The AJC has quite a story about the new $578 million public school complex opening next month in LA.
When schools are cutting days and teachers, this seems a terrible moment to unveil an architectural wonder of a campus. Yes, I think children deserve to learn in comfortable settings, although I don’t know of any research that shows kids learn more in so-called “state-of-the art” classrooms. The more important investment to me would be “state-of-the art” teachers.
Keep in mind that this is a k-12 setting that will house 4,200 students. There are three schools – elementary, middle and high school — located on the single campus. But even then, you are still talking nearly $200 million per age group. I also don’t like the large size of the complex; I would rather drop my kids off to a smaller-scaled school building.
The complex is being built on a piece of infamous LA history. It is on the site of the former Ambassador Hotel, where Robert F. Kennedy was assassinated in 1968. It includes fine art murals and a marble memorial depicting the complex’s namesake, a manicured public park, a state-of-the-art swimming pool and preservation of pieces of the original hotel.
Anyone a fan of the school campuses as sprawling mini metropolises? On the college tours with my older two, I preferred the quaint campuses where everything was built around a few greens/quads rather than the bigger spreads where you needed a map to plot your course and a a motor scooter to get there.
According to the AJC story, opinions are divided on the wisdom of erecting such a monument amid the bleakest economic situation facing schools in the last 40 years.
Here is an excerpt from the story:
There’s no more of the old, windowless cinderblock schools of the ’70s where kids felt, ‘Oh, back to jail,’” said Joe Agron, editor-in-chief of American School & University, a school construction journal. “Districts want a showpiece for the community, a really impressive environment for learning.”
Not everyone is similarly enthusiastic.
“New buildings are nice, but when they’re run by the same people who’ve given us a 50 percent dropout rate, they’re a big waste of taxpayer money,” said Ben Austin, executive director of Parent Revolution who sits on the California Board of Education. “Parents aren’t fooled.”
At RFK, the features include fine art murals and a marble memorial depicting the complex’s namesake, a manicured public park, a state-of-the-art swimming pool and preservation of pieces of the original hotel.
Partly by circumstance and partly by design, the Los Angeles Unified School District has emerged as the mogul of Taj Mahals.
The RFK complex follows on the heels of two other LA schools among the nation’s costliest — the $377 million Edward R. Roybal Learning Center, which opened in 2008, and the $232 million Visual and Performing Arts High School that debuted in 2009.