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Malibu Middle School building gets demolished

A trackhoe breaks down the structure that was Malibu Middle School’s Building E on Wednesday, July 5. The building, which was determined to have polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), will be replaced by a structure made of shipping containers. Photos by Barbara Burke/22nd Century Media
Malibu Middle School’s Building E is demolished.
Barbara Burke, Freelance Reporter
3:26 pm PDT July 10, 2017

Spectators gathered Wednesday, July 5, to watch the demolition of Malibu Middle School Building E.

“My classroom just disappeared,” said Brigette Leonard, who has taught sixth grade at Malibu Middle School for 17 years as she watched a large trackhoe take down the building to make way for a replacement. 

For Leonard, the demolition was a reminder and an affirmation that Building E’s polychlorinated biphenyls were no longer a concern.

“I cannot put into words all the emotions I’m going through right now as that classroom has been my home for so many years,” Leonard said. “But, it has been a major problem for me, parents, other teachers and students as well. I was one of the teachers with thyroid cancer. It is nice to see the district’s admission of guilt about that as evidenced by this demolition today.”

It takes a remarkably short amount of time to demolish a structure. The large-mouthed trackhoe cut into the one-story building incisively. Parts of the building creaked and swayed. The sounds of metal being crunched permeated the air.  

A small crowd of onlookers gasped as huge portions of the roof and walls were efficiently captured by the trackhoe and deposited into a large refuse container.  

“It only takes one day to knock it down, but it took about one month to conduct abatement of asbestos and PCBs. Those are all gone now,” said Dominic Citro, safety officer on the project. 

Carey Upton, director of maintenance, operations, transportation and facilities departments, said construction is on schedule.

“As part of the original project, we were going to renovate and modernize the building,” Upton explained. “However, as we calculated PCB and other remediation costs, with the consultation of parents and others on an advisory committee, we decided to destroy the structure and construct a modular system made out of shipping containers. 

“The new structure will be two stories and will include 12 classrooms,” he continued. “Our goal is to have this building ready for the Fall of 2018 or January of 2019, depending on construction. The new building will be more modern and will match the other buildings and will be more green.”

Caren Leib, chairwoman of the Financial Advisory Committee that recommended the demolition of the building, was on hand to witness the event.

“I’m overcome with joy,” Leib said. “Miracles do happen. They were going to paint the windows, doors and floors, but the committee recommended that they demolish the building. We conducted a study and proved that it was possible to use shipping containers which are very green and to replace the building.”

The demolition of the old building and replacement with the new structure is funded by $77 million in taxpayer-approved bond money. 

The process of the old giving way to the new often can be difficult and challenging. However, as all attendees witnessed the demolition, to a person, they agreed that it was good for Malibu’s children.  

“I went to this school in middle school,” Leonard said. “I still teach here. This is a very happy day.”