Weekly Update on Environmental Issues from the Superintendent: Week ending Friday, March 14, 2014
As shared in last week’s update, Environ, the environmental engineering firm selected by the District to help us ensure that our schools are safe, has been hired. I want to clarify the following points:
- Environ is currently in the process of developing a work plan which will include a timeline for its activities. As part of its work plan, Environ will be providing progress reports/updates to the District and those will be shared with the larger school community.
- As we have stated for several months, Environ’s testing plan will include soils testing at both Malibu High School and Juan Cabrillo Elementary School. Soils testing will be part of a comprehensive plan for testing along with a plan for any necessary remediation at both sites. Environ is working with both the DTSC and the EPA as it develops its comprehensive plan.
- I learned this week that Environ is seeking a brief extension of the EPA’s current March 30th deadline for the required work product. Environ wants to ensure that its work product is (a) considerate of community input and (b) comprehensive. I have conveyed the sense of urgency we have as a school district and school community to Environ staff and stressed that they must develop and make progress on implementation of the work plan as quickly as possible. I have emphasized that spring break begins very soon and the school year comes to an end on June 10, 2014, and our community is understandably anxious to see significant progress.
- Environ’s work plan includes the charge to work with the EPA in specifying the steps that must be taken to address the caulk samples that exceeded the regulatory limit.
- Environ’s work plan will also outline the necessary steps to implement the EPA’s Best Management Cleaning Practices districtwide.
- I will continue to provide updates and information about Environ’s timeline for developing its work plan, including the testing plans it is developing in collaboration with DTSC and EPA and the process for updating the Board of Education and the community.
COMMUNITY OUTREACH PLANS
- As part of its activities, Environ will conduct a community outreach process which will begin very soon. Environ is very much aware of, and committed to, a transparent process in which parent and teacher input will be solicited.
- As is the case for the development of Environ’s comprehensive testing plan, Environ’s community outreach process, is being prepared in collaboration with the Department of Toxic Substance Control (DTSC).
- In my correspondence with Environ, I am continuing to firmly express our community’s desire that the community outreach plan include face-to-face outreach to the Malibu school community, including staff, the Task Force and the larger community, in addition to mechanisms for obtaining written input from stakeholders.
- DTSC and Environ have concurred that one avenue to solicit community input will be via a dedicated email address. By early next week, Environ will have an active email address so that individuals or organizations can email Environ directly with comments and concerns about environmental conditions at Juan Cabrillo Elementary School and Malibu Middle/High School. The email address will be SMMUSDEnvironmentalInput@environcorp.com
- This link will be posted on the District’s website and should be widely shared. Environ will be providing the DTSC with all emails it receives from the community.
- DTSC and Environ will also be collaborating on a community survey, which will include staff, parents and entities within 1⁄4 mile of Juan Cabrillo Elementary School and Malibu Middle/High School.
ADVOCACY AT THE STATE LEVEL
I traveled to Sacramento yesterday to meet with leaders at the Association of California School Administrators, the California School Boards Association, the California Association of School Business Officials and the Coalition for Adequate School Housing to ask for their help. Based on our situation, my goal was to ask these organizations to address these questions: Will they take the lead on legislative change that would augment communication/notification when toxins are found at a school site? Should the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Best Management Cleaning Practices be mandated statewide? What role can/will these leaders play in assisting districts that will no doubt face the same issues we see in Malibu?
The Board of Education and I will examine the first two questions from a local policy perspective, and based on our experience, these questions are clearly applicable to our entire District, not just to Malibu. And as we face these questions in our District, there are clearly implications for all districts and the more than 6 million children and staff in California’s public schools. I wanted to open up this conversation in Sacramento because I believe these organizations need to be aware of the situation and begin providing leadership and guidance. They received my questions positively and responded positively to the call to action to be good stewards for all educators and all children. I will keep you apprised of their work.
I hope that these discussions will help build confidence in the process and greater understanding of our intention to ensure that our schools are healthy environments.