California State University, Northridge

From the President's Desk



May 11, 2000

LAUSD Academy High School on Campus;
Acquisition of Prairie Street Site

Seeking to further strengthen our ties and commitment to K-12 education, California State University, Northridge is joining with the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) to explore the district building a small, specialized "academy" high school on our Zelzah Court property. For the community, the project would be the first new LAUSD high school built in the San Fernando Valley in nearly 30 years. For CSUN, the academic focus of the school would closely match the university's own academic strengths, creating exciting opportunities for seamless high school-to-university transitions for students. And the school district, in exchange, would provide to CSUN the former Prairie Street School property that we have long sought. This important package, while not without some risk, clearly holds so much opportunity for the university and our broader community that it deserves our serious consideration.

Based on internal discussions with the academic and facilities areas of the university, we will be working with the school district to explore the LAUSD building a high school on the five-acre Zelzah Court site that would accommodate about 800 ninth through twelfth graders at a time. That property, now undeveloped, is located along the west side of Zelzah Avenue just south of the University Park Apartments. The proposed school would be enclosed for security and be a low-rise development with 32 classrooms and its own parking on-site. Most of the students would come locally from Monroe High School in North Hills, which already is overcrowded and faces mounting enrollment demands. To enrich the academic experience of the academy school students, they would have access to some university facilities such as the Oviatt Library and certain laboratories. But construction and operation of the new high school would be the sole financial obligation and responsibility of the school district--not the university.

In return, the school district would transfer to the university full ownership of the 8.5-acre former Prairie Street School site located about a half mile south along Zelzah just north of Nordhoff Street. Acquiring this property will achieve a longstanding campus goal, help round out the perimeter of the campus core, and provide land for hundreds of much-needed new parking spaces for students and others. In particular, extra parking here will help facilitate the growing role of Monterey Hall as a community services center and benefit the University Club. CSUN already is leasing part of the Prairie Street site from the LAUSD for parking, but would gain full and permanent control of the property through the exchange.

The exploratory process formally launched today by the university and the school district has several upcoming decision points. On Thursday, May 25, in downtown Los Angeles, LAUSD officials are planning to present the project concept to the Facilities Committee of the district's Board of Education. If the project receives approval there and subsequently from the full Board of Education at a meeting tentatively set for Tuesday, June 27, the school district as lead agency for the project would commence a one-to-two year process of environmental and other reviews, including consultation with local community groups and members. Final approvals to build the school would be required from the California State University system's Board of Trustees, the state Legislature and the LAUSD's Board of Education.

For Cal State Northridge, in addition to the benefit of acquiring the Prairie Street site, establishing an LAUSD academy high school on campus would fulfill several important strategic objectives of both the university and the Cal State system. At its broadest, the project would become an important alliance between the university and the school district, a key member of our external community.

Preparing students for teaching careers would be a major, broad focus of the proposed high school. Our partnership with LAUSD would highlight the campus'and CSU system's major commitments to expanding the state's supply of highly trained school teachers. CSUN already educates more teacher credential candidates than any other public university in the state. So for our own teacher preparation faculty and students seeking credentials, the academy high school also would be an on-site "lab school," providing promising opportunities for collaboration.

In addition, the academy would demonstrate the campus' and the system's commitment to improving the college preparedness of secondary school students. The enrollment capacity of the proposed academy would be about one-fourth that found in some traditional LAUSD high schools, creating a better opportunity for a quality learning experience. And the curriculum of the high school would be clearly focused on preparing students for university studies--at CSUN or elsewhere. Alongside the teacher training emphasis mentioned above, the LAUSD has agreed the school also would focus in areas such as arts, media and communication; health and human services; and modern languages--matching some of CSUN's own strengths. Through this type of curriculum, students will be prepared for careers in teaching or those varied disciplines.

The potential future for this project, an exciting one for CSUN and the community, is this: Each year, several hundred San Fernando Valley high school seniors will graduate with a strong college preparatory education. These students will be familiar with the resources and environment of a university, and will be fully prepared to succeed in higher education and their future careers. If Cal State Northridge and the LAUSD together can make this vision a reality, then we truly will have created a brighter future for both our young people and our community as a whole.

New Campus Website to Launch

I am pleased to announce that on May 15, the university will launch the redesigned university website. The redesign was developed by the new Web Page Editorial Board, chaired by Vice President for University Relations Bill Outhouse. Members of the board include faculty, staff and administrators representing the major divisions and Information Technology Resources.

While the board's initial charge was to redesign the central front pages of the present campus website in consultation with the wider campus community, its longterm goals included: providing ongoing management for the central pages of the site and guidance for the campus webmaster; encouraging other campus pages to follow the existing university policies and guidelines pertaining to web pages; and eventually developing web tools for use by departments and other units to use in their own web pages to encourage a stronger Internet identity for the university as a whole.

The redesign builds on a content redesign that was presented to the campus last year. The site includes a new graphic design for the front pages and incorporates comments that were received in response to the earlier version. This process included consultation with other areas of the campus and students. The board also worked with disabled students to ensure the new site was compliant and accessible under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The website has been presented to various campus groups, including the President's Cabinet, and received positive responses.

The goal of the redesign is to give the website a stronger graphic identity and to make navigation easier, particularly for specific target audiences like students, faculty and staff, alumni and members of the community. The board welcomes comments for the purpose of enhancing the effectiveness of the new site and hopes that other departments will use this redesign as an opportunity to evaluate their own web pages in the context of the way the new central front pages look and present information.

I would like to thank the editorial board for its hard work and dedication. Special thanks, also, to Mr. Outhouse for his work as board chair, Assistant Professor Ron Saito of the Art Department who provided the early concept of the web page design, and Ms. Sunita Vira, a graphic design consultant and CSUN alumna who worked closely with the board to develop the final redesign. Core support during the redesign process was also provided by Ms. Gail Said Johnson of User Support Services, Ms. Veronica Grant of University Relations and Mr. Joseph Antunez of Academic Affairs. Given the hundreds of university web pages that are now online, I recognize that it was a challenging and daunting task to present the existing pages in a whole new way and to create a stronger web identity for the university.

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