Overcrowding at Hermosa Beach schools forces school board to look for alternatives
In 1950, a total of 1,430 students attended six schools within the Hermosa Beach City School district. This year, the same amount of students are enrolled in Hermosa Beach schools, but instead of attending six schools, they are packed into two.
“The community has a problem,” Hermosa Beach City School District Superintendent Pat Escalante said. “They have to decide if they want to find a way to go back to creating those neighborhood clusters, or look at how else they going to solve the problem of getting their classes back down beyond capacity.”
The HBCSD Board and Facilities Planning Advisory Committee determined during a special school board meeting in late January that because of a new school funding structure, they will begin a dialogue about the packed schools with the community in March.
“One of the tenants of the new locally controlled funding formula is that the money is more locally controlled,” said Escalante. “We’re going to be reaching out for more community input as to how the money from the state should be spent, and the community needs to help the schools understand what the best way to address the increased enrollment is and how to help the schools.”
GKK Works Architects, the company chosen to head the school-wide project, presented their findings during the January meeting and determined that with the current enrollment trends, by 2022 the Hermosa Beach School District will be well beyond capacity and new school configurations or a new school site will be necessary. GKK determined that by 2022 even with the additional temporary portables, the 6.4-acre Valley School site will need nine additional classrooms and View will need at least two. They also determined that the amount of toilets in the building are inadequate at View and the main office as well as the lunch and kitchen area should be reconfigured.
GKK Works said that the goal at the end of the community dialogue process is to have a master plan from now until 2022.
School Board President Patti Ackerman said that the current issue facing the community is determining whether or not to modify the existing schools at Valley and View School, or build an additional school at North School – the final district-owned site in town.
“We live in a great community with great schools and a great staff and people want to live here and come to school here,” board member Lisa Claypoole said. “… In a weird way it’s awesome to have this kind of a problem, but it’s clear that we’re going to need seats for children to sit in and something needs to happen before 2022. We haven’t made the decision to build anything yet, and I think we are doing our duty to the community to prepare for the numbers that we see coming.”
The next meetings will be March 10 at 7 p.m. and March 29 at 10 a.m. in the Hermosa Valley School Multipurpose Room, 1645 Valley Drive