Over the last several months, the San Gabriel Valley Section of the Los Angeles Times has covered the selection of a new high school site by the Alhambra School District Board of Education. On numerous occasions there have been quotes from homeowners and parents in Monterey Park and Rosemead concerned about proposals to construct a new campus in their city.
My reason for writing this letter is to dispel some misunderstandings and point out some facts.
Myth No. 1: Alhambra is producing the students causing the overcrowding.
In the last year the Alhambra Planning Commission heard this same statement and asked city staff to calculate the number of children from new residential construction projects actually attending all school grades over the last nine years. The results of the study indicated that only 200 students from these newer multiple-family housing units were attending school (actually one child for every five units).
One real impact in the school attendance throughout the district is the changing demographics in our cities. New younger families are moving into our older single-family neighborhoods and many of our retired residents are moving to smaller houses in or out of the district. This is confirmed by the declining age of the overall population in Alhambra.
Myth No. 2: There is abundant land for a school site in Alhambra.
This is true, but there is also abundant land in all the surrounding cities. There are problems on many of the sites proposed by the Rosemead and Monterey Park residents that revolve primarily around site size and topography.
Alhambra now has all three high school campuses within its boundaries, serving students from Alhambra, San Gabriel, Monterey Park and Rosemead. From a simple geographic basis, it doesn't make sense to put another high school in the north end of the district. If another campus was constructed in Alhambra, the residents in Monterey Park and Rosemead would continue to transport their children long distances to school.
Myth No. 3: The existing high school campuses can be expanded to handle the current overcrowding and any in the future.
While sounding like a fairly simple solution, the fact is that if additional classrooms are added, you also need to add or enlarge science labs, gymnasiums, administrative support facilities, or all the additional support facilities to guarantee our children a quality education. In the final analysis, that's what we're all after--a school setting where our children can learn to develop their skills and abilities to cope with their future. Does it make sense to perpetuate or make worse an already overcrowded situation on three campuses?
Finally, there are many times when school boards must make decisions which impact a large number of people positively or negatively. As the electorate, we can only hope that the Board of Education makes a studied, rational decision that will bring the greatest good to the greatest number of people and minimize the negative impact on residents.
From my review of the studies prepared by the school's consultant, the Board of Education made a wise choice.
KEVIN J. MURPHY
City Manager, Alhambra