The tennis court renovation project at Laguna Beach High School is moving along, after district board members Tuesday approved a design architect.

The Laguna Beach Unified School District board voted 4 to 0, with Betsy Jenkins absent, to award $69,000 to Irvine-based LPA Inc. to create design plans for five of the six courts across Park Avenue from the high school, according to Victoria Webber, Supt. Sherine Smith's interim executive assistant.

LPA will also write construction specifications for the district to use when it solicits bids for a contractor to do the work, district facilities director Ted Doughty said.

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Board members voted 5 to 0 at their Aug. 27 meeting to solicit architectural design bids to renovate five of the six courts with post-tension slabs, in which steel cables within a concrete slab are pulled to a certain degree to help prevent cracking.

The total project is estimated to cost $620,000, with the city paying 70% and the district picking up the remaining 30%.

This funding ratio applies to the $69,000 for LPA, with the district paying $20,700, or 30%, Doughty said.

LPA specializes in athletic facility and recreation projects for public agencies and has done work at all four Laguna Beach Unified schools in the past 15 years, according to its Sept. 30 proposal.

The company has completed dozens of tennis court projects using post-tension, including converting three courts at Corona del Mar High School, the proposal said.

A panel composed of Doughty, Laguna Beach High athletic director Mike Churchill, city recreation supervisor Tom Toman and Laguna Beach resident and former UC Irvine athletic director Ray Thornton interviewed three firms, including LPA, on Oct. 4. The panel recommended the firm because it was "the most responsive and responsible" company, according to a district staff report.

LPA officials hope to have designs and a proposed budget ready for the Nov. 12 school board meeting, according to a preliminary schedule.

The goal is to begin advertising for construction bids in April, start construction in late May and complete the project Aug. 29, in time for the high school girls' tennis season.

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E-cigs included in tobacco-free policy

The school board also voted 4 to 0 to amend the district's tobacco-free policy to include electronic cigarettes, Webber wrote in an email.

Laguna Beach Unified's recommendation aligns with the state's health and safety code, which requires districts that receive Tobacco-Use Prevention Education funds to adopt a tobacco-free schools policy that prohibits tobacco use anytime or anywhere in district-owned buildings, on district property and in district vehicles, a staff report said.

Prohibited items include any product containing tobacco or nicotine, including but not limited to cigarettes, cigars, miniature cigars, smokeless tobacco, snuff, chew, clove cigarettes, betel and nicotine-delivery devices such as e-cigarettes, the report said.

E-cigarettes emit a smokeless vapor, but it's unclear whether secondhand vapor is a health hazard.

Smith credited Laguna Beach High Principal Joanne Culverhouse for encouraging the district to include e-cigarettes in its tobacco-free policy in advance of any further findings on the devices' possible effect on public health.

"[Culverhouse] was concerned kids were smoking other contraband, such as marijuana," Smith said.

Culverhouse could not be reached for comment Wednesday afternoon.

The amended policy is not official until the board approves it on a second reading at a future meeting, board clerk Jan Vickers said.

The prohibition applies to all employees, students and visitors at any school-sponsored instruction program, activity or athletic event held on or off district property, according to the report.

Selling or furnishing an e-cigarette to a minor is illegal under California law.