With Los Angeles facing both a lack of secondary school space and a glut of vacant office and commercial buildings, why not convert some of that unused space into mini-campuses, ameliorating both problems in the process?
This would not be just an economic balm, but could have great educational value as well. United Teachers-Los Angeles President Helen Bernstein suggested in her Dec. 29 letter that the Los Angeles Unified School District consider building smaller and taller secondary schools in the face of the scarcity of available land. I am a guidance counselor for the LAUSD and I applaud Bernstein's ideas. By going a step further and converting existing space, we would also be able to try some creative solutions to many educational problems.
I have been a counselor at an urban Los Angeles magnet school for eight years and I came to realize the value of a small campus when we were relocated from a tiny, crowded site to a modern, larger secondary school plant. At the smaller site we had only 750 students, as compared to 1,400 now, and there was a real feeling of community. I knew most of the students by name and there were few places for them to hide or get into trouble.