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Portable Classrooms Hasten Students' Return After Quake

Classes resumed late last month at two San Fernando Valley high schools that were severely damaged in the Jan. 17 earthquake that rocked the Los Angeles area.

John F. Kennedy High in Granada Hills and El Camino Real High in Woodland Hills had been scheduled to reopen this week, but the state of California sent additional portable classrooms and workers to install them to help get students back in school. Ninety portable classrooms will accommodate more than 5,000 students at the two schools. (See Education Week, Feb. 2, 1994.)

The only school in the Los Angeles Unified School District to remain closed because of the quake is Van Gogh Elementary, also in Granada Hills. A geological study is being conducted to determine whether the ground beneath the school is stable enough to allow its buildings to be repaired.

The earthquake, which measured 6.6 on the Richter scale, forced the district to cancel classes for six days. Half of the district's 640 schools were damaged by the temblor, which hit hardest in the Northridge area.

When classes resumed on Jan. 25, 76 schools in the district remained closed, and officials hoped that all but the most severely damaged schools would be open by early last month.

Meanwhile, citing the financial burden the quake has placed on school workers, the district has accelerated its repayment schedule for salary cuts made two years ago.

A payment of 0.5 percent, which had been scheduled for June 15, was moved up to last month.

During a 1991-92 budget crisis, L.A.U.S.D. salaries were cut by 3 percent. At that time, the district agreed to repay that amount, including interest, over several years.

The district repaid 0.5 percent of the salary cut during the 1992-93 school year and plans to continue to disburse the remaining 2 percent based on the previously negotiated schedule.

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