Monday, October 4, 2010

Costliest School in the Nation

Historic L.A. Hotel Finds New Life As School Campus
Karen Grigsby Bates, National Public Radio, September 13, 2010

Several elementary schools, high schools, and K-12 schools now make up the new Robert F. Kennedy Community Schools campus, located in one of the poorest, most densely populated parts of California.

The campus' six schools have been the focus of considerable criticism. The price tag for the entire campus totals approximately $578 million. And in a state awash in waves of red ink, that has attracted a lot of notice.

There have been detailed descriptions of the professional-quality science labs, the giant swimming pool and the chic faculty dining room (on the site of the Ambassador's coffee shop, designed by the city's most prominent African-American architect, Paul R. Williams).

Some critics have said, "They could have built a good school for a lot less."

Georgia Lazo, principal of one of the K-12 schools on campus, says, "It's a great facility and our kids deserve it, our community deserves it," she says.

The schools were built on a site formerly occupied by the hotel where Robert Kennedy was assassinated. Once the hotel was razed, officials realized the assassination wasn't the only bad luck at the site-- a methane gas field was discovered under the building. All told, the city paid $33 million to mitigate the problem.

Most state and local governments do not have the funds or property available to build schools on greenfields, however, as this and the Carson-Gore school case demonstrate, site selection guidelines and proper environmental due diligence can help prevent unplanned and costly investigations and remediation.

Read more here. (And here.)

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