University Elementary May Move : Talks Held Over Relocating UCLA School to Santa Monica
October 02, 1988 JOHN MITCHELL | Times Staff Writer
UCLA's prestigious Corrine A. Seeds University Elementary School, an educational research center where nearly 500 students are exposed to experimental teaching techniques, may be moved from the Westwood campus to Santa Monica. Lewis C. Solmon, the dean of UCLA's Graduate School of Education, said that officials from UCLA and the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District have been having preliminary discussions for months, and that details about the move and collaboration have yet to be worked out.
However, during the early stages of the talks, UCLA and Santa Monica-Malibu officials have been optimistic that the move will benefit the school district and University Elementary School (UES), which is run by the Graduate School of Education. Solmon said one advantage of moving to the Santa Monica-Malibu district is that the research school would shed its image as an "isolated school on a university campus."
Santa Monica is small enough for an agreement to be "workable," he said. In addition, there is space for the school because the district suffers from declining enrollment. UCLA had considered a similar move to Bellagio Road School, a vacant site in nearby Bel-Air, but the Los Angeles Unified School District had other plans for the school.
Santa Monica-Malibu Supt. Eugene Tucker said he considered the move a chance for his district to have a "unique partnership with a program which has a long and outstanding history of providing an excellent educational opportunity for the children who go to school there." He said it would also provide an opportunity for teachers to take part in research. Santa Monica-Malibu school board President Peggy Lyons termed the idea "fabulous." "UES has a fine reputation for being a laboratory school where important research has been conducted," she said.
School board member Della Barrett echoed Lyons' enthusiasm. "It is strictly in the exploratory stages, but it has exciting potential," she said.
The move in part is the result of a recent donation to the university to build the Joe E. Anderson Graduate School of Business Management on land next to University Elementary School, which is near the Sunset Boulevard entrance of the campus. The new building would force UES to relocate several small buildings.
Solmon said that there is room for University Elementary School on campus and that Chancellor Charles Young has asked that plans to redesign the current location be maintained should negotiations with the Santa Monica-Malibu district fail to produce an agreement.
Solmon said that talks with the district will focus on a number of questions, such as where to locate the new school, how a research laboratory would function in a school district and what the ethnic composition of the student body would be.
Admission Factors UES students are selected on the basis of ethnic origin and family income so that the student body mirrors the national census. Tuition is $1,700 per year, but scholarships are available.
Among other things, the school has experimented with open classrooms and computer instruction.
Solmon said some parents were concerned that the move would harm the quality of education.
"The parents justifiably expressed their anxiety," he said, adding that the goals of providing educational research and excellence would be maintained.
"You're attempting to fit a square peg into a round hole," she said, adding that moving the 108-year-old school off the UCLA campus would destroy "an education success story."
UCLA officials, who say they need the land beneath the elementary school for a graduate school of management, have been negotiating with the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District about moving the internationally renowned school. If it moves to Santa Monica, it would be situated in the city's Ocean Park section, and would be staffed and run by the university under a 25-year contract.
The school, California's only remaining laboratory school, tries out new teaching techniques and philosophies on its 450 students, ages 4 through 12. Free of state education requirements and a local school board, it has evaluations and parent conferences instead of grades, as well as team-teaching and multi-age grade groupings of children. Teachers are given time to write their own curriculums.
The school, usually referred to by the acronym UES, was founded in 1882 and moved onto the UCLA campus in 1947. It is situated in a grove of redwoods, in several buildings designed by architect Richard Neutra.
Board member Peggy Lyons suggested to the parents and teachers that their protests were aimed in the wrong direction. It was UCLA that offered the school to Santa Monica in the first place, she noted.
"We didn't ask for it," Lyons said. "I'm a little distressed that perhaps you don't have access to people at UCLA, and you're taking it out on us."
The decision whether to move UES is up to UCLA, said Supt. Eugene Tucker, whose own children attended the school.
UCLA Chancellor Charles E. Young said he would decide on the move within two to five months. He said that he is discussing with state education officials the feasibility of getting waivers from curriculum, testing, classroom time, teacher credentials and other regulations that UES would legally be subject to if it became part of a public school system.
Move of UCLA Lab School to Proceed
February 23, 1990 JEAN MERL | TIMES EDUCATION WRITER
UCLA will proceed with a controversial plan to move its prestigious laboratory elementary school to a nearby public school district, university officials announced Thursday. Going ahead with the move of the 108-year-old Corinne A. Seeds University Elementary School to the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District is contingent on its independence being assured, said UCLA Executive Vice Chancellor Murray L. Schwartz. Chancellor Charles E. Young, who made the decision, was out of the country this week and could not be reached for comment.
"It's not a done deal," Schwartz said, "but we believe this is an exciting and important experiment--taking an excellent school and seeing whether the techniques developed there can be successful in a more urban setting."
The decision was denounced by leaders of the Family School Alliance, a group of laboratory school parents and others who charge that the primary motivation for the move is to free up the nine-acre site for other uses on the increasingly crowded Westwood campus. UCLA officials, while conceding that space is a problem, deny that it is the reason for the move.
"It's really disturbing that UCLA seems bent on (the move) without regard to what faculty of the Graduate School of Education, UES staff, parents and alumni have had to say about it," said Kathy Seal, one of the parents opposing the move. "We really question their assertion that the autonomy of the school can be preserved in a public school setting."
Noting that the state, the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District and others must give permission before the relocation can take place, Seal said the alliance plans to "redouble our efforts.
"We will fight this through the courts, the Legislature and every other avenue that is open to us," Seal said.
Tentative plans call for UCLA to construct an elementary school for the Santa Monica school district. The school and an adjacent university research center, to be built on a park in the economically and ethnically diverse Ocean Park neighborhood, would be staffed and run by UCLA for at least 25 years. State funds to the Santa Monica district would be used to operate the new school, according to district Supt. Eugene Tucker.
Tucker said Thursday that school board members, who will not vote on the proposal until a contract has been worked out, have assured UCLA that it would continue to have "complete autonomy" over the experimental school. The students would be drawn from the surrounding neighborhood, but any parent who disapproved of the non-graded, highly experimental nature of the lab facility could choose another school in the district, he said.
Heidi Brandt, Family School Alliance president, said the school's independence is a key issue, and added she has long been concerned about lack of detailed assurances that it can indeed be maintained. "Words are cheap . . . but we have not been shown how autonomy can be guaranteed in a public school setting," she said.
Consideration of the move, which has been vigorously opposed by staff, parents and alumni of the lab school and others, began more than a year ago when UCLA made plans to build a new graduate business school on part of the elementary school's site along Sunset Boulevard.
"This is not surprising but it is disappointing, especially since another option (to allow the lab school to share the site with the management school and build an educational research center there) has the support of most of the (graduate school) faculty and others," said Richard Williams, lab school director and professor of education.
"It does indeed put them one step further down the road, but there are so many problems that they haven't yet even begun to deal with," said Williams, who, like the rest of the faculty, received a memo Thursday telling of the chancellor's decision. Lab school parents were sent letters the same day, UCLA officials said.
"This is really going to heat up now. . . . It will be a major, major test" of whether the move is feasible, Williams added.
But Lewis C. Solmon, dean of the Graduate School of Education, which runs the laboratory school, hailed the decision as an "exciting, interesting challenge . . . and an opportunity to do some innovative things in the public schools."
"This could really be a benchmark collaboration between the university and a school district. We could do some very important applied research on the relevant education issues in our society today."
Solmon said he and others met with education officials in Sacramento last week about the possibility of getting certain waivers from the state to enable the school to continue its innovations and got a "very enthusiastic" response.
The lab school's 450 students, ages 4 to 12, are drawn from throughout Los Angeles County and are chosen to reflect the nation's population distribution ethnically and economically.
Students are studied by UCLA researchers and others, and the staff has long been free to experiment with techniques. The students are taught by teams of teachers who have generous blocks of time for preparation, and no grades or tests are given.
UCLA Plan Blasted as Donor 'Ego Trip' : Education: State board president says most at campus do not want to move elementary lab school to Santa Monica. Land would be used for graduate school financed by $15-million gift.
May 12, 1990 WILLIAM TROMBLEY | TIMES STAFF WRITER
SACRAMENTO — The president of the State Board of Education said Friday that UCLA's controversial plan to move its on-campus laboratory elementary school to Santa Monica results from an "ego trip" by Los Angeles attorney and businessman John E. Anderson. Anderson has given the university $15 million to build a new Graduate School of Management on the lab school site on Sunset Boulevard.
Board President Joseph D. Carrabino, who is an emeritus professor at UCLA's management school, told the monthly meeting of the state board that most teachers, parents and alumni do not want the lab school to be moved but that Anderson insisted on a "choice location on Sunset Boulevard" for the graduate school that bears his name.
To make this possible, Carrabino said, UCLA officials decided to move the lab school to Ocean Park, at the southern end of the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District. "It's a big ego thing, nothing more," Carrabino said. Attempts to reach Anderson were unsuccessful. The State Board of Education was discussing the matter because some state policy issues might be involved if the Corinne A. Seeds University Elementary School is transferred from the UCLA campus to a public school district.
UCLA Executive Vice Chancellor Murray L. Schwartz said, "It's not true that we are moving UES (University Elementary School) in order to make room for the Graduate School of Management."
In a telephone interview, Schwartz said, "This is not a done deal, but we are contemplating it" because UCLA education researchers could do more to solve American public education problems in a regular school setting than in the secluded campus lab school.
If UCLA and the Santa Monica-Malibu district reach an agreement, the UCLA Graduate School of Education faculty will continue to run the school but it will be financed by the state. If the deal falls through, "we can continue UES on the present site," Schwartz said. However, he warned that eventually the crowded, 450-acre UCLA campus will not be able to afford the luxury of operating an elementary school for only 450 youngsters on a nine-acre site.
Dean J. Clayburn La Force of the Graduate School of Management said "There's not a shred of truth to the claim that we're eliminating the elementary school." He said, "only a part of the southern edge of the (UES) campus" would be needed for the new buildings. La Force also denied that Anderson had insisted on a "choice location" on Sunset Boulevard for the school.
When Anderson gave the $15 million in 1987, it was the largest single gift from an individual to any University of California campus.
La Force said he "could not imagine" why Carrabino made his remarks. State Supt. of Public Instruction Bill Honig said UCLA Chancellor Charles E. Young called him to ask if there were legal barriers or other problems involved in shifting the lab school to Santa Monica.
Honig directed staff members to look into it because, "if the university, regardless of the right or wrong of it, makes a request, then we have an obligation to help clear the way." But Honig and state board members soon ran into a hornet's nest of criticism, in letters and phone calls, from opponents of the lab school move.