UCLA’s prestigious Corrine A. Seeds University Elementary School, an educational research center where nearly 500 students are exposed to experimental teaching techniques, may be moved from the Westwood campus to Santa Monica.
Lewis C. Solmon, the dean of UCLA’s Graduate School of Education, said that officials from UCLA and the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District have been having preliminary discussions for months, and that details about the move and collaboration have yet to be worked out.
However, during the early stages of the talks, UCLA and Santa Monica-Malibu officials have been optimistic that the move will benefit the school district and University Elementary School (UES), which is run by the Graduate School of Education.
Solmon said one advantage of moving to the Santa Monica-Malibu district is that the research school would shed its image as an “isolated school on a university campus.”
Santa Monica is small enough for an agreement to be “workable,” he said. In addition, there is space for the school because the district suffers from declining enrollment. UCLA had considered a similar move to Bellagio Road School, a vacant site in nearby Bel-Air, but the Los Angeles Unified School District had other plans for the school.
Santa Monica-Malibu Supt. Eugene Tucker said he considered the move a chance for his district to have a “unique partnership with a program which has a long and outstanding history of providing an excellent educational opportunity for the children who go to school there.” He said it would also provide an opportunity for teachers to take part in research.
Santa Monica-Malibu school board President Peggy Lyons termed the idea “fabulous.”
“UES has a fine reputation for being a laboratory school where important research has been conducted,” she said.
School board member Della Barrett echoed Lyons’ enthusiasm. “It is strictly in the exploratory stages, but it has exciting potential,” she said.
The move in part is the result of a recent donation to the university to build the Joe E. Anderson Graduate School of Business Management on land next to University Elementary School, which is near the Sunset Boulevard entrance of the campus. The new building would force UES to relocate several small buildings.
Solmon said that there is room for University Elementary School on campus and that Chancellor Charles Young has asked that plans to redesign the current location be maintained should negotiations with the Santa Monica-Malibu district fail to produce an agreement.
Solmon said that talks with the district will focus on a number of questions, such as where to locate the new school, how a research laboratory would function in a school district and what the ethnic composition of the student body would be.
UES students are selected on the basis of ethnic origin and family income so that the student body mirrors the national census. Tuition is $1,700 per year, but scholarships are available.
Among other things, the school has experimented with open classrooms and computer instruction.
Solmon said some parents were concerned that the move would harm the quality of education.
“The parents justifiably expressed their anxiety,” he said, adding that the goals of providing educational research and excellence would be maintained.