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Push for New Schools, Facilities Launched

With the start of a new millennium, the Long Beach Unified School District is launching the largest and most ambitious school construction program in its history. Funded by $180 million from local school bonds and matching state funds, the district is considering 21 sites for possible purchase for new schools or school expansion. Among the 21 possible sites, 15 are being actively pursued for purchase while six more are under discussion. The district already owns two properties where it plans to build, one at Hill Street and Redondo Avenue near the City of Signal Hill and one on Cherry Avenue where the Preparatory Academy is now housed. By agreement with the City of Signal Hill, the district will move Prep Academy in 2001. In escrow is a third new site, located on Bort Street a few blocks north of the district’s newest school, Colin Powell Academy. It will become a satellite campus for Jordan. The Los Angeles County Committee on School District Organization recently approved the annexation to the district of approximately five acres of unincorporated land adjoining the site. Other sites being considered are the Masonic Temple on Elm Street downtown, the Dooley’s Hardware store property on Long Beach Blvd. in north Long Beach, and the closed Carl's furniture store on Pacific Coast Highway in central Long Beach. Properties adjoining several schools are being considered for expansion of those facilities. Those include land near Edison, Roosevelt and Poly Accelerated Academy of Learning. To add fourth and fifth grades, Edison and Roosevelt, along with Lee, plan to expand from their current K-3 enrollment. They will replace some one-story portables with two-story modulars like the ones used to construct Powell Academy. Two-story modulars will be used at Bort Street and Cabrillo. Projects currently under construction are major modernization at Wilson; air conditioning at Grant, Harte and Whittier; new buildings at Cabrillo; International’s playfield; Poly’s Digital High School work; and a FEMA lighting program in dozens of schools. More than two dozen other projects are in the design phase, including the $2 million expansion of Reid High School, 80 percent state funded. Construction on that project, which will require the relocation of International Student Registration (ISR) and Boyd Center offices, will begin in February. Completion is targeted for next December. The new enlarged school will accommodate 1,000 students, triple the current enrollment. To make room for classrooms at Boyd Center, special education personnel will move to Pacific Towers. ISR and Personnel Commission will relocate to 999 Atlantic Ave. The Pregnant Minors program, which by state law becomes part of the district’s CDC program in January, may also move later.