Los Angeles School District recently opened the most expensive school ever built, the Robert F. Kennedy Community Schools complex. It cost more than a half Billion dollars. It has six small schools on 24 acres and will serve 3,700 K-12 students. With its architectural flourishes and posh amenities, the locals say it looks like a museum. The school is designed to restore certain features of the site where Bobby Kennedy, when he was a presidential candidate, was assassinated. Museum-style features include a library that resembles the Ambassador Hotel ballroom where Kennedy made his final speech, and a 580-seat auditorium that boasts a starry ceiling and entrance modeled after the Coconut Grove nightclub. A $5 million park features talking benches that cost $54,000 and play a three-hour audio of the site's history and a wall of quotes from Ted Kennedy, Maya Angelou and Cesar Chavez. Other deluxe amenities include a state-of-the-art swimming pool, two gyms, million-dollar murals and other art.
The opening of this Robert Kennedy School comes at a time when the Los Angeles school district faces a $640 million deficit and laid off nearly 3,000 teachers in the past two years. The Kennedy School is only the latest extravagance in the Los Angeles School District's building spree; it follows the opening of two other L.A. schools that are among the nation's costliest. One local school board member commented, "New buildings are nice, but when they're run by the same people who've given us a 50% dropout rate, they're a big waste of taxpayer money. Parents aren't fooled."
One newspaper reported, "Even though many of these kids can't read or do math, at least they have a dance studio with cushioned maple floors and a kitchen with a restaurant-quality pizza oven."
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