Los Angeles, California is now home to the most expensive school in the nation, and part of a district with a $640 million shortfall. The new school is also home to one of the highest drop out rates in the nation.
Next month’s opening of the Robert F. Kennedy Community School will mark the inauguration of the nation’s most expensive public school ever.
With an eye-popping price tag of $578 million, the K-12 complex (housing 4,200 students) has raised eyebrows across the country as the creme de la creme of “Taj Mahal” schools ($100 million-plus campuses boasting both architectural panache and deluxe amenities.)
“There’s no more of the old, windowless cinder block schools of the ’70s where kids felt, ‘Oh, back to jail,’” said Joe Agron, editor-in-chief of American School & University, a school construction journal. “Districts want a showpiece for the community, a really impressive environment for learning.”
Not everyone is similarly enthusiastic.
“New buildings are nice, but when they’re run by the same people who’ve given us a 50 percent dropout rate, they’re a big waste of taxpayer money,” said Ben Austin, executive director of Parent Revolution who sits on the California Board of Education. “Parents aren’t fooled.”
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