Canyon School Getting New Classrooms

Nine new classrooms are coming to Canyon Elementary, one of the oldest schools in Los Angeles. Photos: Courtesy/Santa Monica Public Library.

Nine new rooms for one of oldest schools in L.A.

By Keldine Hull 

In 1894, Canyon School began classes in a one-room schoolhouse on what is now Sycamore Road. It became an important part of the community and home to church services, performances and dances. 125 years later, Canyon School has gone through many transformations, including three changes in location and necessary additions to the school to accommodate more students. In order to meet current standards, including the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requirements, Canyon School is scheduled to undergo even more changes.

On April 25, LAUSD representatives addressed the upcoming Classroom Replacement Project during a community meeting at Canyon Charter Elementary School. The meeting included a discussion and presentation regarding the removal and replacement of portable classrooms on the school grounds. 

Ahead of the April 25 meeting, members of the community were already aware of the upcoming changes. According to George Wolfberg, President Emeritus of the Santa Monica Canyon Civic Association and Chairman of the Board at Pacific Palisades Community Council, “Canyon School is the oldest school in Los Angeles, well over 100 years old. The school is not ADA compliant. It has to meet the ADA which means they have to change the bathrooms, and there need to be ramps to get to the building rather than steps. That’s a small part of the project.” 

Wolfberg continued, “There are portable structures that are legal, but they do not meet state requirements for use as a school facility. And apparently all LAUSD had these all over the city. Now they are getting down to the last few and Canyon is one of the last schools that they’re going to do. They’re going to remove these buildings that do not meet the standards of the state architects and replace them with compliant buildings. And I believe there is a plan to build a two- story school building along East Channel Road and move the kindergarten, which is on the other side of the parking lot. They have to have appropriate rooms for the kindergarten class and a play yard.”

The approved budget of the Classroom Replacement Project is over $3 million and will be carried out in two phases. Phase one addresses design and construction, which includes the removal and replacement of two classrooms and code required ADA upgrades. Phase two addresses design and includes several classroom removals in addition to nine new classrooms, spaces to support school programs and IT network convergence.  

While the long overdue project is aimed to benefit students at the school, a growing concern among residents is the impact on parking and traffic. Wolfberg added, “Some of the neighbors are concerned about where the workers doing the project are going to park. It’s a pretty congested neighborhood. They’re hoping they’ll park maybe somewhere offsite and carpool or bus in. I’ve not heard any response to that concern.” 

Following the meeting, community members hope to have more clarity regarding specifics of the project as well as an expected timeline and overall impact on the community.  

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