Construction Begins on First of 18 New Schools

Times Staff Writer

The Los Angeles Unified School District broke ground this week for the first of 18 new schools planned to relieve chronic overcrowding.

Construction of the South Gate elementary school at 10018 Montara Ave.--the first to be built by the district since 1971--will kick off a lengthy round of school construction and refurbishment projects first proposed four years ago.

The $10.5-million school, scheduled for a June, 1989, opening, marks an “important beginning in our efforts to build new schools,” district spokesman Marty Estrin said.

The district has received approval from the state for $265 million to build the 18 schools in Bell, South Gate, Huntington Park and Los Angeles. The district also will receive $111 million for expansion of 32 existing schools, Estrin said. Most of the schools will be built with money from a state school bond measure passed by voters in 1982.


The district has a “critical need for space,” said Andrew Cazares, assistant superintendent of Region B, which covers Southeast area cities. “The Southeast area has been impacted for many years. Now the rest of Los Angeles is starting to feel the pinch.”

Increasing Enrollment

Enrollment in the district has been steadily climbing since 1980 and is expected to surpass 650,000 by 1990 from this year’s enrollment of 590,000. While the district has implemented interim measures, such as placing some schools on year-round schedules, it remains committed to building new schools as a long-term solution, Estrin said.

The new South Gate campus will enroll slightly more than 800 students, drawing mainly from Stanford Avenue School, he said. That school was originally built for 1,480 but now houses about 2,200 students.


De Whayne Gallups, principal of Stanford Elementary, said educators are looking forward to the new school since it would take about one-third of Stanford’s population. But even so, Stanford will “still be at the point of capacity,” he said.

Morever, Gallups said, he suspects that more space might be needed by the time the school--and others planned nearby--are built. The “schools, when they are built, will not relieve overcrowding,” Gallups predicted.

More Schools to Be Sought

Estrin said the projects--expected to provide new classrooms for 24,000 students--are only “a partial resolution for classroom needs.”