Tuesday, June 17, 2008

San Pedro’s Marine Magnet Likely to Become the New Angel’s Gate High School – a Move That Ensures a School No Larger Than 800 Seats and Reduces Traffic Through Busing; LAUSD School Board Expected to Approve Measure Tuesday & School Officials Add a Major Bit of Enticement – the Possibility of Reopening Gaffey Street Pool
By Diana L. Chapman

In a move that might dull sharp and sometimes brutal protests against building a larger campus at Angel’s Gate, Los Angeles school officials have opted to propose an expansion of San Pedro High School’s Marine Magnet at the seaside site instead.
The proposal reduces the site from the initial 1,200 class seats to no more than 800 seats and the expansion in the early stages would not exceed 500 seats.
According to school officials, San Pedro residents would have first rights to use the school.
Such a move will likely decrease some of the hostile and often ugly protest tactics that have ranged from calling the bid “a land grab,” despite the district owning the property for decades, to shoring up a plethora of reasons not to have a school there – including it causing more noise at the tranquil site and the potential damage to fox habitats.
Should the school board approve the reduction from 1,200 seats to 800 at its meeting Tuesday, any changes to school size later would require additional amendments and another run through a chain of procedures.
School officials lined up several enticements for the new proposal – promising a drop in potential traffic woes and the consideration of reopening of a public pool.
The most promising proposal that may send residents gushing toward accepting the marine magnet expansion was the announcement that Los Angeles School Board Member Richard Vladovic and his staff have hammered out a proposed, but tentative agreement to partner with the city to reopen the beloved Gaffey Street Pool -- although funding has not yet been secured.
For years, residents have desired the pool –now considered a historic landmark—to reopen despite the millions it’s expected to cost. City officials have stated in the past that the geology of the hillside has been questionable and the pool has slowly slipped slightly down the hillside and into disrepair.
"Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa is on board," regarding the partnership, said
said David Kooper, Vladovic’s chief of staff, whose proposal is likely to hook scores of residents. Many have grown increasingly nostalgic over the pool embedded in a hillside at Angel's Gate, surrounded by trees and swirling ocean mists that despite the closure-- clings to many local's memories.
Besides seeking funding for such a project, the school officials need to study the site to see if its even feasible and another partner to actually run the pool, Kooper said.
If the magnet approval passes, then school and city officials would likely build a competitive sized pool at the site that could be used by the public -- and finally give the San Pedro High School swim team its first chance to compete at home.
San Pedro High currently has no pool forcing its swim team often to workout at other locations and to compete in other jurisdictions.
Should the Gaffey Street Pool not work out, school officials would search for another pool site, Kooper said.
Another issue expected to entice residents stems from transportation. A magnet allows for students outside a two mile radius of a school to be shuttled to and from the site via school buses. That would eliminate a large percentage of traffic, once predicted to drench the area with honking cars and traffic jams.
Under the marine magnet expansion, the campus would then become a satellite or “annex” to San Pedro High School and that school’s principal, Bob DiPietro, would oversee both sites, said Linda Del Cueto, the superintendent who heads District Eight, the region that includes San Pedro.l
Many questions remain about the exact substance of classes the school will offer, but clearly the primary goal of school officials remains building four labs and 30 classrooms at the site to help reduce overcrowding at San Pedro High School.
The high school has about 3,400 students on a campus designed for about 2,000. Marine magnet students, which currently comprises about 379 students, still would use the main campus to take the necessary classes for college and to be included in any sports teams. The use of the magnet program also ensures that students outside the two mile radius can be shuttled via buses to the site.
Such a school would not be built until 2012. As for the additional seats, the district might consider at a later date placing a smaller learning community there, such as a maratime studies school. But nothing has been determined yet.
While much remains to hash out, it’s possible the offer will quell some of the intense opposition the district has faced in the past. The plan more than likely will scuttle attempts to pull those residents sitting on the fence into the opposition. Many, who see the school as a viable possibility, have said they are afraid to speak out due to the intense criticism the district has received over its initial proposal to build a stand-alone 9-12th grade campus not connected to the high school.
Even frequent critics of building at the site saw potential with what came out of Tuesday’s meeting, pulled together by Del Cueto.
June Burlingame Smith, president of the Coastal Neighborhood Council, which voted to oppose the building of a larger campus at the site, believed the offer was a “win-win” with the pool. She did warn, however, that school officials should cap the school at 500 seats and be realistic about parking. Offering only 2.5 spaces per classroom just isn’t enough, she argued.
However, the coastal president did seem eager to look at compromises, because in her history of living here it was always known that the district wanted to build a high school at the site.
Doug Epperhart, also on the council, and Aaron Bruhnke, a San Pedro High school teacher and UTLA representative, both raised the concern that such a school could become an “elitist” campus.
“That’s what it will be,” said Epperhart, who also wants to reach some type of compromise with the district, but could not make the meeting.
Surrounding neighbors of the middle to upper class enclave will do everything necessary to make sure their children attend that school, he said, and that likely will lock out students from the economically-disadvantaged areas of the community.
Bruhnke also seemed concerned with the same issue and recommended that students allowed to enjoy the marine magnet sign a contract so if they are not taking the opportunity seriously that other students be allowed to step into the slot.

1 comment:

M Richards said...


"A San Pedro School for San Pedro kids" is what Dr. Richard Vladovic, the LAUSD school board member for this area has been tauting since he entered office and became interested in South Region High School #15 (SRHS15).

Dr. Vladovic also repeatedly stated that he wanted only a school with no more than 810-seats at 'Angel's Gate'.

Roderick Hamiliton, of the Facilities Division repeatedly stated that SRHS 15 would be originally built as an 810-seat campus, then grow in time to 1,205-seats.

The Draft Environmental Impact Report for the purposed 1,205-seat high school is not even published yet, and there is a call to change the number of seats at the campus.

Have people forgotten that up to 13,000 school students would be attending overnight programs at the redeveloped Point Fermin Outdoor Education Center, located directly next to the purposed campus' site?

Don't folks remember that if Angel's Gate Continue High School vacates the land, all the other programs at that facility, including Mommy and Me classes would also have to vacate?

Can't people understand that if any new high school campus is built on the purposed site, valuable, irreplaceable, historic, and rare structures, important to all of the United States as it remembers WWI would be lost forever?

Can't you all see it is all a trick?

If LAUSD only truly needs 810 additional high school seats to ease "over crowding" at San Pedro High School, then surely any campus that will have THREE operational gymnasiums, should be able to provide space for just those extra 810-seats!

If LAUSD could keep its word on number of seats on high school campuses, then a new high school in San Pedro would have been built decades ago!

The new 810-seat scheme is simply a trick to try and gain support in a community that should see the trick for what it is.

We must not diminish the programs and educational experiences for the 13,000 students that would utilize the Point Fermin Outdoor Educational Center yearly.

We need to understand that the Gaffey Street Pool is owned by the L.A. City Department of Parks and Recreation, not LAUSD.

We need to be reminded of LAUSD's struggles with their budget and how they seem to not be able to learn from prior mistakes.

If only "810-seats" are needed, then it would serve the taxpayers better to NOT build a whole new campus at Angel's Gate.

If only "810-seats" are needed, then there are other places in San Pedro where a new campus could be built.

Supporters of SRHS 15 have stated that if all the land at Angel's Gate is not used for a new LAUSD campus, a Charter School group could sweep up the land. What happened to that issue?

There really is no compromise, in my opinion, when a campus directly next to an Outdoor Education Center is considered. There are no schools directly next to the other two LAUSD Outdoor Educational Centers, why should there be one directly next to the one Outdoor Educational Center that could probably become the jewel in the crown of LAUSD?

Is the ANY guarantee that once the "810-seat" SRHS 15 campus is built, LAUSD won't come along in a few years time and state they need more seats at Angel's Gate.

It's a trick. It's a rouse. It's LAUSD.

If we can't trust them by supporting a 1,205-seat campus at Angel's Gate, why oh why should we trust them with an "810-seat facility, there?

Is 405-seats worth all that?