The most expensive public school in American history is set to open next month in Los Angeles, but some people believe the $578-million price tag for the Robert F. Kennedy Community Schools is a tremendous waste of taxpayers’ money.
The former Ambassador Hotel, where Senator Kennedy was assassinated in 1968, is now a K-12 complex that will house 4,200 students. The school features a manicured public park, a state-of-the-art swimming pool, and preservation of pieces of the original hotel.
But Carrie Lukas, vice president for policy and economics at the Independent Women’s Forum (IWF), thinks school officials in L.A. should be reminded that kids need an education — not deluxe amenities. “This isn’t what kids need, this isn’t what our schools should be about — and it’s truly just an outrageous, outrageous thing that’s happened,” she contends.
This is not the first expensive school L.A. has erected as one was built in 2008 for $377 million, along with one last year with a price tag of $232 million.
“It’s really a sad statement for a state that is facing some…incredible economic troubles and budget problems,” Lukas laments. “This is just an outrage for anybody who is concerned about education quality and the budget. Taxpayers should just be furious that this money was wasted in this way.”
The IWF policy and economics vice president adds that there has been a presumption that money equals results when it comes to education. But she argues that “more spending on frivolous items like what we’ve seen in this public school system has [nothing] to do with kids’ learning.”
The Associated Press reports the pricey schools have come during a sensitive period for the nation’s second-largest school system. Nearly 3,000 teachers have been laid off over the past two years, and the academic year and programs have been slashed. The district also faces a $640-million shortfall while some of its schools persistently rank among the nation’s lowest in performance.