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Neon Tommy - Annenberg digital news

First Day Of School For LAUSD, New $578 Million RFK Complex

Amanda Tran and Kristen Villarreal |
September 13, 2010 | 2:37 p.m. PDT

Staff Reporters

The new RFK Complex opens its doors to 4,200 LAUSD students Monday, Sept. 13, 2010. (Amanda Tran)
The new RFK Complex opens its doors to 4,200 LAUSD students Monday, Sept. 13, 2010. (Amanda Tran)
Monday marked the first day back at school for thousands of students in the Los Angeles Unified School District.

The first day comes slightly later this year; the budget cuts prevented the second-largest school district in the nation from opening most of its school's doors as early as usual.

Monday was also the first day for the 4,200 students attending the brand-new $578 million Robert F. Kennedy complex, located at the site of the infamous Ambassador Hotel where Kennedy was assassinated in 1968.

The state-of-the-art campus, known as the "Taj Mahal" of schools, is the nation's most expensive public school to date.

The K-12 complex, home to six independent pilot schools, features murals, a marble memorial to Kennedy, a public park, a swimming pool and small facets of the original hotel.

LAUSD Board President Monica Garcia, along with other board members and superintendents, toured the complex to welcome students, parents and school personnel on the first day.

"This will be our greatest year yet," Garcia said. "We have embraced the call from our schools and communities to provide every student, in every classroom, and every school with a quality education."

Despite excitement from Garcia and the school board, critics argue the complex is a waste of tax payer dollars.

"New buildings are nice, but when they're run by the same people who've given us a 50 percent dropout rate, they're a big waste of taxpayer money," said Ben Austin, executive director of Parent Revolution who sits on the California Board of Education. "Parents aren't fooled."

Is the multimillion dollar complex worth the price tag? Neon Tommy got an inside look. 

The RFK Complex is said to reduce overcrowding in classrooms for other LAUSD schools and to provide a nearby school for the community. For many years, thousands of students were bused outside the area and were forced to attend overcrowded schools.

Many students were excited for their first day at the new complex. And for proponents of the complex, the facility is long overdue.
"Don't you want to give your kids the best gift possible? Does it really matter how much you spend on them?" security captain Mario Bonilla said. "It's about time LAUSD did this for the kids in Los Angeles." 


To reach reporter Amanda Tran, click here.
Follow Amanda on Twitter: @amandajtran

To reach reporter Kristen Villarreal, click here.

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