Letters to the Editor: LAUSD wants to open schools as parks. This is what it needs from the city

Students play on the playground at Hamlin Charter Academy in West Hills on May 3, 2021.
(Myung J. Chun / Los Angeles Times)
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To the editor: I wholeheartedly agree with Abby Austin that the school district and city should work together to open more school community parks in Los Angeles. This is why I have been advocating to expand this joint partnership program since I took office in 2017, and it’s also why the program is one of the Los Angeles Unified School District’s local advocacy priorities.

My office worked with stakeholders to open the Westchester pilot park at Open Magnet Charter School last year. Though we have been thrilled with the success in Westchester, the final hurdle for that particular site — and the expansion of the school community park program overall — has been getting support from the city or county to cover the costs of security and maintenance.

Austin writes that “no one is asking schools to provide their facilities for free,” but that is actually what’s happening. The LAUSD will save the city and county millions in park construction costs by opening our schools, and all we’re asking in return is the funds to pay someone to open and close the gate.


The LAUSD sent the city a new joint use agreement months ago. As soon as the city signs it, we are ready to continue our partnership to expand equitable park access in more communities.

Nick Melvoin, Los Angeles

The writer is a member of the LAUSD Board of Education.


To the editor: I agree with Austin that as many LAUSD schools as possible should be turned into community school parks (CSPs). But take it from one who tried and only achieved a small victory: It will not be easy.

I along with the late Cal State Northridge professor Jack Foley led an effort that got two CSPs established at Trinity Street and Vine Street elementary schools. The LAUSD used bond money to take up asphalt and use a new grass area as the centerpiece of the CSPs.

The LAUSD’s Beyond the Bell program opened the parks to the community on weekends and during vacations — until the money ran out and the parks were closed to the public. While we got the LAUSD and the city to pass resolutions in favor of CSPs, the city never joined the LAUSD in running the parks.


Now is the time for the entire L.A. community to turn our schools into CSPs.

John Perez, North Hollywood

The writer was president of United Teachers Los Angeles from 2002-05.