Another L.A. Unified Boondoggle

John Seiler:

Gov. Jerry Brown and the teachers unions (but I repeat myself) are lobbying for $12 billion in tax increases “for the children.” The kids will suffer, supposedly, if massive cuts are made to their schools. (Never mind that hefty teacher pay and pensions could be cut.)

But, where’s the money going now?

There’s yet another scandal in L.A. Unified. The Los Angeles Times reported:

L.A. Unified sues over contamination at new Glassell Park campus

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa has been a constant salesman on the topic of public schools, pushing for reforms, helping elect new school board members and raising millions of dollars for local campuses.

But those efforts didn’t stop school board members, including some who were elected with the mayor’s help, from taking City Hall to court over a contaminated campus in Glassell Park.

The Los Angeles Unified School District filed the federal lawsuit earlier this year, alleging that solvents and other hazardous substances at an empty city-owned lot seeped into the soil at a 2,295-seat high school being built next to the Los Angeles River.

The case presents the latest twist in the history of the $239-million project in the Taylor Yard area northeast of downtown….

William Carter, [City Atty. Carmen] Trutanich’s chief deputy, said the city cleaned up its property in 2005. And he disagreed with the notion that the city has responsibility for the district’s remediation work.

“It’s obvious that L.A. Unified understood they were purchasing contaminated property — not to say that it was contaminated by our property,” he said.

So, because the LAUSD picked a contaminated site for a school, the city taxpayers and school taxpayers (the same people) pay for everything: contaminated property, cleanup, lawyers for the city, lawyers for the school.

The California Department of Toxic Substances Control even has a site for the cleanup.

By the way, the school will have 85 classrooms. Hasn’t LAUSD heard that this is a time of devolution and decentralization — of smaller organization units? The current model of massive, factory-style public schools was devised a century ago to mass-produce students who would go on to become mass-production factory workers.

This school boondoggle comes after hundreds of millions of dollars were wasted on the infamous Belmont High School, which was built on a toxic site.

And after an L.A. Times series earlier this year exposed the vast waste in the L.A. Community Colleges’ $5.7 billion construction bond.

If we just cut out all this waste, there would be no problem funding schools — and certainly no need to draw more blood from taxpayers.

May 3, 2011

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