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High School Construction to Begin : Education: After a decade of legal wrangling and delays in funding, a groundbreaking will be held Friday for the new Lynwood campus.


Richard Armstrong has served on the Lynwood school board for 20 years, and it seems like much of the time the district has been trying to build a new high school.

After more than a decade of planning, waging legal battles and waiting for state funds, the district has scheduled a groundbreaking ceremony at 10 a.m. Friday for the new $96-million Lynwood High School at 4050 Imperial Highway.

If all goes as planned, the school will open in July, 1997, providing much-needed relief for the district's existing high school.

"It's been a long time coming," Armstrong said. "I'm happy it's finally here."

The district has already started to demolish buildings at the site, which has been occupied by a shopping center. Construction is scheduled to begin within three months, Supt. Audrey M. Clarke of the Lynwood Unified School District said.

The existing high school on Bullis Road has been overcrowded for more years than many can remember.

Built in 1940 to house about 1,500 students, the campus in recent years has been crammed with portable classrooms to accommodate 3,300 students. Students have no place to eat indoors, and lunch periods have be staggered to avoid crowding.

The school lacks other amenities, including a public-address system. When announcements need to be made, administrators have to distribute bulletins for teachers to read in class. In summer, students sweltered because many classrooms didn't have air-conditioning.

Three years ago, the school switched to a year-round class schedule so that one-third of the students are on vacation at a time, Clarke said. When the new high school opens, the officials will decide whether to continue a year-round schedule or return to a traditional school year, she said.

Because the 33-acre site for the new high school is much smaller than many high school campuses being built around the state, the district's architects designed the buildings to make the most of the land, Clarke said.

The main classroom buildings are three stories high. Eight tennis courts sit on top of a parking structure, while parking spaces set aside for staff will be underground. The school will have a new gymnasium as well as football, baseball and softball fields and basketball courts.

The new campus will also have a performing arts center that can be used by the community. It will have air-conditioning as well as solar-powered heating. Classrooms will be wired to accommodate computers and cable television, although the district may not be able to purchase the equipment right away.

"We want to be sure we are ready for state-of-the-art technology," Clarke said.

The existing high school on Bullis Road will become a junior high school, and Hosler Junior High School may be converted to an elementary school.

The delays in building the new high school stem primarily from a lengthy legal battle over the site.

The district had looked for land since the early 1980s and finally settled on the Imperial Highway property. But the owner of the site, the Seventh-day Adventist Church, refused to sell and the district was forced to sue. In 1991, the school district won its legal fight to acquire the land.

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