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District Seeks Public Input on Finding New School Sites


Hoping to identify potential sites for high schools in the growing northeast Valley, the Los Angeles Unified School District is holding a public meeting at 6 p.m. today at San Fernando High School.

"The more people, the merrier," said Bob Niccum, the district's director of real estate and asset management. "Bring friends."

District officials will also discuss what makes a good school site, such as an abandoned building or vacant lot that would not require the district to seize homes. Rundown apartments are also ideal, officials said, because they usually offer adequate space and revitalization potential in a blighted neighborhood.

New schools would help relieve overcrowding at Monroe, Van Nuys and San Fernando high schools.

Officials said the district needs 51 new schools to cope with its surging student population. In the Valley, the district is searching for property east of the San Diego Freeway and north of Oxnard Street to build six primary centers, three elementary schools, two middle schools and two high schools.

"Most likely, we'll need three new high schools in the northeast Valley," Niccum said.

"We're seeing a lot of growth in the area."

Pending state approval for additional funding, Niccum said the district plans to increase the number of new schools to 100, largely because of the class-size reduction program that mandates a maximum student-teacher ratio in kindergarten through third grades of 20 to 1.

Earlier this year, the district identified a 12.6-acre former Gemco store in Arleta as its "preferred" site for a high school. The district backed down last month after a neighborhood group voiced opposition.

"So we've decided to start from scratch," Niccum said.

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