May 15, 2000 Vol. IV, No. 16

New LAUSD Academy High School Proposed for Zelzah Court

CSUN to Get Prairie Street Site in Exchange, Gain Hundreds of New Parking Spaces

The Los Angeles Unified School District would build its first new high school in the San Fernando Valley in nearly 30 years at Cal State Northridge, under a plan to explore creating a specialized, small "academy" school for local students headed for college and careers.

LAUSD officials said they will recommend the undeveloped Zelzah Court site on the east side of the CSUN campus for the proposed school, which would serve about 800 ninth through twelfth graders with a special emphasis on teaching careers. To obtain that site, the LAUSD would deed to CSUN the district's former Prairie Street school site located nearby.

The project would be unique in several ways. As the only LAUSD high school to be located on a university campus, the proposal would give the school and its students access to CSUN university facilities such as the campus library as well as science and language labs.

For CSUN, gaining control of the Prairie Street school site located about a half mile south along Zelzah Avenue would mean a gain of hundreds of much-needed parking spaces in a busy, expanding campus area. CSUN already is leasing part of the site from the LAUSD for parking.

CSUN Interim President Louanne Kennedy called the school proposal an important and exciting opportunity for the university. "An important part of our university mandate is to help improve K-12 education and forge strategic partnerships. This project will benefit the community as a whole and put more deserving students on track toward college education."

The district developed the proposal in consultation with CSUN officials. District officials plan to seek approval from the Board of Education's Facilities Committee on Thursday, May 25, to begin formal study of the project. Ultimately, the project also would require approvals from the Cal State system's Board of Trustees, the state Legislature and the LAUSD Board of Education.

Having a small high school on the Cal State Northridge campus would bring university and secondary educators closer together in efforts to improve educational quality, both for the academy's students and CSUN's own large teacher training program. CSUN already educates more candidates for teacher credentials than any other public university in the state.

"A teacher training academy has been my vision since I was first elected 13 years ago," said LAUSD board member Julie Korenstein. "The opportunity to build an educational partnership with CSUN and create a unique campus to encourage students to dedicate their lives to teaching is a milestone."

Students for the proposed new high school would come from the attendance zones of Monroe High School in North Hills and Granada Hills High School, both located near the university. Monroe, for example, has more than 4,000 students and is expected to increase its enrollment in the years ahead.

The proposed LAUSD academy at CSUN would be fenced to enhance security and would include 250 to 350 on-site parking spaces to accommodate both school staff and students with cars. The project would be funded out of district and state school bond revenues.

District and CSUN officials said the property exchange would be a good deal for both sides. For the LAUSD, the Zelzah Court site would include access to various university facilities, including adjoining CSUN athletic fields. That would eliminate the LAUSD's need to acquire significant additional acreage normally required for a new high school.

May 15, 2000

Return to the top of the page