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Plan to Build Educational Park Approved

July 14, 1988|PATRICIA BIEDERMAN | Times Staff Writer

The Los Angeles Unified School District has received conditional approval from the federal government to build a marine science-oriented educational park at Ft. MacArthur in San Pedro.

The school district was in danger of losing the 52-acre site, which the government deeded to the district in 1979 with the understanding that a new high school be built there. The school was never built. The U.S. Department of Education had given the district until July 1 to come up with an acceptable alternative plan for using the ocean-view site, known as the Upper Reservation.

The Department of Education approved the district's plan late last month with the understanding that the district make significant progress on the project within the next year.

Strings Attached

George E. Hoops, the Seattle-based federal education official who approved the plan, said he gave the district the go-ahead "on the condition that they prove they are going to be able to implement that marine-science program."

The Department of Education will evaluate the district's progress next summer, said Hoops, who noted that the emphasis of the project, marine science, is particularly apt for the site. The government could reclaim the site if the district does not comply.

The district plans to build a facility for the care and study of marine animals, in cooperation with Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, publishers and operators of theme parks. The proposed educational park also would include a permanent facility for outdoor education and facilities for training special education teachers and the teaching of a new "global education" curriculum that emphasizes international studies.

Angel's Gate Continuation High School and the San Pedro-Wilmington Skills Center, an adult education facility, now operating at the site, would continue.

The district plan calls for creation of a marine-sciences consortium that would link university marine-science departments, environmental research groups and others with the proposed facility.

Willing to Participate

School district Associate Supt. Paul Possemato said the California State University system and USC have said they are willing to participate in the consortium. Hoops said he will look for signed agreements or other evidence of the consortium's creation when the district's progress is assessed next year.

The district told the government that it expects the marine animal-care facility to open in the summer of 1991. Over the next 12 months the district intends to obtain approval for its plan from the Coastal Commission and other involved agencies, begin construction of the outdoor education facility, begin site preparation for the animal-care facility and establish a nonprofit Ft. MacArthur Project Foundation to raise funds.

The district told the government that more than $6 million has been committed to the project, including $3 million from Harcourt Brace Jovanovich and more than $1 million from the Milken Family Foundation, a charity.

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