According to a flyer sent to residents who live near Palisades Charter High School, the LAUSD will soon begin to remove and replace the underground utility piping serving the entire campus and replace the heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system in the competition gymnasium.
Construction dates are December 2021 through June 2024. Work hours will be Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. and on Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. (as needed).
Although Palisades is a fiscally independent charter and controls its own budget plus academic and discipline policies, the school pays a facility fee to the Los Angeles Unified School District, which owns the land and buildings on campus.
CTN contacted Lorrie Munoz, LAUSD Community Relations and asked about the cost.
“This is a critical repair project, and it is funded through Measure Q  Bond funds,” Munoz wrote in a December 21 email, noting that the gym’s HVAC system will cost $7,353,500 and the underground boiler piping replacement will be $2,815,000. “The combined estimated total will be $10,168,500.”
We asked Munoz if construction would interfere with basketball or volleyball practices/competitions. “Our construction team is in communication with school administrators to minimize any interruption with school activities,” she replied. She recommended contacting school administrators for more detailed information and updates.
As of now, no street closures are anticipated, Munoz said.
The majority of the campus classrooms, built in 1961, still do not have air conditioning. Munoz was asked if they are to be included as part of this project. She said, “No, at this time it is just for the gym.”
When David Riccardi was hired as the PaliHi Director of Operations in 2012, he used money donated by former teacher and Citizen of the Year Rose Gilbert, now deceased, to renovate Mercer and Gilbert Hall.
Riccardi worked with vermin removal, lead and asbestos abatement and noted that HVAC duct work and air handling equipment had not been cleaned in 50 years and that A/C would be repaired for Mercer complex within two weeks.
“When I first walked into Mercer Hall, there were literally hundreds of dead rats under the stage,” he said. On his first entrance to the space, “my nose had started to run, and my eyes had started to water. It was a sick building.”
He began to uncover the causes, including not only the rats, but also some mold in the foyer and duct work that hadn’t been cleaned perhaps since 1961. Riccardi found an estimated $150,000 to clean the ducts throughout the school.
Riccardi in a 2013 report said that he was looking for “Funding options to be identified and sourced for renovation of entire gymnasium complex.”
A mere eight years later, the gymnasium project will finally begin.
Riccardi and the high school parted company in 2017.