Echo Park’s newest school becomes a takeover target

The steel skeleton of Central Regional Elementary School #14 has risen quickly on a vast two-block site that was scraped clean of more than 50 Echo Park homes and apartments. L.A. Unified, which waged a battle with residents and several neighborhood groups over the site,*  had long claimed it needed to build the 875-seat campus to reduce overcrowding at nearby public schools. That does not seem to be a problem anymore, and the district has put the $68 million Echo Park school – scheduled to open in the fall of 2011-  up for grabs for others to operate.

CRES #14, located  southwest of Alvarado Street and Sunset Boulevard, is one of 9 new campuses that L.A. Unified is making available to private charter school operators, groups of teachers and other organizations as part of its School Choice program. Offers have been submitted by 129 groups to operate the new schools, L.A. Unified announced earlier this month.  Seven suitors submitted letters of intent to operate the Echo Park school. The bidders ranged from Gabriella Charter School, which currently occupies part of the nearby Logan Street School, to the Los Angeles teachers’ union. The applicants seeking the school are expected to make presentations to the public in the coming months before the school board decides who gets the school. That decision is expected to be made next February.

Here’s a list of the groups bidding for CRES #14

* One of those groups was the Echo Park Historical Society. The Eastsider is a society board member


  1. That’s a shame, wish the school would be a public one and not another charter school!

  2. Why do you hate our children, Kelly?

    The public schools are a disaster. The charter schools are considerably and demonstrably superior.

  3. Geah- there are great charter schools and great LAUSD schools. And there are bad of both as well.
    A child’s education as more to do with what the child and parents put into it then the building and who runs it.
    I am the parents of an LAUSD student. My daughter goes to a school with a bad rep. but we love the school and she is thriving (and getting 100% on the state tests that most people use to judge a school).
    I know bashing public school is the hip thing to do, but it would be so nice if folks knew what they were talking about and did not use grand generalizations

  4. Geah,
    LAUSD used emminent domain to throw people out of their homes, and now they are turning the school over to all-comers. We all suspected that there was no need for this developement, and the proof is now evident.
    If charter schools are so wonderful, why aren’t they building their own campuses, instead of using LAUSD rejects?
    Oh, I get it, LAUSD is a construction, not instruction entity!!!

  5. @Noel GR Why aren’t they building their own? Charters are public schools. Under Prop 39, the district that grants the charter is required to provide each charter school “contiguous furnished facilities in conditions reasonably equivalent to district-run schools.” In other words, the Prop that CA voters passed says that LAUSD must provide charters with a building just like any other public school (and again, I will emphasize that a charter *is* a public school). The most expensive part of starting any school is the facilities. LAUSD gets money to build the schools from the state (thanks to Prop 13, it’s all controlled at the state level, not the local level as in most other states) and charters that are part of the district are allowed to, in essence, share in that funding of facilities through Prop 39.

    And agreed with Dorit, there are good and bad public and good and bad charters. It’s too bad that most people tend to take one side and vilify the other.

  6. Michael Tessler

    It is very unfortunate and discouraging to see such an opposition to charter schools, especially coming from people who haven’t seen them in action. I’m particularly disappointed in the blog writer’s blatantly misinformed statement: “CRES #14… is one of 9 new campuses that L.A. Unified is making available to private charter school operators” when charter schools are part of the LAUSD system (http://notebook.lausd.net/portal/page?_pageid=33,205129&_dad=ptl&_schema=PTL_EP) and are unconditionally free. The blog writer is also clearly misinformed about the School Choice program by implying that if a non-traditional LAUSD school came in, there would be no ease in overcrowding. Any school that came in would be inherently serving the neighborhood’s students and would, of course, relieve overcrowding.

    Especially when LAUSD schools are performing well below state standards and there is a staggering inequality in schools of low-income areas and high-income areas. The high school drop out rate of Latino and African American students is 28% and 33% respectively, and numerous universities (including our own CSULA) have released research papers (http://www.calstatela.edu/academic/ccoe/perc/press1.pdf) outlining the benefits of charter schools to specifically student of low-income areas. How can you deny these successes by being so misinformed? And the misinformation is running so rampant that many people aren’t even considering the benefits, or the definition, of a charter school. Being so distrustful of change, especially when it is proven itself positive and sustainable, should have no place in a school system. People should be open to new techniques and methods to better serve our children, and not be blind to these alternatives. LAUSD itself states that it has much to learn from charter schools.

    KIPP LA Prep in Boyle Heights is a perfect example of a charter school that is serving the redistribute the inequality in education that exists in our system. But this school has been overlooked by the so-called “Eastsider”. And for someone who claims to have this area in his best interest, I am very disappointed in this kind journalism.

  7. Mr. Tessler:

    While charters may operate public schools, the charter organizations remain in many cases private entities that operate independently of the school district with its publicly elected leaders. However, private does not mean “bad” – especially when you consider the track record of public school districts. Any type of school organization – private, public or a hybrid – is welcome if it can eventually generate results.

    The issue of overcrowding was raised because that was the school district’s main reason for building CRES #14 even as enrollment plunged over several years. Overcrowding is no longer as big an issue as nearby schools have returned to semester schedules or, in the case of Logan Elementary, have allowed charters to occupy empty classrooms.

    As a blog with a staff of one, not all schools get covered, even high performing ones like Kipp. But The Eastsider has not ignored charters because they are charters. In fact, last month, The Eastsider published a story about Ofelia Carrillo, the star graduate of El Sereno’s Stern Math & Science School, which is operated by the Alliance for College Ready Schools.

    As for being a “so-called” Eastsider, believe me, I’m an Eastsider – who wants good schools.

  8. People’s homes (50 houses!) were demolished to build a school that our community knew we didn’t need. 200 people were displaced and a section of Marathon St. no longer exists. THAT’s what is upsetting! The enrollment numbers of the three elementary schools in my neighborhood are extremely low so as Eastsider rightly points out, overcrowding is no longer an issue here.

  9. Sounds like the history of Dodger Stadium all over again.

  10. It seems like nobody in Echo Park cares that poor people had to give up their homes for amounts of money that prevented them from buying houses in the same neighborhood so that this could be built?? And for what? Would this have happened to “nicer homes” in a wealthy neighborhood? Never. Wake up Echo Park. “Roads will be built for you while you sit around and sing along”- so sad.

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