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Where's Data Behind Board's Decision?

January 15, 1987

What will it take to convince the Alhambra school board that the present and future need for a high school is definitely in the western part of the district?

The board recently narrowed the number of potential sites for the new high school to three, all of them in south Rosemead. We think, based on studies we have done of the area's population and building statistics, that the new high school should be built in Monterey Park to serve the growing populations of both Monterey Park and Alhambra.

Our studies, based on figures obtained from the county Regional Planning Department, the cities involved, and the 1980 Census and projections and estimates to the year 1986, show that San Gabriel High School could continue to accommodate more than 1,000 students from outside that city. Since Rosemead is within three miles of Mark Keppel and San Gabriel high schools, it makes sense to send the Rosemead students there rather than build a high school that is not wanted in their city.

In explaining the site decision, Dora Padilla, president of the Alhambra school board, stated that the Garvey School District, which serves elementary school students from south Rosemead, South San Gabriel and the easternmost portion of Monterey Park, had wanted the high school built within its boundaries. But the Garvey district has changed its position, and its board went on the record last month as favoring two sites in the western half of the district that would cause the least disruption to homeowners.

Bruce Peppin, superintendent of the Alhambra district, has supported the selection of the three sites in Rosemead, saying that the Garvey School District has shown growth, even though he alluded to the fact that both Alhambra and Monterey Park account for most of the growth. Our studies also indicate that Monterey Park has the potential to produce one-third of the students for the entire district.

Here's more proof. Our figures indicate that the student population, ages 5-17, for the four areas the district serves, is: Alhambra 10,447, Monterey Park 10,347, San Gabriel 5,440, south Rosemead 4,224. Monterey Park had only 100 fewer students than Alhambra. How can the Alhambra school board ignore the need for a high school in the Monterey Park area just based on these facts alone?

Our figures also show that Alhambra accounts for 33% and Monterey Park 48% of the new housing built within the district since 1970. But the Alhambra district's solution is to dump the high school in south Rosemead.

All the facts and figures point to only one answer. The fourth high school is most needed in the Monterey Park and Alhambra area. If the Alhambra district could have found a vacant site in the eastern part of the district, we would have been willing to suffer the inconvenience rather than uproot thousands of people. But since there is no preferred vacant site in or near that area, the school board should have considered sites only in the western half of the district.

We also question the board's choices, because eminent domain law states that land should be taken only ". . .for the greatest public good and least private injury. . ." Those criteria have not been met. The sites with the least loss of homes are in the Alhambra/Monterey Park area. Placing the fourth high school on the western side of the district would also reduce travel time for a greater number of students and eliminate busing altogether, therefore benefiting the entire district.

How did the board come to its conclusions? Does the district have concrete proof that it is more beneficial to place a high school in south Rosemead rather than in the Monterey Park/Alhambra area? We expect factual and statistical data to back up its decision.

BETTY GIN TOM

CINDY YEE

Monterey Park

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