Culver City school officials, who ended high school students' off-campus eating privileges after neighborhood residents complained, are now asking the community to help them deal with the expected increase in noontime crowds on campus in September.
In response to the district's appeal, a committee of teachers, students, parents and school officials has sent letters to the community appealing for volunteers and donations to help prepare and beautify the campus at 4401 Elenda Ave.
"We want to make the campus the kind of place where students will want to stay and have lunch," said school board member Julie Lugo Cerra, a member of the committee. "We would like to see some school pride develop out of this."
Looking for Space
The immediate problem is finding a place for students to eat. The cafeteria seats 500, but more than 1,300 students will be eating lunch on campus. School officials plan to increase space by creating outdoor eating areas on campus.
The group is appealing for volunteers to help reseed lawns and for donations from community groups and alumni to purchase tables, benches, trash cans and planters.
Jim Quirarte, a former president of the Culver City Lions Club, said the club has pledged to help.
"Right now the campus looks terrible. I wouldn't want to eat there," he said. "Students should have a pleasurable place to eat."
The Board of Education has provided $31,000 from state lottery funds to renovate the cafeteria, and the high school student body has contributed $5,000. The district plans to add 21 part-time workers to its staff of 40, said Joann Williams, director of food services.
No More Open Campus
"There is a general feeling that we would like the campus to be a fun place for students," she said.
The new regulations end nearly 15 years of open-campus privileges. The regulation restricts 9th-, 10th- and 11th-grade students to campus, but seniors are permitted to eat off campus.
The board revoked the students' off-campus eating privileges in April after community residents complained about noise and the trail of empty bottles, cans and wrappers left by students as they traveled from nearby fast-food restaurants.
"It is important that the effort be a cooperative one, which will leave students, alumni, staff and community with a sense of accomplishment," Lugo Cerra said.