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Disputing 'Myths' on School Site

January 29, 1987

After reading the letter from Alhambra City Manager Kevin Murphy in the Jan. 15 San Gabriel Valley section, I felt it necessary to rebut some of his statements. Instead of correcting "myths," Murphy is just adding more of them and giving credence to the ones already in existence.

Let's examine his statements one by one.

"Myth" No. 1: "Alhambra is producing the students causing the overcrowding."

Murphy contends that in the last nine years only 200 students have come from the newer multi-family housing units in Alhambra, or only one child for every five units. In the next breath he states that, "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."

Figures extrapolated from statistics obtained from the county Regional Planning Department, the cities involved and the 1980 Census do not agree with his statements. They show that in the last eight years the population in Alhambra has increased by 16,978.

Are we to assume that out of that 16,978, only 200 are students? Or maybe Murphy is saying that a "younger population" produces fewer students than an older population. Doesn't that go against nature?

What has actually been said is that Alhambra and Monterey Park have the largest population growth in the Alhambra City and High School Districts. The statistics confirm this fact.

"Myth" No. 2: "There is abundant land for a school site in Alhambra." Murphy states, "There is abundant land in all the surrounding cities." I think he is confused by the difference between the words abundant and vacant . There is "abundant" land in all the surrounding cities, but all except two known sites are occupied.

He also states that all three high schools are within the Alhambra city boundaries. He fails to mention that two of the high schools are barely within city limits. San Gabriel High School is on the very eastern edge of the city and Mark Keppel High School on the very southern edge. He really shouldn't try to give people the feeling that all three are grouped in downtown Alhambra.

I contend that if one of the three proposed sites is selected, many children in western Monterey Park may have to travel even further than they do now. And keep in mind that one site is only seven blocks from Mark Keppel High School; another would be eight or nine blocks at the most.

"Myth" No. 3: "The existing high schools can be expanded to handle the overcrowding and any in the future."

I agree that expanding the existing schools is not the answer to the immediate problem. However, no one knows what the future may bring, and even our best guesses are often wrong. As an example, during a decline in school enrollment a few years ago, the projections failed to forecast the explosion we're having now.

However, that explosion is much stronger in Alhambra or Monterey Park than it is in Rosemead. You only have to look at the numbers over the past few years to realize this.

Supt. Bruce Peppin and the Alhambra school board seem to think that Rosemead is going to have the same population growth that we've seen in Alhambra and Monterey Park. Where are the statistics to support this?

The high school should be built where it is needed now, and if school enrollment continues to grow drastically over the next few years, and if that growth is from Rosemead, then look at building another school in the Rosemead area. It is not needed there at this point in time.

Finally, Murphy states that there are times when school boards must make decisions which have a positive or negative impact on a large number of people. I agree. However, when there is a positive solution to the problem, why does the Alhambra school board choose the negative one?

This school board seems intent on doing exactly what the majority of the people in both Monterey Park and Rosemead do not want them to do. They seem to be intent on putting a high school in an area where it is not needed or wanted, and they refuse to give serious consideration to sites where it is needed and wanted. They also seem determined to take a lot of people's homes instead of using a little imagination and building the high school in an area that would affect very few people.

No, Mr. Murphy, I cannot agree with you that the Alhambra Board of Education has made a wise choice.

JIM SMITH

Board of Education member

Garvey School District

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