Santa Monica-Malibu District Opens $5-Million Campus

Santa Monica school officials are celebrating the opening of a $5-million campus housing two elementary schools.

The campus is home to the first new campuses in the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District in nearly 30 years, said Art Cohen, a district assistant superintendent. Money from a voter-approved $75-million bond to renovate the district's schools paid for the project.

"It looks wonderful," said Cohen of the campus on Ocean Park Boulevard, just blocks from the beach. "The project was very heavily community-driven and planned."

John Muir Elementary School students began classes Monday in a two-story gray building with coral trim. But students of the second school--the Santa Monica Alternative School House--will not relocate to the campus until construction is finished on their school building in 10 weeks.

Some construction of common areas such as the cafeteria and playground are not finished, leaving Muir students to eat lunch in classrooms. Cohen said the district was forced to move the Muir students to the unfinished campus because two other district programs were scheduled to use the school's old campus.

The school district's continuation high school and adult education center are now housed at Muir's former site on Lincoln Boulevard.

Cohen said the school district decided to build two schools because it cost less money than to repair the older elementary schools.

The campuses are built on land shared with Los Amigos Park, which is being upgraded and will be used as the children's playground during school hours, Cohen said. The park will be open to the public in the afternoon.

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