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Portable Classrooms to Save Program

May 22, 1988|PATRICIA WARD BIEDERMAN | Times Staff Writer

The Los Angeles Board of Education has agreed to purchase 50 portable classrooms, several of which are earmarked for the endangered Bell High School program at Harbor College.

While most of the portables will be used to relieve crowded conditions in schools in the Los Angeles Unified School District, several are destined for Harbor College so that Bell High School can continue to send some ninth-graders to study on the Wilmington campus.

Almost Squeezed Out

Since 1986 the school district has been renting four classrooms and office space at Harbor to house a popular program that allows more than 100 Bell freshmen, most of them Latinos from low-income families, to experience college campus life while taking high school courses.

Recently, however, increased enrollment at the community college and the resurrection of its journalism department threatened to squeeze the Bell program off the Harbor campus.

Bell at Harbor students and their parents have been writing to college and district personnel since college officials announced last month that they could no longer provide space for the high school.

The students, parents and staff attended a school board meeting earlier this month to praise the program and ask that it be retained.

Several of the ninth-graders, who are bused 20 miles to the campus each school day, said the program had instilled in them a desire to succeed academically and to go to college. One student extolled the beauty of the campus and its lack of gangs.

Voted With Majority

The students, who are taught by high school and college faculty while at Harbor, return to Bell after ninth grade.

Southeast school board member Leticia Quezada, who helped start Bell at Harbor, last week voted with the majority of the seven-person board to purchase the portables that will keep the program alive.

"It brings college so much closer to home," Quezada said.

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