131 Reasons to Celebrate Everyone Benefits from the Construction of New Schools

MAYWOOD - (Oct. 23, 2017) - Current and former Board members and L.A. Unified officials, community members, parents, guardians, and students today attended the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the Maywood Center for Enriched Studies (MaCES), and the celebration of the completion of 131 new school projects.

The opening of MaCES delivers another state-of-the-art facility and becomes the first Center for Enriched Studies in the Southeast communities. The school offers an intensive and rigorous curriculum that prepares students for a successful transition to college life and careers.

“It is a great day in L.A. Unified!” said Board President Mόnica García. “When the youth, families, residents, community partners and taxpayers of Los Angeles found out that students were learning less in multi-track, year-round, school calendars and couldn’t concentrate on homework because students as young as five years old would spend an hour on a school bus to get home, and that graduation rates would rise with new schools and modern facilities, they decided to invest in the future of our great cities.”

“Today marks the completion of a promise made to every young learner: We will provide a high quality learning experience no matter where you live,” added Ms. García. “We are thankful for the amazing work by thousands that voted, sacrificed, planned, constructed, and helped finish this amazing chapter of one of the nation’s largest infrastructure projects in history. A ‘Kids First’ philosophy helped accomplish this effort and we look forward to our continued partnership to get to 100 percent graduation!  We have more to do.”

Communities and neighborhoods have been transformed. As a result of the Two-Semester Neighborhood Schools Program, all students can walk to a neighborhood school. All students can receive 180 days of instruction rather than 163 days under the Concept 6, year-round, multi-track calendar. 

“This is a new day in L.A. Unified as we continue to move toward 100 percent graduation,” said Acting Superintendent Vivian Ekchian. “Now for the first time since 1980, all students can attend a neighborhood school that operates on a traditional, two‐semester calendar.” She added, “I am indeed proud that we were able to make such an impact to everything and everyone.”

Board Vice President Nick Melvoin said, “The opening of MaCES marks the culmination of one of the largest public works project undertaken in our country, ending the year-round calendar for L.A. Unified and opening a state-of-the-art center for enriched studies that represents true community partnership and celebrates what is possible when we work together on behalf of our kids.”

Parents and community members were able to learn construction skills and find jobs through the “We-Build” Local Worker Program. L.A. Unified’s construction program has not only benefited students, but the local economy as well. The program has created approximately 500,000 jobs, and more than $12 billion in wages and $1.2 billion in local and state taxes.

“The District has helped my company, Alameda Construction, grow from five to ten employees to 25 to 30 employees. We helped build 20 new schools with the District,” said small business owner Kevin Ramsey. “Thank you very much L.A. Unified for allowing us to be a part of this program.”

Board Member Dr. George J. McKenna, III said, “New schools breathe life into communities and serve as physical representations of hope, opportunity, prosperity and greater aspirations to be achieved.” 

This celebration is a reminder that all things are possible despite a multitude of challenges. A combination of leadership, vision, and collaboration with community members allowed the identification of locations for new schools in some of the most environmentally-challenging and densely-populated areas of L.A. Unified.

“As a retired administrator, who served the District for decades, I cannot describe how gratifying it feels to know that, with the opening of MaCES, every single L.A. Unified student can now enjoy the benefits of learning on a single-track calendar,” said Board Member Scott Schmerelson. “This is a milestone for the District, and for our children, that we can celebrate with pride and hope for the future.”

As student enrollment soared by 200,000 pupils between 1980 and 2002 – well beyond the capacity of schools located in highly-populated neighborhoods, the District instituted the use of multi-track calendars and involuntary busing and placed thousands of temporary portable classrooms on school sites in order to provide every student with a place to learn.

Beginning in 1997, L.A. Unified voters passed the first of a series of local school bonds to help reduce overcrowding and repair and improve District school facilities.  MaCES is the final new school to be built to achieve the long-term goal of providing every student with the opportunity to attend a neighborhood school operating on a traditional two-semester calendar.

Since the beginning of the bond program, nearly $18.5 billion has been invested in constructing and improving various school facilities to provide students and staff with a safe, high-quality learning and teaching environment. To date, more than 20,000 repair and modernization projects have been completed, 131 new K-12 school projects have been completed, and 65 new K-12 school additions projects have also been completed.

Today, MaCES offers sixth through 11th grades, and 12th grade will be added.

“The opening of the Maywood Center for Enriched Studies brings great pride to the Southeast cities and to the entire district as a whole,” said Board Member Dr. Ref Rodriguez. “MaCES is a huge win for the Southeast community because the need for more magnet and middle grade programs came directly from the community. As a District, we have fulfilled our promise to provide all students with 180 days of annual instruction and to end involuntary busing. There is much to be proud of, and we are so thankful to have this gem in our Southeast community.”

“The opening of our 131st new school is a cause for celebration in LA Unified,” said Board Member Kelly Gonez. “Thanks to the voters of Los Angeles, and the hard work of our staff, we have invested in our students and our schools. This is a testament to what we can do when we work together to improve public education.”  

Board Member Dr. Richard Vladovic said, “As we near the end of our cycle of new school construction, I want to welcome the Maywood Center for Enriched Studies, its students, faculty, and parents, to our L.A. Unified family. As it joins the 131 new schools we have overseen the construction of over the last decades, this school will stand as a part of our commitment to enriching the lives of our communities through public education.”

With the completion of the final new school project, the focus of the District’s facilities team is providing equity between newer and older schools so that every student has an equal opportunity to learn and succeed.

Chief Facilities Executive Mark Hovatter, who attended today’s celebration, said, “I am proud of the work we have done to build new schools and address campus overcrowding. There is still much work to be done for the students of L.A. Unified.” 

Hovatter added, “Our efforts to provide top-notch learning facilities that prepare our students for college, career and beyond, continues.”

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Contact: Elvia Perez Cano 213.503.6453