By Thomas Himes, Los Angeles Daily News | http://bit.ly/1NBlADT
3/08/15, 3:35 PM PDT :: Neighbors of a closed elementary school want to stop plans by El Camino Real Charter High School to reopen the campus as a site for troubled high school students.
While the Los Angeles Unified school board has yet to schedule a vote on the plans to open an alternative high school, neighbors of Platt Ranch Elementary will appear at Tuesday’s board meeting to voice their grievances during public comments and present a petition signed by about 300 people.
<<Plans to open Platt Ranch Elementary School after being closed for decades are opposed by neighbors who say traffic and other concerns would make life difficult March 4, 2015.(Andy Holzman/Los Angeles Daily News)
The 7.75-acre campus in Woodland Hills wasn’t built to accommodate 500 high school students, said Carl Jacobs, a member of the Platt Ranch Neighborhood Coalition.
“El Camino is a good school, people move into this neighborhood to have their kids go there, and we have no argument with that,” Jacobs said. “But we have an argument with putting 500 high school students at a small elementary school.”
The campus, which has been closed for more than three decades, was designed for youngsters who live within walking distance, Jacobs said. Opening a high school for 500 teenagers, he said, would exacerbate traffic conditions that are currently a “nightmare” when the school day at nearby El Camino Real Charter High, a campus of 3,754 students, starts and ends.
“We already work our schedules around when school is starting and stopping,” Jacobs said.
El Camino Real High board member Jackie Keene said the school will try to address the concerns of community members as it works through the planning process. A meeting with community members has been scheduled for April 15 at 7 p.m. at El Camino Real Charter High.
“We want to enter a dialogue to hear what they have to say and create a refined proposal that incorporates their feedback,” Keene said.
If need be, school leadership is willing to build parking spaces at Platt Ranch, Keene said.
As for traffic, El Camino Real Charter High will need to address those concerns before LAUSD staff makes a recommendation for a school board vote on the occupancy plans, LAUSD Facilities Development Manager Issan Dahdul said.
The build-up to a vote started about a year ago when the school board made El Camino its preferred tenant to reopen three campuses in the area that have been closed for several decades.
In addition to Platt Ranch, El Camino also plans to take over Oso Avenue Elementary and Highlander Elementary. But school district officials aren’t worried about making money from a potential agreement to lease the schools, Dahdul said.
“Our interest is in making the sites available and making them operable campuses,” Dahdul said. “That would be our main priority.”
Part of El Camino’s community outreach effort at Platt Ranch, Keene said, is teaching people about alternative education. They’re not bad kids, but rather pupils who haven’t excelled in a traditional learning environment, Keene said. Some are taking online courses or enrolled in independent study, she said. The earliest the school would open is August 2016.
“It’s kind of a smaller, more focused learning environment,” Keene said.
A few of the proposals under consideration call for building an outdoor learning environment and sustainable farm at Platt Ranch.
Jacobs, however, questions whether segregating the students serves their best interests.
“The whole idea of continuation students is that they are able to mainstream them,” Jacobs said. “Moving them to a separate campus doesn’t make any sense.”
There simply isn’t a proven demographic need for the schools – the neighbors described above are simply not having enough children and they are not selling their homes to people who are! Charter operators have not expressed an interest in the properties – nor have private and or parochial schools.
Just thinkin’: Maybe the feds could use the schools as reception centers for unaccompanied immigrant children?
Tell me the truth: Is this the first time you ever heard of Platt Ranch?
I have a feeling that is the District sold the schools to a developer who wanted to build affordable housing that wouldn’t go over well in the community …and where would the resulting children go to school?
The District has forced a couple of chrome plating shops and battery re-conditioners to relocate …but I doubt if the citizenry of Platt Ranch would be receptive of them either.
Maybe Platt Ranch could be like Harris Ranch half-way up I5? A big feed lot with a nice restaurant with one hell-of-an-air-conditioning unit and some of the freshest beef you’ll ever eat!
ALL SERIOUSNESS ASIDE: This is all very reminiscent of my misspent life in the sixties, when one person’s “influx of young people” was the next man’s “ invasion of hippies!”