Grand-iose failure

first_imgOn the edge of downtown, the half-finished buildings of Belmont Learning Center stand as a monument of the Los Angeles Unified School District’s most expensive failure. Just a few blocks away on Grand Avenue, however, the district is in the process of building on the site of its former headquarters what could well be its worst oversight failure. Or, rather it seems, not building it. What was supposed to be a new performing-arts high school on the edge of the Grand-iose Avenue beginning last year is still essentially an empty, graded lot. And three years of delays and other problems have pushed the school’s ultimate price tag up to $208 million. If the delays continue, who knows what it might end up costing. Considering just the ballooning construction costs, this school is set to be even more expensive than Belmont, not counting the land and remediation costs that put Belmont in a class by itself. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORECasino Insider: Here’s a look at San Manuel’s new high limit rooms, Asian restaurant It almost didn’t happen that way. The original plan was to build a high school on that site for $54 million to relieve overcrowding for a long-underserved area. But then, billionaire Eli Broad got involved. Broad dreamed up the idea of an architecturally significant, modern building that would complement the massive retooling he is engineering at public expense on the continuation of Grand Avenue to the south. And when Broad gets a dream, the superintendent of schools, the mayor and the others who see him as their personal benefactor stand up and salute. No questions asked. To nudge school officials to hire the Austrian architect of his choice, Broad pledged a million or two, mostly to get the kind of tower he wanted gleaming down on his Grand Avenue redevelopment. How the bill to the public then quadrupled is a scandal of epic proportions. The taxpayers have been robbed, as have the children elsewhere in the city who won’t get the new schools or improvements they were promised. So where were the school administrators during all this? Where was the school board? Where was the citizens bond oversight committee? “Nobody is happy that it’s costing millions more than the last estimate, but I don’t see any other way to go,” said defender Scott Folsom, vice chairman of the citizens bond oversight committee that reviews the LAUSD’s construction spending. Apparently, even those charged with fiduciary responsibility of the LAUSD’s $15 billion in construction bonds are indifferent to the public interest. The Belmont fiasco was bad. But the hope was it would be the only badly bungled new high school. It’s disheartening to think it might have only been the beginning.160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img