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It's a new school year, and there are 17 new campuses, including RFK complex, L.A.'s most expensive


The most expensive campus in Los Angeles was the star opening-day attraction Monday in the nation’s second-largest school system.

Officials were ready for broadcast interviews at 5 a.m. outside the west entrance of the Robert F. Kennedy Community Schools complex, built at a cost of more than $578 million.

Some critics have assailed the cost of the school, while preservationists have faulted the Los Angeles Unified School District for preserving almost nothing of the historic Ambassador Hotel, which was the scene of Robert Kennedy's assassination.

A state-of-the-art school "is exactly what these kids deserve," said Board of Education President Monica Garcia. "This has been an amazing investment in public education."

She was speaking of both the RFK campus and a $19.5-billion school construction program. When it began, 27,000 students were being bused out of overcrowded neighborhood schools, and even more were forced to get by with shortened academic years in schools that operated year-round, she said.

The RFK campus can fill its six small schools with students from within a nine-block radius.

"All the kids are walking, walking to school," said school district spokeswoman Shannon Haber.

About 950 students must still be bused out of their neighborhoods, Garcia said.

Most schools have returned to a regular academic year, which is 17 days longer for students than the year-round format.

As of Monday, nearby Virgil and Berendo middle schools returned to the traditional calendar after more than 30 years. The full benefit will be curtailed this academic year by budget cuts, which have shortened the school year by five days, and by larger class sizes that resulted from layoffs.

Across the district, 35 schools, including many small ones, are opening on 17 different sites, and 54 existing schools are returning to a traditional schedule.

Most of the schools lack permanent names, but the exceptions include:

Barack Obama Global Preparation Academy, a middle school; the Carson-Gore Academy of Environmental Studies, an elementary school honoring environmentalist Rachel Carson and former Vice President Al Gore; Owen Lloyd Knox Elementary, named for a pioneering African American educator; Esteban E. Torres High School, named after the long-serving member of Congress; and Julie Korenstein Elementary, honoring the district's longest-serving school board member.

-- Howard Blume

Photo: Students arrive for the first day of school at the Robert F. Kennedy Community Schools complex in downtown Los Angeles. Credit: Al Seib / Los Angeles Times

Pano Panoramas from the Robert F. Kennedy Community Schools complex

Comments () | Archives (4)

We are all in big trouble. I had to read it 3 times for it to sink in. Monica Garcia, Board President of LAUSD says, this "is exactly what these kids deserve. This has been an amazing investment in public education." I am terrified to think that she actually may believe it.

It is never okay to spend $ 568 Million on a school site. It is certainly not an "investment in public education." At the end of the day, it is a simply a bunch of walls, doors, elevators, paintings, theaters, pools, gymansium, etc... When 50% of the students who enter high schools drop out, when over 309 LAUSD are designated as PI for more than 5 years, and when LAUSD is noted in the CA State's audit as having the poorest performing schools in the State. This is not an investment in education. Remember the outrageously expensive school that LAUSD built for only $232 Million? Well, the school initially failed last spring to qualify for the critical state accreditation. Only after political jockeying, did the school finally get its accreditation.

Building a school is not the answer to improving academic performance. Changing the curriculum, holding teachers/administrators accountable, and having a Board of Education that has the courage to remember it serves the students of Los Angeles, and not the unions would have been a much more meaningful step. That LAUSD spent $ 568 Million on a building is unjustifiable. The fact that Monica Garcia is boasting about it is obscene. In politics, we call this putting "lipstick on a pig."

I will take all my comments back when I hear that school districts around the world are coming to LA to see how they can duplicate the RFK site, and it becomes the standard by which all schools should be built.

What scares me is that Monica Garcia might one day say, "the RFK site is so successful, we are going to build more just like it."

Another day in which the students of this city go unheard, remain underserved, and see no signs of real change. For them, I truly feel sorry.

Shame on the Board of Education and more shame on that President of the Board, Monica Garcia. The Board members are a bunch of cowards and farsighted that allow the spending to please one of the most powerful union in the State, the teacher Union of Los Angeles, well known as UTLA.
Sooner we will see, again on the media, those UTLA leaders crying for more taxpayer’s money to maintain their TAJ MAHAL school temples at the expenses of our children education.
Both UTLA and the LAUSD think that we have forgotten the enormous fiasco and “crime” committed on the Beverly and Beaudry Site not long ago.
It is incredible the lack of character in the LAUSD board members and how the get handled by a greedy Teacher Union of Los Angeles.
so long ago.

Correction: RFK is the country's most expensive school ever.

Still too much money to spend on a school when Cali is in such crappy financial shape. i guess they can't say anything about laying off teachers if they can build a school like that


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