Controversial South Gate school finally opens

SOUTH GATE, Calif.

Hundreds of millions of dollars and 25 years of planning went into South Region High School No. 9.

"It's really clean," said student Antonett Flores.

Parents like the new campus, too, and some are hoping it will give their kids a better chance in life.

"I actually (saw) the classes that they have here, and I like that," said mother Monica Ragel. "I like that because I want her to come up to be something in life."

The school is actually three high schools in one, each serving a different type of pupil.

"We all offer the A through G high school graduation requirements, but in addition to that, we offer specialized focus on electives," said Principal Carla Barrera-Ortiz.

The school is a little difficult to find: It's right in the middle of heavy industry, and that's part of the reason why it took so long to build. The soil turned out to be contaminated.

"The actual construction of the school is somewhere around $70 million plus, and the cost of the land was a small fraction of that, but the cleanup, that's what gets very, very expensive," said South Gate Mayor W.H. De Witt.

Mounds of dirt are still sitting in a lot across from the campus. Once it's all cleaned up, the site will be used for playing fields.

Finishing the work will close the book on one of Los Angeles Unified School District's most costly and controversial projects.

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