By CHRISTIAN MONTERROSA | Reporter
Close to 60 Palisadians gathered in the auditorium of Canyon Charter Elementary School on Thursday, May 24, to hear a proposed renovation of the campus by the Los Angeles Unified School District.
In a project that is expected to take close to two years to complete and cost over $3 million, the school is set to undergo a major renovation that would eliminate nine temporary classrooms and replace them with a permanent two-story building, leaving the historic schoolhouse untouched.
The temporary, or “relocatable,” classrooms were first put in place to accommodate increasing enrollment throughout the district.
Project planners presented three different layout options to the community, assuring them no decisions had been made yet. Parents and local residents immediately interrupted the meeting, asking why they had not been notified about the project prior to this meeting.
Ashley Mercado, community relations organizer for LAUSD, quickly regained control of the meeting, pointing out that this meeting was in fact the district’s way of notifying them, seeking any input along the way.
The renovations will be an effort to increase wheelchair accessibility throughout the school and create a more efficient pick-up and drop-off system. Parking at the school is also expected to be addressed.
When the meeting opened for public comment, the primary concern was the traffic that such a project would create in an already congested area.
Suggesting a fourth alternative, Mark Landay, a member of the Santa Monica Canyon Civic Association, proposed the district do nothing at all and instead work toward a lower population at the school.
By eliminating enrollment of lottery students who come from outside of the area, there would be less traffic, Landay said. He argued such a move would not affect the school’s demographics as “the current neighborhood is already diverse.”
Another nearby resident suggested bussing in construction workers once the project starts to reduce the amount of incoming vehicles to the area.
Taking all suggestions into consideration, LAUSD will be conducting more community meetings and keeping neighbors updated as they continue the decision making process. The project is slated to begin sometime in 2019.