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Students in L.A. get back to school

September 9, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
School is back in session in the Los Angeles Unified School District. Seven new campuses welcomed students in the district, including High School # 9, a new school for the performing arts."It's awesome," said student Sidney Avina. "I think it's going to have a very good program for us because they have extremely good teachers."

"It's the biggest school I've ever seen. I'm really excited that we're going to be the first students here and that it's finally open," said student Ethan Ray.

High School #9 is hard to miss in downtown because the architecture is unique and is designed to inspire the arts.

"It's very exciting," says student Ashley Bergo, "It's like they're capturing art itself, and it makes you want to be there."

Students and administrators say they're ready to face the new year despite state budget cuts which have trickled down to school districts, including the LAUSD. That's going to mean more students per classroom, less librarians and less school nurses.

"It will impact our clerical staff, we have half of what we were able to work with last year," said Suzanne Blake, the school's principal. "But I have the hardest working people in show business here, and they are just absolutely fabulous and they're really dedicated to making this happen."

The new arts high school isn't the only new campus in the district. School is also in session at what was once the Ambassador Hotel site, the historic location where Robert Kennedy was assassinated.

There was plenty of controversy when the district took over control of the site, though portions of the historic hotel have been preserved. The new school is a partnership between LAUSD and UCLA.

"What this means is partnership in LAUSD, it means small, autonomous, local, community schools, and it means more graduation," said LAUSD Board President Monica Garcia.

On the budget cuts, Garcia insists they're just going to have to work harder to make it a successful year.

"The crisis that we are challenged with in California is historic and monumental," said Garcia. "However, today we are focused on diplomas and graduation. The class of 2022 is in our first grade, and LAUSD will work with parents and the community to make sure our kids have the best we got."

With the new year, new schools, and new financial challenges, teachers and students are facing it all together.

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