The Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) built what is being billed as a “Taj Mahal” school to the tune of $578 million. To be honest, I couldn’t be happier.
Most people are in an uproar over the cost but how can you be upset about putting money into a school? It’s okay to spend $1.3 billion on Cowboys Stadium to house the Dallas Cowboys football team, but spend half that amount on schools and you get an argument. ALL schools should be castles. Period. There is no better place to invest than in schools and education.
The United States is arguably the home to more top universities than any other country in the world. It’s a shame that the same can’t be said for our elementary, middle and high schools.
The LAUSD school is no ordinary school, though. It is part school, part public park, and part historical memorial dedicated to Senator Robert F. Kennedy. The land sits on the former site of the Ambassador Hotel where he was assassinated in 1968.
The money to build this state-of-the-art facility came from a voter-approved bond to be used for building schools. It is not to be used for teacher salaries or other expenses. It may not be right but that’s the way it works.
People who are outraged at the cost only see the black and white of the issue – the cost. Included in the cost are seismic codes (it is Los Angeles) and high-tech equipment like wireless internet, smart-boards, and energy saving, green equipment. These things actually save money in the long run.
For example, one smartboard system could cost $5,000 but it replaces an overhead projector, DVD/VCR player, television, and host of other electronic systems that schools now use to teach. And it works more efficiently while introducing some very cool and effective teaching elements. But if you don’t know, you don’t know.
We won’t know if all of this will pay off as good for the students and teachers for some time to come. And we also don’t know what other programs and students services will be rolled into the mix just yet. But let’s hope it’s all positive and it becomes a model for other schools across the country.