High School Conservatory Plan Gets State Grant

Times Staff Writer

El Camino College’s South Bay Center for the Arts and a consortium of six South Bay school districts have been awarded a $125,000 state grant to establish a High School Conservatory for the visual and performing arts, officials announced Friday.

College spokeswoman Mary Ann Keating said this is less than the $300,000 the consortium applied for, but officials nevertheless are pleased because $125,000 was the maximum amount given any proposal statewide.

She said the money will be used to hire a principal and secretary for the first year and to help set up the program, which would offer specialized art classes to high school students in six South Bay districts. Classes would not start until the fall of 1990, she said.

Meanwhile, a proposal for a math and science high school at Cal State Dominguez Hills was not among the 12 projects funded in the 1988-89 state budget, according to Cathy Barkett of the state Department of Education.


The program at Dominguez Hills, co-sponsored by the Long Beach Unified School District, will be a strong candidate for next year’s grant funds once the state’s 1989-90 budget is approved, she said.

Barkett said that 42 school districts statewide competed for $2.1 million in specialized secondary education grant funds in this year’s budget and that it is “very likely” an equal amount will be available for the next fiscal year, starting July 1, she said.

Philip Westin, El Camino College’s dean of fine arts and executive director of its South Bay Center for the Arts, said Friday, “We are excited about receiving the funds.” The statewide competition was “extremely tough, not only in the quantity of applicants, but the quality,” Westin said.

Within hours of receiving the news Friday from Barkett, Westin notified the superintendents of the six participating districts: Centinela Valley Union High School District, South Bay Union High School District, and El Segundo, Inglewood, Palos Verdes Peninsula and Torrance unified school districts.


They are expected to meet next week to formally accept the grant, and to start working out how the districts can give additional funds and services to help create the arts conservatory.

Located at El Camino

The conservatory would be located at El Camino College. Participating students from the six school districts would attend their home high school, and take advanced visual and performing arts classes at the conservatory, according to the formal grant proposal.

About 500 to 550 students are expected to participate, Westin said.

In an interview Friday afternoon, Barkett said state officials “hope to offer Dominguez Hills a $125,000 planning grant (in the next fiscal year), contingent upon there being enough funds in the 1989-90 budget.”

Sam Wiley, the dean of science, math and technology at Dominguez Hills, said Friday, “We are hopeful of getting support.” The math and science magnet school would draw students from all over the Los Angeles basin, he said.