January 29, 2001 Vol. V, No. 9

Academy High School Proposal with LAUSD Moves Forward

CSU Board of Trustees and L.A. Board of Education Committee Endorse the Project

The proposal for Cal State Northridge to host a Los Angeles Unified School District academy high school, focusing on preparing local students for college and future teaching careers, is moving forward after winning important endorsements this month.

The joint CSUN-LAUSD project won conceptual approval from the Board of Trustees of the California State University system on Wednesday, January 24. The next day, the Facilities Committee of the Los Angeles Board of Education recommended the project to its full board.

"The action before you today is the first of many steps that will culminate in the building of an academy high school," CSUN President Jolene Koester told the CSU trustees. The president called the project an important part of CSUN's commitment to preparing new teachers.

The twin endorsements, in essence, mean the academy high school project can proceed to a required environmental review that will be conducted by LAUSD later this year. CSUN and LAUSD officials also will continue refining how the two entities will partner through the school.

As proposed, CSUN would permit LAUSD to build the 100,000 square-foot project on the university's five-acre Zelzah Court property along Zelzah Avenue north of CSUN's tennis courts. In exchange, LAUSD would give CSUN the eight-acre former Prairie Street School site that the university plans to use for expanded parking.

But in a broader context, the high school project also has several unique features. It would be the first new LAUSD high school built in the San Fernando Valley in about 30 years, and would be the first LAUSD high school located on a university campus.

Because the academy high school would have a major focus on preparing high school students interested in teaching careers, the project would further CSUN's and the CSU's commitment to teacher preparation at a time when California is woefully short of qualified teachers.

The project also would provide unique opportunities for collaboration with CSUN's College of Education, which already at the university level prepares more teacher credential candidates than any other public institution in California. The high school could become in effect a "lab school" for CSUN.

The current LAUSD schedule calls for the high school to begin construction in 2002 and be completed by 2004. Plans call for a year-round school with a maximum 1,200-student total enrollment, with 800 students in classes at any one time. The high school would be fully enclosed and student and employee parking would be provided entirely on-site.

The university and the LAUSD in December concluded a community advisory committee process that recommended a concept design for the project (as shown in the accompanying illustration). One main feature involves a loop road around the site to take school traffic off Zelzah Avenue.

LAUSD officials prefer the Zelzah Court site, because it will permit the high school to share use of adjoining CSUN athletic fields. The university, meanwhile, is looking to expand its current parking use of the Prairie Street site. The old LAUSD elementary school was closed in the 1980s due to lack of enrollment, and is no longer needed by the district.

As planned, the new high school at CSUN would accept students, via an application process, from surrounding LAUSD high schools that are already overcrowded such as Monroe, Granada Hills and Cleveland. Students also would need a minimum grade point average in order to enroll.

@csun | January 29, 2001 issue
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