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Most expensive school in U.S. opens in L.A.

September 13, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
The most expensive public school in the country opened its doors for the first time on Monday as more than half a million students in Los Angeles returned from summer break.Thirty-five new schools also opened in the Los Angeles Unified School District at 17 different sites. Robert F. Kennedy Community Schools stands out from the crowd with its $578 million price tag.

The 24-acre site was once the Ambassador Hotel, where Robert F. Kennedy was assassinated during his run for the White House. The campus is comprised of six pilot schools.

The K-12 facility includes a swimming pool, soccer fields, a memorial depicting the school's namesake, fine art murals and a public park. The legendary Cocoanut Grove Night Club in the old hotel is now the theater, and the ballroom is now a library.

The school was built using funds from the $20 billion voter-approved construction bond program.

LAUSD board president Monica Garcia said that Robert F. Kennedy Community Schools will relieve overcrowding at other schools and it's worth every penny.

"A building in the heart of L.A. is a little different. A building on a historically significant location is a little different, and so $578 million is a significant investment and it's very well spent," said Garcia.

The students attending RFK are from a nine-block radius. Freshman Jonathan Polanco walked to school with his family Monday morning. He said it was a nice change of pace from riding the bus to Brentwood for middle school.

"It was like an hour away. So now, I'm closer to home and I don't have to wake up so early," said Polanco.

RFK is already a source of pride in the community. But looks aside, parents said what matters most is what happens in the classrooms.

"Whatever they're doing here, it'll work in the brains of the children and they won't tear up the surroundings because it's very nice here," said parent Angela Davis.

The RFK community schools are now home to about 4,200 students. LAUSD said the opening of the new complex will help with overcrowding in other area schools.

The school is off to a late start in 2010 with students returning to class after Labor Day. That's due to budget cuts with the district deciding to furlough 29,000 teachers in order to save money.

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