A motion to move to bungalows to allow for full day kindergarten classes at passed unanimously at Tuesday night's Culver City School Board meeting.
The bungalows currently sit on the parking lot between and .
Everyone from students to teachers spoke out on the issue. Leslie Johnson, a teacher at Culver Park High School for more than 25 years thanked the board for its hard work and said the welfare of the students should remain the top priority.
“These students deserve a school where they will be proud to attend and where they can be successful,” Johnson said. “I find it difficult to believe there is not a better solution to our dilemma.”
Culver Park High School junior Courtney Stevenson also took to the mike to express her concerns about the new campus.
“To be honest, I’m open to the idea of moving the school to a new location,” Stevenson said. “But I want everyone to know how difficult it’s going to be.”
She said the current location of Culver Park is peaceful and “school-oriented."
Jessica Delgado, a Culver Park student and a student representative on the board said the new location would make it difficult for students to arrive at school on time and would not be conducive to the feeling of a “safe and secure” environment.
Drafting students from Culver City Middle School also provided input. They showed up with their teacher, Susan Snell, to present drawings of how they think the bungalows could best be integrated at the site with some suggestions including adding new drywall, paint, carpeting and awnings.
Some of the students also suggested not having a chain-link fence and adding a basketball court or a central, meeting area for the students.
Culver City Federaton of Teachers President David Mielke, who is also a former Culver Park teacher, thanked the board for taking the issue seriously but raised his own concerns.
“It is about the kids...and the process here has been frustrating to see because it seems it’s all being done at the last minute,” he said. “These students [at Culver Park] haven’t gotten the same consideration that we’re giving all of our other students.”
He also said it appeared that everything is “coming full circle back to a place we don’t want to circle back to,” referring to the history of the school, which first started out in a couple of small rooms.
However, board member Kathy Paspalis said moving Culver Park was the best solution.
“[The school] can handle being over there,” she said. “It’s not going to be a hardship over there if we put amenities there for them. I think it’s high time for 132 kindergarten students to be allowed to have a full-day kindergarten program, especially when they’re being taught in a second language.”
Culver City School Board President Karlo Silbiger called the vote “one of the most difficult votes for me as a board member in the two plus years that I’ve been here.” He said it was an issue that is very dear to him.
“For those of you who don’t know, I’m a teacher during the day and I’ve taught in every possible environment you can imagine,” he said. “There is absolutely no question in my mind that the environment you’re in affects the way that students learn.”
Of the utmost importance he said, is that Culver Park realize this is a temporary move.
“This is a major thing for me because I hope that that allows all of us to create this sense of urgency that we need to find a place for them long term [that is] better than in the back of a parking lot,” he said.
Silbiger suggested the move could be for one year while the board begins this fall to look for other options for the school.
Traffic patterns in the area, as well as greenery and recreational opportunities for the students were also among the list of concerns.
Board Member Patricia Siever said she would also like to see an alternative location considered, including somewhere in West LA.
“I do believe that all of our students are equal,” Siever said. “I know our young students need extra nurturing... but I am saying that I’d like to see us pursue it.”
Culver City School Board Superintendent Patricia Jaffe said she has already begun working on alternative solutions but realizes time is of the essence.
“I think if we can get the village, we’ll certainly take the village,” she said. “But I think we need an alternative plan in case we can’t get the village for next year.”