?
    Our Measure ES Advisory Committee (ESAC) meetings are open to the public and give the community the opportunity to hear construction progress and provide public comment. For a calendar of meeting dates and more information about the ESAC, please click here.

    Prospective contractors should visit this page.

    What is asphalt?
    Asphalt, also known as black top, is a black liquid or semi-solid form of petroleum. Asphalt is used as the glue or binder that is mixed with crushed rock to create asphalt concrete. It is used to build streets and even playgrounds.

    What effects would an asphalt pour have on a school?
    Asphalt is a very commonly-used construction material, but it will generate a slight odor. Closing your windows during the duration of the work will reduce the odor.

    What causes the odor?
    Some of the compounds in asphalt fumes (e.g., sulfur and petroleum crude oil) have low odor thresholds. Fumes can be generated when asphalt is heated to a sufficiently high temperature. The odor that is emitted from the asphalt smells a lot like hot oil due to the nature of the mixture.

    Will my health be at risk if the construction team is pouring asphalt?
    Health risks are not a concern given the short-term and lack of direct exposure to the asphalt. The smell may be unpleasant for those in the proximity of a hot asphalt pour, however, smelling the odors of the asphalt do not indicate a harmful exposure or cause any adverse side effects.

    Who can I contact for more information?
    For further information, please contact the Facility Improvement Projects Office at 310-450-8330 x 79380.

    How will dust be mitigated?
    Contractors will keep all unpaved demo and construction areas sufficiently wet to control dust. In some instances, the contractor has saved potable water by using rainwater to keep the site wet!

    What if there are high winds?
    Clearing, earth moving, and excavation will be discontinued during periods of high winds.

    How will diesel emissions from construction equipment be mitigated?
    Contractors will maintain and operate equipment to minimize exhaust emissions. For example, a “no diesel equipment zone” was put into place at Edison Language Academy near the temporary turf play yard to mitigate diesel emissions while students are in the play yard. Additionally, school site administration is notified if any diesel equipment is on site.

    Additionally, all companies are required to comply with California Air Resources Board (ARB) regulations, which include no idling for more than five (5) minutes when equipment is not in use.

    What is asbestos?
    Asbestos is a fibrous variety of six naturally occurring minerals that have been used in commercial products. Asbestos minerals come from metamorphic rocks and are made up of long, thin, fibrous bundles. Asbestos minerals have physical properties that made them useful in many commercial products including, high tensile strength, flexibility, resistance to heat and chemicals, high electrical resistance, and the capability to be woven like fabric.

    How is asbestos used?
    It has been estimated that asbestos was once used in more than 3,000 different products. Asbestos can be found in vinyl flooring, patching compounds and textured paints, sprayed acoustic ceilings, acoustic ceiling tiles, stove insulation, wall and ceiling insulation, roofing shingles and siding, fire-retardant clothing, and cement pipe.

    Will my health be harmed by asbestos?
    You will not be harmed by touching asbestos or being near materials that contain it. Asbestos will not cause health problems unless products containing asbestos are disturbed and microscopic, lightweight asbestos fibers are released into the air.

    Why do we need to remove asbestos?
    The Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) asbestos program and regulations for schools, which is mandated by the Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act (AHERA), is founded on the principle of "in-place" management of asbestos-containing material (ACM). This approach is designed to prevent asbestos exposure by teaching people to recognize asbestos-containing materials and actively monitor and manage them in place. Removal of ACM is not usually necessary unless the material is severely damaged or will be disturbed by a building demolition or renovation project.

    The district has protected students and staff from asbestos exposure through the principals of containment within our AHERA plan. As a part of new construction and modernization, some existing campuses will have asbestos removed. This removal will be done in compliance with EPA regulations so as to prevent any harmful exposure to asbestos fibers.

    An air quality post-remediation testing report, which will be available to the public, will be performed prior to re-occupancy. Under standard Maintenance and Operations procedures, the District will continue to investigate year by year for asbestos under AHERA protocol to ensure that students and staff are not exposed to harmful levels of asbestos fiber.

    How will the public be protected during this abatement work? Will it be dangerous?
    Temporary fencing will be erected and trained personnel will regulate the work area. No untrained personnel will be allowed access. Personnel working on site will be mandated to follow detailed requirements and comply with laws, ordinances, rules, and regulations of federal, state, regional, and local authorities and publications regarding handling, storing, transporting, and disposing of asbestos waste materials. This work does not pose any danger. The abatement work will be inspected and monitored during the entire period of activity.

    Will the air be affected during the abatement work?
    No, it will not. All work will be monitored and air testing will be conducted per regulations during the removal and cleaning operations.

    How do we know the asbestos is gone? Does someone test the air after abatement work?
    Yes, the EPA has strict guidelines for testing the area and the air after abatement work is complete. Only qualified individuals may conduct the visual inspection and air testing.

    Will we see workers in full protective body suits?
    During the process of abatement and removal of asbestos and lead-containing materials, you will see trained personnel in full body coveralls and other personal protection equipment, which is required by law for such activity.

    Where will the hazardous materials be disposed? Will it affect our environment?
    Asbestos and lead-containing waste materials will be packed into approved, sealed, and labeled protective packaging. These will then be disposed at a pre-designated hazardous waste disposal facility in accordance with the guidelines of the EPA.
    Source: United States Environmental Protection Agency

    This information is related to soil remediation testing that occurred at Malibu High School in summer 2011. However, the information is general to any soil remediation, should it occur on any SMMUSD site.

    1. Why was the site tested?
      An environmental assessment, including the identification of potential carcinogens in the soil, is done anytime a new building project is being planned for a public school facility. The assessment researches the history of the site and then identifies what tests need to be done and the locations that teat samples will be taken.

    2. How are the test results evaluated?
      A Human Health Screening Evaluation is completed in accordance with the guidelines established by the Department of Toxic Substance Control. The screening uses a mathematical formula to establish a health risk factor for the potential carcinogens found on the site. The risk factor is based on a 24 hour per day exposure over a period of 30 years by a combination of inhalation, ingestion, and skin contact.

    3. Why did we need to remove soil at Malibu HS?
      The soil tests done for the site assessment found polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) in several areas and Aroclor 1254, a pesticide, in one other area on the site. The Human Health Screening Evaluation determined that the presence of these chemicals creates a risk factor that exceeds the maximum established for school sites.

    4. If the soils are affected why were they not removed immediately? Did they pose a health danger?
      The affected soils did not pose a health risk prior to their removal as long as they remained undisturbed.

    5. How much soil was removed?
      An estimated 1,017 cubic yards of soil was removed.

    6. Where were the affected soils disposed?
      The soils were disposed at one of several of the approved disposal facilities in accordance with the guidelines of the EPA. Disposal facilities that are frequently used for this type of disposal are located in Kettleman Hills, Buttonwillow or Adelanto, California.

    7. Did the affected soils pollute the environment while they were being transported to the disposal facility?
      No. Contractors were required to utilize trailers with plastic liners for wet, nonhazardous soil and all hazardous soil. All trailers were covered with tight.

    8. How did you confirm that the soils removal was done safely and the soils are disposed safely?
      Environmental engineers monitored and inspected the work on site. Air testing was also conducted during the duration of the soil removal.

    9. What happened if it was a windy day?
      All soil excavation activities would have been suspended if winds exceeded 25 miles per hour.

    10. Did you remove any trees?
      No, but there were some shrubs in planters that were removed. In some cases they were replaced, in others they were not replaced because they were to be removed as part of the upcoming campus improvement project.

    11. Was there a lot of noise?
      There was some equipment noise, which at times would be enough to impact the use of the rooms immediately adjacent to the removal areas. However, the work did not impact the use of buildings not adjacent to the excavation. Since the removal areas were in an interior portion of the campus, there was little noise experienced by the occupants of adjacent properties. Contractors also followed the city ordinances for construction noise.

    12. Was there a lot of dust during demolition?
      No. There was constant dust monitoring during all excavation and loading operations. Stored soil was covered with plastic sheeting until removed from the site.

    13. When was the work completed?
      The work was completed over the 2011 summer break and took approximately 6 weeks to complete.

    14. Who can I call if I have questions?
      You can contact the Facility Improvement Projects Office at 310-450-8338>

    Where can I find information about the ongoing Sustainability efforts throughout the construction and modernization?
    Please visit our Sustainability page.

    What safety measures are used on the construction site?
    All construction zones are surrounded by safety fencing. There is no student or staff access to any construction site except during educational activities or staff site visits, at which point they will be accompanied by a construction manager and given proper safety equipment.

    What safety features are being implemented in the new modernization and construction?
    A new safety fence has been installed at SMASH/Muir, which allows staff to control access to campus at the main office. Fire alarm upgrades are being installed at Malibu High School, John Adams Middle School, Lincoln Middle School, Santa Monica High School, and Olympic High School.

    Why was a campus-wide tree study completed?
    A campus-wide tree study was completed to survey and create and inventory of trees at each school where Measure ES construction will occur.

    How is the tree retention process decided?
    A certified consulting arborist with 25 years of experience in tree biology conducted a detailed tree report on each campus that will undergo construction or modernization projects. The arborist made recommendations based on the condition of each tree. The District reviews the recommendations and assesses the condition of each tree to decide whether the tree will be preserved. The District is in the process of establishing a “jewel tree” list based upon the information received from the arborist.

    What factors are considered when addressing tree retention?
    Several factors are taken into consideration when deciding which trees to retain, including, physical and structural condition, trunk diameter, expected remaining lifespan, construction impact and whether or not it is suitable for preservation. Rare species, trees that are flourishing in the current landscape and trees in excellent condition will be retained or relocated during the construction process.

    How do trees become damaged?
    Many times trees have undergone root loss due to vandalism or root cutting.

    How are trees maintained and cared for during the construction process?
    The retained trees will be monitored throughout the duration of construction. A Tree Protection Zone Plan has been implemented, which includes measures for mulching, trench digging, general care and protective fencing around the limits of the tree. No digging, trenching, or other soil disturbances are allowed in the fenced area. Both the aboveground portion of the tree and the root system are protected.

    Will new trees be planted once construction is complete?
    We are committed to preserving as many trees as possible throughout the construction and modernization process. In addition to trees that are being preserved and/or relocated, a large variety of new landscaping will occur on campuses during the last phases of construction. The District is committed to increasing the amount of trees on campus as part of the Measure ES construction projects.

    What is the amount of trees that will increase on campus?
    The amount of trees will be increased on campuses throughout the District. The average increase of new trees planted will be approximately 20%!

    Why may some trees need to be removed from SMMUSD campuses?
    Some tree species are not ideal for school landscape, are in poor health or in rapid decline, are growing too close together, have undergone damage or vandalism or are simply not flourishing in the landscape.

    Where can I find more information about the trees on SMMUSD campuses?
    You can contact us at 310-450-8330 x 79380

    Whom do I contact for more information?
    For media inquiries, please contact
    For all other inquiries, please email or call 310-450-8338 x70380