Change at Canyon Charter Elementary School

An Editorial by Nicole Sheard, Principal

As many have been made aware, Canyon Charter Elementary School will undergo a construction project projected to begin in summer 2020. This will be the most significant update to our campus in more than 40 years.

As the principal of the school, I am writing to clear up some misconceptions and to provide pertinent information about this project to our neighbors and school community. Our goal is to remain as transparent as possible and to work with the community as we embark on this exciting, and much needed, improvement to our campus.

Over 20 years ago, bungalows were placed on the Canyon campus as temporary structures to house students when the state reduced the class sizes to 20:1. There has never been an issue of overcrowding at Canyon. In fact, at one point, enrollment was so low that the school was in jeopardy of being closed.

Rather than close, students were bused in as a means of maintaining enrollment. Students are no longer bussed in to Canyon and the majority of the school’s population comes from the immediate neighborhoods. Most classes are kept to under 24 students, thanks to the generous fundraising that occurs at Canyon.

The school’s enrollment remains, as it has been for many years, at just under 400 students, which is what is required to keep the school open and functioning.

The school does hold a lottery each year for students outside of the school boundaries to fill available seats, however we typically have very limited space and are only able to accept anywhere from 0-15 students per year throughout the grades. Because Canyon has a large footprint, most of the students are driven in to school and must be dropped off or picked up.

A small amount of families are fortunate enough to be able to walk to school. There will always be traffic surrounding any school during drop off and pick up times.  This will be taken into consideration when construction at Canyon begins. The traffic, especially during LA rush hour, isn’t going to go away, but fortunately each of the preliminary schemes presented by LAUSD will considerably improve traffic congestion during drop off and pick up in the long run.

The proposed improvement project will address many lingering campus deficiencies such as a lack of ADA access to the school and ADA accessible bathrooms, the necessary removal of bungalows which were never approved by the Office of the State Architect and were never built to be classrooms, the need to bring two isolated kindergarten classrooms onto campus, much needed IT network convergence, mandated replacement of the remaining very old bungalows and a desire to increase security. It is important to note that enrollment will not increase due to changes to the campus.

We are replacing (a one-to one replacement) nine very old or temporary classrooms with nine 21st century permanent classrooms to be designed and enjoyed by future generations of Canyon students. LAUSD has conducted a very thorough site analysis and has determined that the guiding principles behind the project include 21st century learning, campus character, sustainability, economics and efficiency, safety and security, health and well-being, and state and local requirements.

At Canyon, the faculty and staff embrace every family and child who comes to us.

We value public education and aim to operate as a public charter which is transparent and inclusive of every family who walks through our doors.  It is our goal and our duty to provide our students with the best possible education. They deserve to be educated in the best possible physical environment.

We hope that the community will support us as we venture into these very overdue upgrades.

We are working closely with LAUSD to minimize impacts to our neighbors and on traffic patterns. The benefits of a new state of the art building for students of the many generations to come will far outweigh the possible inconveniences during the two years of construction. Canyon is growing with the times and we look forward to these improvements to our gem of an outstanding local public school. Plans and updates about the project, including any future community meetings, can be found on the school’s website at canyoncharter.com.