Groundbreaking participants included (from l. to r.) L.A. Deputy Mayor Barbara Sandoval, Monroe H.S. teacher and UTLA rep. Greg Solkovits, LAUSD Board Member Julie Korenstein, LAUSD Supt. Roy Romer, Board President Caprice Young, U.S. Rep. Brad Sherman, CSUN Provost Louanne Kennedy and LAUSD District A Supt. Deborah Leidner.
Cal State Northridge and Los Angeles school district officials have celebrated the groundbreaking for a new academy high school on the university's campus, a unique joint venture that will help prepare San Fernando Valley students for college and future teaching careers.
The $25 million project, due to start construction this month, will be the Los Angeles Unified School District's first new regular high school in the Valley in more than 30 years. In addition, the school will be the first LAUSD high school located on a university campus, making possible what officials called a unique opportunity for educational cooperation.
"The important partnership being forged here today between the LAUSD and CSUNčwhere we are bringing together K≠12 and higher educationčis the kind of cooperation that can truly reshape public education. We are very excited to be part of this process," said CSUN Provost Louanne Kennedy, who represented the university.
"This school is going to be nationally renowned, if not internationally renowned," added LAUSD board member Julie Korenstein, who worked with CSUN the past three years to achieve her longtime goal of developing a high school focused on encouraging future teachers. "This is absolutely a dream of mine come true," Korenstein added.
During the Wednesday, October 23 groundbreaking ceremony on the Northridge campus, Kennedy and Korenstein were joined by CSUN Faculty President Michael Neubauer, Board of Education President Caprice Young, LAUSD Superintendent Roy Romer, U.S. Rep. Brad Sherman and Los Angeles Deputy Mayor Barbara Sandoval, along with many local parents and students.
The high school, known as Valley New High School #1 until a permanent name is chosen, will accommodate about 800 ninth through twelfth graders at any one time, with a total year-round enrollment of about 1,130. The school will serve students who live nearby, helping reduce overcrowding at Monroe, Granada Hills and Cleveland high schools.
Under a CSUN-LAUSD cooperation agreement, the school's students will gain access to CSUN facilities such as the campus library, certain laboratories and physical education areas. CSUN administrators and faculty members also will work with their LAUSD counterparts to help shape the school's instructional program. Funding for the school is coming from LAUSD.
Located on a five-acre site on the east side of the university, the new high school is scheduled for completion in summer 2004. In exchange for receiving the CSUN site and the university's other contributions, LAUSD gave the university the nearby Prairie Street School parcel that already has been used to expand campus parking by hundreds of much-needed spaces.
Calling the future high school a natural fit, CSUN President Jolene Koester noted that Northridge already prepares more university students to obtain regular state teaching credentials than any other public university in California. Koester also said CSUN is committed to helping improve the public schools and strengthening the university's community connections.
Noting California's major shortage of schoolteachers, CSUN Faculty President Neubauer called the project "an example of true leadership in the public interest." "I represent the commitment the faculty members at CSUN have to this wonderful and exciting collaboration," he added. "We have great hopes for this project and are confident it will be a great success."
Although Korenstein, a CSUN alumna, helped launch the project during her time representing Northridge on the Los Angeles school board, the area recently shifted to school board President Caprice Young, who called the groundbreaking momentous. "We don't just hire teachers. Now we are in the business of growing our own," Young joked with the audience.
LAUSD Local District A Superintendent Deborah Leidner, whose Valley unit will oversee the new school, predicted the joint project will become "the envy of the nation." "We will break the mold. We will create an academy high school that will have the whole world watching, and it will begin today," Leidner said, pledging cooperation with the university.
Located on the west side of Zelzah Avenue near Halsted Street, the future LAUSD school will include 39 classrooms, a library, auditorium, gymnasium and recreation areas. The school's campus will be fenced to enhance security and will include on-site, underground parking to accommodate school staff and those high school students who drive cars.
As an academy campus, the new school will have a major focus on preparing students for teaching careers. But the school also will offer academic tracks such as media and performing arts, and health and human services in coordination with the university.
The school is part of LAUSD's district-wide effort to build 80 new schools and expand 79 existing campuses to reduce overcrowding. Twenty-five projects are planned in the San Fernando Valley in the first phase of the district's construction program. The last LAUSD regular high school built in the San Fernando Valley was John F. Kennedy High School in 1971.
CSUN Provost Louanne Kennedy is interviewed at Academy High School groundbreaking.
@csun | November 4, 2002 issue
Public Relations | University Advancement
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