Los Angeles will unveil next month a new K-12 school that cost $578 million to build! The Robert F. Kennedy Community Schools is the nation’s most expensive public school ever built!
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 where RFK was shot.
“The K-12 complex to house 4,200 students has raised eyebrows across the country as the creme de la creme of “Taj Mahal” schools, $100 million-plus campuses boasting both architectural panache and deluxe amenities.”
” ‘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….’ ”
“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….”
“The pricey schools have come during a sensitive period for the nation’s second-largest school system: Nearly 3,000 teachers have been laid off over the past two years, the academic year and programs have been slashed. The district also faces a $640 million shortfall and some schools persistently rank among the nation’s lowest performing.”
“Los Angeles is not alone, however, in building big. Some of the most expensive schools are found in low-performing districts — New York City has a $235 million campus; New Brunswick, N.J., opened a $185 million high school in January.”
“Nationwide, dozens of schools have surpassed $100 million with amenities including atriums, orchestra-pit auditoriums, food courts, even bamboo nooks. The extravagance has led some to wonder where the line should be drawn and whether more money should be spent on teachers.”
OK parents and teachers, what do you think: Will fantastic facilities help our children learn more and compete on a worldwide level? Would that money be better invested in teachers than facilities? Is there a difference between investing in a beautiful building and technologies such as smart boards, lap tops, advanced science equipment? Where are our tax dollar best spent to help our children learn the most they can?
We also need to discuss the fact that this one school will house 4,200 students. I’m sure the halls will be broken down by grade but that seems very intimidating to children. Could that possibly be a manageable facility? How much parking could they need for curriculum night?